#GaysOverCOVID: The Controversy & The Conversation Dissected

@GaysOverCovid on Instagram has become the most controversial conversation over the holiday period.

HomoCulture News and Politics Triston Brewer

This article was published on January 4th, 2021

@GaysOverCovid on Instagram has become the most controversial conversation over the holiday period. 

The year 2020 will live in infamy for everyone as it took a toll in a myriad of ways. Affecting us all mentally and many of us physically due to those contracted COVID-19, we have been forced to remain away from social gatherings due to restrictions, which has resulted in less time spent with friends and loved ones through public health orders that extended through the holiday season. 

Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

With non-essential travel restricted and discouraged, which includes leisure travel, most people made the right choice and complied with these measures in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Some did choose to go to sunny beach destinations to escape the winter blues and did it by knowing and respecting the local guidelines. 

What has become the moral and ethical controversy is not as much that people traveled, but more that people decided to gather over the holiday season and going against public health guidelines. This is what is causing a significant rift in the gay community.

Circuit Queens Challenging COVID-19 Measures

As has been reported several times over the past months, circuit queens have en masse disregarded advisories from public health officials and have traveled to attend underground parties, dance clubs, and circuit events – all without wearing masks or face coverings the entire time while indoors, not physical distancing, and taking other COVID-19 protective measures. 

Winter Party Festival 2020. Photo credit: John Vanbeekum | Miami Herald

Some of these environments have resulted in super spreader events that have cast a negative eye on the gay community. One of the early examples was at the beginning of March 2020 at the Winter Party Festival in Miami, Florida, and the most recent example as a potential super spreader event, still to be determined but yet highly scrutinized, being Jeffery Sanker’s White Party on New Year’s Eve in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The super-spreader party was moved across Banderas Bay to the neighbouring state of Nayarit because the local health guidelines shut down with new restrictions that had come into place. Hours before the event started, instructions were sent to ticket holders with instructions to get to the event, along with a warning not to take photos or videos at the event, outside of designated areas. There are many other notable examples of events being held around the world that have also drawn criticism. 

The festivities in Puerto Vallarta were criticized heavily not only for potentially spreading the deadly virus but also for putting the lives of revellers at risk when one of the independent party boat cruises, operated by PV Delice Party Cruise. The gay cruise offered an open bar, live DJ, gogo boys, and clothing-optional private beach party. The cruise boat accidentally sank while making its way back to shore. Passengers were forced to scramble for lifejackets and swim to rescue boats. Thankfully there have been no reported serious injuries and no fatalities, but the damage has definitely been done with memes in abundance of the fiasco spread all over social media and the ensuing arguments that developed as a result. 

While there are many that are advocating for staying home, reducing contact with others to reduce infection and reminding of the 85+ million people that have been infected in the past year, there are others that believe the government is compromising their rights. 

In one instance, a post that read ‘my rights, my freedoms, you’re just jealous you’re not hot like us’ caused an uproar, which was followed by other accounts that deleted content and switched into private mode. The truth is, governments are not on a mission to limit  human rights; however, public health officials are working to protect the health of humankind with specific and targeted, science-based measures. 

UnMask the Offender

A $500 reward was offered by one circuit queen, in search of the person that created the @GaysOverCovid Instagram account, which has been calling out people who have been in attendance at these super spreader events and publicly shaming them. The offer of the bounty fuelled more social media discussion and arguments, resulting in a greater divided the two communities. 

A Bold Gay Event Producer Demonstrates Leadership

The biggest gay event producer in the United States, Jake Resnicow, took a leading and responsible role by deciding not to produce events over the holiday season, and instead, encouraging people to be safe. 

“This is the first NYE in 10 years where I have not organized an event,” said Jake Resnicow in a statement he published on his social channels on New Year’s Eve. “I do what I do because I love bringing joy to you all. The smiles on your faces, bringing people together, this is what I live for. When we put on these events, it’s like magic to us. From beginning to end, we find ways to surprise and transport you to a place unknown. We’ve been hard at work planning epic experiences for 2021… I can’t wait to see you again.” 

ride-Festival-2019-WE-Party.jpg
Pride Festival 2019 – WE Party | Photo: Jake Resnicow Events

When the time is right, everyone will be able to meet up again and party in 2021. Jake Resnicow’s events for 2021 are being reimagined and his NYE statement presents a bold and confidence-building message that will gain the support of the community for his events in the future, and build his brand as a community-focused, thoughtful event producer. These are the types of events to support post-pandemic, because they took the Road of Responsibility, to help protect the community, and COVID-safe gays need to support them when we can return to events, because they made the bold choice and made sacrifices to support the community. 

Other Areas Under Fire

It’s not just circuit queens that have had to take the brunt of the backlash. Gay men have been having more sex during the global pandemic, and some have organized drug-fueled sex parties and underground orgies that have inadvertently led to more cases of COVID-19. 

http://www.instagram.com/tonyloke01

For months public health officials have set expectations that the holiday season would look different in 2020. In the lead up to the holiday season more restrictions and measures were put into place including staying home and not mingling with people outside of your immediate household. While the majority of people followed the rules and restrictions set in place by public health, there is segment of the community that bent the rules over the holiday’s by hosting open houses, Christmas dinner and NYE parties with groups of friends, and travelled to spend the holidays with family. 

COVID-19 Serving as a Mirror

What the global pandemic has shown more than anything are the true colors of the gay community. There have been many relationships that have been challenged over the past year – friendships have been destroyed or strengthened, relationships have been tested, and lines drawn between those that believe in protecting the community versus those that believe that nothing should stand in the way of their parties. 

AIDS - From gay cancer to global pandemic

COVID-19 is similar to the HIV/AIDS crisis that devastated the gay community for decades – and continues to divide segments of the community. Whatever side of history you happen to be on, how you look back at this time and how it makes you feel will be based on the decisions you have made.

The HomoCulture team urges everyone to respect all public health restrictions and measures by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, (there are many cute face coverings out there to choose from as well as support LGBTQ+ businesses), keep a small social circle, and respecting the six-foot physical distancing. 

Photo credit: Elise Amendola / AP

The great news is that vaccines are at the beginning stages of being rolled out. In the early days, vaccines will be prioritized to the highest risk communities, and as production and distribution ramps up, throughout 2021 it will become more broadly available. In the meantime, the COVID-19 global pandemic will continue. We all must continue to do our part to help reduce the spread, remain calm, be kind to one another, bear in mind we do not know other people’s situations, and that everyone is struggling with their own issues. We need to show understanding and compassion, but at the same time, being responsible.

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