Friday, 19 September 2014

Donating to Denim Day

Like most people I give to charitable causes. As a gay man I often donate to lgbt health charities, particularly my local HIV prevention programme (to which I also spent many hours donating my time before my present working hours prevented it).

Most of us also give to charities which have no specific lgbt connection. Cancer is one of the biggest causes people donate to. Having lost both parents and a partner to cancer this is another cause I donate money to.

Today I’ll be donating to another, because today is Jeans for Genes Day in the UK. This is an awareness day for sufferers of genetic disorders. It was founded in 1996 by two brothers who had chronic granulomatous disorder (CGD), a genetic disorder, and they hope that £2 million is raised every Jeans for Genes Day to help children suffering from any sort of genetic disorder.

One of the great ideas about the campaign is that the charity encourages people to wear jeans and denim at work instead of their usual clothes or uniform. I’m not sure my boss will let me do that, being in a front-line customer service position in a posh office complex. Perhaps if I stay sitting at the reception desk no-one will notice. But that defeats the whole point of wearing jeans today!

You may be wondering by now what this has got to do with lgbt heritage and history. Well, if you remember, last month I told you about Simon Bostic, a sufferer of CGD who entered the history books as the first surviving recipient of a bone marrow transplant from a non-relative.

As I mentioned in that article Simon’s survival has inspired millions to put their names on bone-marrow registers and give people like the founding brothers of Jeans for Genes Day hope for the future. Just last week a Nottingham teenager, Ethan Buttress, discovered he is the only bone marrow match to a young boy he’s never met on the other side of the world. What is particularly notable is that Ethan in the UK’s youngest ever bone marrow donor, at the age of 19. Without the pioneering medical work in the 1970s to ensure Simon Bostic survived his transplant, the Jeans for Genes charity and Ethan would never had made the news.

Simon Bostic’s survival was also instrumental in the creation of one the UK’s most well-known bone marrow charities, the Anthony Nolan blood cancer and bone marrow register.

Whether this fund-raising ideas will spread internationally is hard to predict. Let’s start by doing it ourselves. Wear denim at work one day this week in support of all children suffering from genetic disorders like CGD. You never know – if Simon Bostic can survive and win a Gay Games medal perhaps there’s a future lgbt Olympic champion out there waiting for hear that his/her illness can be treated.

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