'Grey's Anatomy' star Jake Borelli reacts to 'horrifying' laws restricting drag shows and queer marriage: 'It feels like we're being pushed backwards'
"Grey's Anatomy" star Jake Borelli said the restrictions on drag performing are "horrifying."
"I'm afraid about it, especially not knowing what the next administration is going to be like," he told Insider.
He also reflected on an important storyline on the show about restrictions to blood donation.
In a recent interview with Insider, "Grey's Anatomy" star Jake Borelli shared his feelings on the recent anti-LGBTQ marriage legislation and anti-trans legislation that's currently being proposed and passed in some states around the country, most notably in Tennessee.
"It's horrifying. It feels like we're being pushed backward, that we're being forced to take steps backwards," he said. "I'm afraid about it, especially not knowing what the next administration is going to be like."
A Tennessee bill outlawing "adult cabaret performances" done "on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult," was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on March 2. According to reporting by Insider's Yelena Dzhanova, the law identifies "male and female impersonators" — drag kings and drag queens — as adult cabaret performers. The law is a class E felony in the state, which means it carries a jail sentence of up to six years.
"I think now is a time to remain a community and to support people within our queer community who don't have as many rights as others, and to really look out for our trans partners," said Borelli.
The actor told the public he was gay in 2018 via an Instagram post. He said he was inspired to tell the world about his sexuality in part because of the "Grey's Anatomy" storyline in which his character Dr. Levi Schmitt came out as queer.
"We all need to stay together at this point because they're going to keep trying to push us back. And it's horrifying," he continued.
"Grey's Anatomy" has explicitly addressed recent controversial changes in legislation in season 19 of the show, which is currently airing. Three out of the first nine episodes of the season addressed abortion, seemingly in response to the restrictions being imposed around the country after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2002.
In the episode titled "When I Get To The Border," which aired in November 2022, a patient in need of an emergency abortion because of an ectopic pregnancy died in part because of abortion restrictions, which now vary state by state.
Borelli said the "Grey's Anatomy" writers are "wonderful" about talking to him and other actors about the issues they care about. He's hopeful that an episode involving drag queens will be written soon.
"Oh, I've pitched a drag storyline so many times, and then they did an episode of 'Station 19' with some drag queens, which I was like, "No, I wanted you to do it on 'Grey's,'" he said jokingly, referring to the firefighter-paramedic spinoff that airs in the timeslot before "Grey's" on Thursday nights.
Borelli says the FDA restrictions on certain people donating blood are 'hypocritical'
One issue important to Borelli that has made it into a storyline on "Grey's" is the restrictions that the FDA put on gay, pansexual, and bisexual men, as well as other men who have sex with men, if they want to donate blood.
On the season 18 finale of the show, which aired in May 2022, Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital faced a blood shortage and Dr. Schmitt couldn't donate blood because he had been sexually active with a man within the last three months.
According to the American Red Cross, the deference period of three months is still in place at the time of this writing.
Borelli said he'd been pitching the storyline "for years" because during one of Levi's early episodes, before he came to terms with his sexuality, he was goaded into donating blood to save a patient's life and then given the nickname "Blood Bank."
According to NPR, the donation restrictions were put in place during the AIDS epidemic to "protect the blood supply from HIV" and were last updated in 2020.
Borelli pointed out that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the abstinence period was decreased from one year to three months "because they needed our blood."
"It's so hypocritical and so....it pisses me off so much. So I was so excited to tell the story, and I really hope we pick up on it again," he said, reflecting on the restrictions and the "Grey's" storyline. He noted that the guidelines aren't based on science" because every donor's blood is tested before going to potential recipients.
On January 27, 2023, the FDA released potential blood donation guidelines for men who have sex with men and their partners. The proposed change would shift the restrictions from being time-based to being based on "individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV." This system is already being used in the UK and Canada but is still pending in the US.
"Grey's Anatomy" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Read the original article on Insider