One of the most important things to us as an organization is helping the Baton Rouge community. After all the support that we received at Pride Fest and during the Equality March, it was time for CCA to find some ways to give back. This weekend, we’ve been lucky to have a number of opportunities to give our time in the service of others.
National Gay Blood Drive
Friday, July 11th, was the National Gay Blood Drive. Cities across the U.S., including Baton Rouge, organized blood drives to show the impact of the donor ban for gay and bisexual men. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood due to the perception that they were at an increased risk for transmitting HIV. This policy is outdated and perpetuates a discriminatory stereotype about gay and bisexual men. All donated blood is rigorously tested for infectious diseases before it is finally approved for transfusions. Additionally, our nation’s blood supply is at a perpetual emergency shortage. Willing donors should never be turned away, and the donor ban means that hundreds of thousands of pints of blood are lost every year.
CCA is outraged about the donor ban and went to the planned event at the United Blood Service on Friday to show our support for those who continue to be discriminated against. We were happy to be there and brave the needles alongside our friends at Equality Louisiana. The Gay Blood Drive worked by having allies donate in place of gay and bisexual men, bringing awareness to the men who are willing to donate their blood but are not allowed to do so. Our board chair donated for one of his best friends and our board secretary donated for her cousin. The event was a powerful demonstration of what is lost when perfectly healthy donors are turned away.
The Walls Project’s Community Paint Day
Saturday, July 12th, we were so excited to help The Walls Project’s Community Paint Day! CCA shares office space with the Walls Project and we are very close organizational allies. They fiercely support the work of CCA, so it was wonderful to have the opportunity to give back to them. The Walls Project works with community partners to create public art installations. Part of that work includes allowing the community to paint large concrete walls in parks, changing them from drab spaces into beautiful works of art. This is precisely the project that we were so excited to join in on Saturday morning.
We met up with our friends from Equality Louisiana early Saturday morning and got right to work! Despite the heat and humidity, we had an unbelievably fun time getting our creative juices flowing. We spent a couple of hours painting with other members of the Baton Rouge community at the Gayosa Park near midcity and left our artistic mark on a gorgeous, collaboratively painted wall. The Baton Rouge Advocate came out and did a phenomenal video on the project, which you can watch here:
The Advocate has posted some terrific pictures from the event on their website, as well!
Second Sunday Brunch
We capped both of those days off with an amazing brunch today! We had a packed house at Mestizo, as you’ll see from our video below! Having a space and time each month where we can come together and catch up is so important.
We have to say we are pretty invigorated and inspired by all that we’ve had the opportunity to do with the Baton Rouge community this weekend! Finding ways to help and connect with others in our city is really what it is all about. Sometimes we get bogged down in our own struggles, but there are always ways to get involved with causes that remind us of all we have to be thankful for and the ways in which we can truly make a difference.