This article was published on October 13th, 2020
COVID-19 has claimed over 200,000 lives in the United States as of mid-October. 911 claimed 2,977. The Titanic sank with 1500 lives.
To date, COVID is more than seventy 9/11s! Let that figure sink in for a second.
To hear people in the United States, especially in the LGBT community, hosting underground parties with complete disregard for COVID-19 health guidelines is simply appalling.
This has struck a cord of tension within the circuit party community that is still divided on hosting these potential super-spreader events, as one person recently lost their life in one of these parties – a circuit party hosted during Atlanta Pride weekend, due to an alleged drug overdose.
A tale of two countries
It’s said that fish rots from the head. Perhaps the approach to the COVID-19 from both the U.S. and Canada reflects the two country’s leadership.
Canada has fared better with just over 196,000 cases and 9746 deaths as of mid-October, according to Worldodometer.
Their success is due to, in part, geography, but mostly remaining united and disciplined. The leadership identified the virus as a serious threat and rallied bipartisan support for measures to stump it out.
Canadians have also deferred to medical experts to lead the fight against the pandemic, unlike in the U.S., where medical experts have received lip service, and in some cases, received threats to their lives.
From the beginning, Canada and each Province and Territory, implemented the pandemic strategy, which included emergency relief funding, closing all businesses excluding essential services, daily updates from health professionals and leadership, and a united rally cry from all Canadians to abide by all the measures to keep each other safe and healthy. From coast to coast to coast, all Canadians remained united, kind, and calm.
It’s a stark contrast to how the United States has handled the pandemic. The country was never unified between local, State, and federal leaders, recommendations were constantly challenged, advice was blatantly ignore, there were little or not financial supports, and politics has consistently been a distraction.
COVID vs. the LGBTQ community
It’s not surprising that gay events in both countries follow from the top. The same recklessness displayed at the top in the U.S. seems to be permeating the ground including in the LGBT community. It’s a shame, really.
Most LGBT people have religiously followed COVID-19 regulations and mandates. They know that their safety and well-being is a priority for themselves, their loved ones, and the community. They have diligently worked to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
Almost all official Pride events were either postponed, cancelled, or held virtually. These were responsible decisions by Pride organizations. In some cases, innovative event producers have come up with safe and creative ways to hold events that adhere to, and even surpass health guidelines to protect the community.
For instance, in Alberta, Canada, Banff Pride held October 5-11, consisted of a series of small 25-50 person physically distanced events, held both indoors and outdoors, under the strict Canadian and Alberta health guidelines. Sanitizer flowed like the Bow River and masks were mandatory. There have not been any reported COVID cases related to these events, and attendees had a great time.
There are also event organizers, like Jake Resnicow, who have managed to produce a 250 person, weekend-long events that required all participants, staff, and talent to undergo multiple COVID tests. To date, there have been no related COVID cases linked to this event.
“Pride can still happen safely in small gatherings with strict protocols in place,” said Dustyn Baulkham, board member of Kelowna Pride in Kelowna, British Columbia. “We produced a very different Kelowna Pride this year, and we exceeded the Ministry of Health guidelines for health and safety for protecting people against the spread of COVID.” Kelowna Pride hosted outdoor, physically distanced drag shows that were also broadcasted live online, along with a vehicle and bike parade, also streamed live online.
Sadly, some seem not to care.
While the official Atlanta Pride was held virtually, the circuit queens just couldn’t hang up their dancing shoes during a global health pandemic. GA Boy Events hosted a circuit party over the Atlanta Pride weekend, and not unusual, sadly, a participant has reportedly died from a drug overdose. Our thoughts are with his friends, circuit sisters, and family. There were early allegations that the event could result in COVID-19 cases.
There are calls from the circuit community to attend massive circuit party events in the United States and Mexico for the next two major holigays, Halloween and New Years Eve. There are many events that are planned, some publicly promoted and others as invite-over underground parties.
These types of parties only require participants to wear a mask into the venue, and then after that, you’re on your own. There are no enforcements of physical distancing or entrance instant testing. These types of events are huge potential super-spreaders. It’s reckless and dangerous, and event producers seem to not be held accountable.
The sentiment online is torn – some advocating to stay home and wait until its safe to party later in 2021, and others arguing that this is a self-choice and the party must go on, even with knowing that they and their friends could be infected with COVID-19.
The party will go on…without you
In the meantime, however, we have to act differently.
The more reckless we remain by ignoring health guidelines, holding underground packed parties and events, going without masks, the longer and more painful the recovery will be.
The LGBT community has been at the forefront of championing safety and responsibility. Since the pandemic began in mid-March, most Pride events have been canceled, postponed, or held online. Some Pride organizations have managed to host smaller events, like outdoor drag shows, under strict guidelines.
We’ve pointed out before that the COVID disproportionately affects marginalized communities, for example, LGBT people living with HIV.
The community needs to protect everyone.
This is not the time to be hosting or attending large gatherings and hooking up with random people. 2020 and going into 2021 must be different. Event producers need to either pause events or host smaller, physically distanced events in controlled environments while adhering to all health guidelines.
Party people, sorry, you have to hang up those dancing shoes for a while and enjoy some virtual circuit parties. Take a break and discover other amazing things you’ve been missing out on.
Fact: The party will go on after the pandemic (whenever that is). However, if you don’t take care of yourself, and each other right now by following simple health guidelines, youyou’re your friends might not live to see the day.
We all need to do our part. This is not the time to host these massive circuit party events, like the Winter Party Festival held at the beginning of March, before the pandemic’s announcement, where sadly, some people contracted and even passed away from COVID-19.
Words of wisdom from a top health medical officer
In the words of the revered Provincial Chief Public Health Officer for the Province of British Columbia, Dr. Bonny Henry, who has been praised around the world for leading one of the best COVID-19 responses in North America, “Things are going to look a little bit different this year. It isn’t forever. It’s for right now. We will get through this together. Be kind. Be calm. Be safe.”