Like many people, far too many, I lost a loved one to Covid-19. My grandmother came to visit her family a few weeks before she became ill, she was there to show off her new husband, her fifth, having outlived her others. She was perky, sassy, and the happiest I had seen her. She greeted my husband and me with a wide smile and an enthusiastic hug. In her 80s, she had never let anything stop her, but she never anticipated the power of the government.
When she and her husband both tested positive, they were separated. She spent the next week alone, isolated from her family. Covid regulations kept her locked in a room, afraid and crying to see her family one last time. She passed before she was allowed to have the chance. Further Covid regulations prevented us from holding a funeral for her. I had begun making her a quilt, but I wasn’t able to finish in time. All I could think about was all those photos of elderly couples separated by walls of plastic, only wanting to embrace each other.
Yet, for two years, we were all told that these cultural and familial traditions were selfish and dangerous. As Paul Krugman smugly lectured in the New York Times in 2020, “What they call ‘freedom’ is actually absence of responsibility. Rational policy in a pandemic, however, is all about taking responsibility. The main reason you shouldn’t go to a bar and should wear a mask isn’t self-protection, although that’s part of it; the point is that congregating in noisy, crowded spaces or exhaling droplets into shared air puts others at risk. And that’s the kind of thing America’s right just hates, hates to hear.”
Joel Mathis of The Week, citing an anonymous woman replying to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., demanding that people stay home, “‘I’ll do what I want’ — that could end up killing people.” He continued, “her conception that ‘America’ means doing whatever you want, even if it risks harming your neighbors. She’s far from alone in believing the animating idea of this country is a sort of freedom from any responsibility to our fellow citizens.”
After so much emphasis on the importance of personal sacrifice for the greater good, you would think that a new, highly contagious disease would be treated with more seriousness by the left. Instead, when monkeypox crossed over onto America’s shores, the left decided the rules no longer applied to them. Similar to how 1,000 health professionals demanded Black Lives Matter protests were worth the risk during the height of Covid, LGBT folks decided anonymous sex and fetish parades were more important than public safety.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, best known for lowering the criminal penalty for knowingly exposing others to HIV and advocating to keep adults as old as 24 from being placed on the sex offender list if they sexually exploit a minor as young as 14, declared, “Lots of sex shaming of gay men around monkeypox. The same shaming we saw in the 1980s re HIV. Lecturing people not to have sex isn’t a public health strategy. It didn’t stop HIV — it made it worse — & it won’t stop monkeypox. What will work is vaccination, testing & education.”
Encouraging his fellow citizens in San Francisco to ignore the consequences of public sexual exploits, he happily proclaimed, “Awesome @SFAIDSFound guidance on monkeypox & fun. We can continue to have fun while reducing risk. Closing bathhouses in 1980s didn’t reduce HIV. It was an epic blunder & pushed people into the shadows. Let’s not make that same knee-jerk mistake with MPX.”
Jack Turban, assistant professor of child psychiatry at UC San Francisco, insisted, “Monkeypox has serious physical symptoms, but we also need to focus on the mental health impact for the #queer community. Being gay is a healthy & normal aspect of human diversity. Sex is a healthy normal part of life. Have pride in your community while we combat the virus.” Unfortunately, far too many gay men seem intent on keeping their self-esteem intact through prioritizing “fun.”
As the Daily Caller reported, a popular OnlyFans user, with 98,000 followers on his adult Twitter, put into perspective how far this all can go. In the middle of a growing monkeypox outbreak in the gay male community, he decided to attend two orgies in one weekend — sexually engaging with at least 20 and upwards of 40 men — hook up with three additional strangers later that evening, and enjoy a four-way the following day before discovering he had been infected with the disease. If that sounds like an extreme example, keep in mind that the festival promoted by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation was described as “Up Your Alley (aka Dore Alley), where you’ll get your fill of hot hairy daddies, hungry pigs, BDSM babes and kinks of all kinds. Douchie’s got some hot tips for a fun and filthy weekend — free of anxiety.”
Without a hint of self-awareness, Sen. Wiener gasped on Aug. 1, “The monkeypox outbreak is an emergency & we need to use every tool we have to control it. I’m deeply grateful to @GavinNewsom for recognizing the peril we face & thus declaring a state of emergency. This will help expand vaccination, testing & other critical health strategies.” The New England Journal of Medicine determined that 98 percent of cases were gay and bisexual men. The World Health Organization urged gay and bisexual men to limit sexual partners to address the rapid spread.
Despite the above reports indicating that 95 percent of cases have been caused by sexual activity, LGBT people have moved from demanding the disease is not a “gay disease” and complaining of stigma and homophobia to indignantly complaining the government has failed to specifically protect gay people due to bigotry. CNN quoted Samuel Garrett-Pate of Equality California, demanding, “We faced outbreaks that have turned into crises that have turned into epidemics and pandemics that disproportionately impact our community in the past, and unfortunately, in the past, public health entities starting with the CDC and FDA have not moved quickly enough or afforded these outbreaks and public health crises the urgency that they demand.”
During the Covid pandemic, everyone was expected to shut down their lives, at great sacrifice to their families and careers, lock down, stay indoors, and wear masks. The police raided Orthodox Jewish homes to stop services and arrested pastors for holding church services, funerals weren’t allowed, and the media, especially LGBT media, mocked people for dying from Covid. People were accused of being murderers and dangers to society, and Wiener himself berated members of Congress for failing to wear masks.
Yet the most basic expectations of self-control and personal responsibility have been deemed outrageous homophobic bigotry. Unfortunately, this two-tiered system could have serious consequences far beyond the spread among gay male populations. As the CDC points out, monkeypox spreads through close skin-to-skin contact and exchange of body fluids, but also through dirty clothing and fluids from open sores left on surfaces. As gay men spread the virus within their population at startling rates, the chances of it escaping into the mundane world through close contact in stores, crowded streets, or buses increases.
We shut down the world for a virus that had no traceable transmission, it was entirely random. It really isn’t too much to ask for gay men to stop engaging in orgies and public sex events for their “mental health,” their “self-esteem,” and to continue “having fun.” This time around, truly selfish behavior is endangering the rest of us, and we shouldn’t be shamed for speaking out against it.