Lines are reportedly circling parking lots and snaking down city blocks as prospective blood donors queue in Orlando following the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. According to police, the early morning shooting at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub, killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 more.
In response to the shooting, OneBlood issued a request for Orlando residents to help the donation center refresh local hospitals' supplies as they work to care for people injured in the attack. AB plasma, O negative and O positive blood are particularly in high demand.
A Plus spoke to local Tawney Bland while she was waiting in the long line at OneBlood's Michigan Street location. Like many in the area, she rushed over to help as soon as she heard of the shooting, cancelling her plans. She has type O blood.
"It's so crowded," Bland said of the center. "So many people coming to donate blood. So many people bring food and drinks for donators. You can feel the love and support in the community... Even though it's been an all-day wait, we are willing to wait to help."
But, despite conflicting reports, it seems like a number of people waiting in line might be turned away at the door. Although the shooting happened at Pulse, a centerpiece of LGBT life in Orlando, the FDA still restricts men who have had sex with men in the past year from giving.
OneBlood, which some outlets reported was accepting donations from everyone, regardless of sexual history, tweeted Sunday afternoon that "all FDA guidelines remain in effect."
Which means, as Orlando Twitter user KNGRK9 put it: "You can't donate your gay blood to gay people."
Previously, FDA guidelines had barred all men who had ever had sex with another man from giving blood. The guidelines were revised in 2015 to restrict only men who have had gay sex in the past year, but The Washington Post reports that OneBlood's own system has still not been updated to reflect the revision.
"There are so many people who'd love to be able to help, and they just can't," PJ Scott-Blankenship, transmedia producer and LGBT activist, told A Plus. "LGBT people have always been able to turn to each other in times such as this, and it's sad that not only are our safe spaces and events being targeted, but we also can't help each other."