Although the U.S. has made strides toward equality during the last few decades, UT alumnus Ryan Yezak feels many people in the LGBTQ community are treated like second class citizens.
Yezak is currently working on a documentary discussing the various forms of discrimination encountered by LGBTQ persons around the country because of their sexual orientation. Yezak said the documentary, called "Second Class Citizen," will cover issues such as the barriers to adoption, lack of employment protection and anti-bullying statues and high rates of homelessness facing LGBTQ people.
Yezak looked to Kickstarter, the online fundraising platform, to raise money for his documentary. Although his original goal was $50,000, he ended up raising $176,000.
“I thought this isn’t right, this is me, and I’m a part of our community,” Yezak said. “We’re being treated as people of a lesser class in a way they discriminated against race and gender in the past.”
Earlier this month, Yezak called gay and bisexual males nationwide to donate blood at their local blood centers in an effort to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to lift a policy banning gay individuals from donating blood.
When he participated in the National Gay Blood Drive on July 12, Yezak said he and hundreds of other men nationwide were turned away from blood collection centers.
Cindy Rowe, spokesperson for the Blood Center of Central Texas, said their center had to turn away ten donors from the blood drive because of their sexual orientation.
The FDA established the law in the 1980s, saying it would prevent HIV transmission, but Rowe said the Blood Center believes the law is no longer relevant because of the precision of modern blood testing.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Texas’ anti-sodomy law unconstitutional in 2003, but the law is still technically on the books, meaning Texans can be cited for “homosexual conduct.” In 2009, two men in El Paso were told by police they could be charged under the law after being kicked out of a restaurant for kissing.
Yezak began his fight against discrimination when he was at UT in 2008. That year, he helped form the UT chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, an international fraternity that describes itself as “a brotherhood for gay, bisexual and progressive men.”
“People don’t seem to care about those issues because they’re not as sexy as marriage,” Yezak said. “One goal in mind is to transcend to that level of attention that marriage has with all these other issues.”