Game of Thrones returns for its final season next month, and in connection with the popular series’ long-awaited return, HBO has teamed up with the American Red Cross for “Bleed For The Throne,” a campaign aimed at getting fans of the show to donate blood. Those participating will receive a limited edition T-shirt, and the chance to win a trip to New York for the show’s premiere.
In addition, HBO will host an interactive event at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, in which those who donate blood will get the chance to engage in an “immersive experience” connected to the show.
However, per The Daily Beast, the campaign is being criticized by gay and bisexual fans of Game of Thrones, who are forbidden from participating.
In a controversial and hotly contested policy, the Food and Drug Administration mandates — per the Red Cross website — that men can only donate blood if they have not had sex with another man within the last 12 months. The policy also applies to women who have participated in sexual intercourse with men who have had sex with men during that same time frame. Those rules are in effect for the Game of Thrones contest, which leaves gay and bisexual men who are fans of the show unable to participate.
“It’s kind of a bummer,” one fan told The Daily Beast. “Here’s this really great prize, but you can’t have it because you’re gay.” Several fans have reached out to HBO about the policy, which they consider unfair.
HBO told the website in a statement that those unable to donate blood will be able to participate in the South by Southwest (SXSW) exhibit, if they wait in a “standby line.”
A spokesperson for HBO reached out to the Inquisitr and clarified that the program is open to everyone and that they are taking measures to comply with FDA regulations and still give everyone a chance at prizes.
“The ‘Bleed for the Throne’ campaign is and has always been open to everyone. Knowing that FDA regulations may prohibit blood donation by some, we have created multiple ways for fans to interact with the campaign, including entry to the activation at SXSW and the season 8 premiere sweepstakes. While the SXSW activation filled up quickly, a standby line will be available while the activation is open. Those unable to donate blood in national blood drives can still enter the sweepstakes by contacting the Red Cross Donor Support Center with a request to be entered, along with their name, mailing address and a valid email. Inclusivity is a key HBO value, and we have long been supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The series has had a handful of LGBT characters throughout its run. Most notably, the characters of Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) and Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) had a full-on love affair, while Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) was established as bisexual — and the show has implied that his home kingdom of Dorne is a hotbed of sexual libertinism. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), of the Iron Islands, is another gay character on the show. A Vulture piece in 2016 criticized the show for giving violent deaths to most of its LGBT characters.
Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season on April 14. The final run will consist of six episodes, with the series finale airing on May 19.