Circuit Parties in the Time of Corona, GaysOverCovid, and a New ‘Gay Civil War’

Circuit Parties in the Time of Corona, GaysOverCovid, and a New ‘Gay Civil War’

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Chances are, you’ve heard about GaysOverCovid, you’ve heard about the “new gay Titanic” and you’ve heard about people being generally irresponsible during a global pandemic. Most casual purveyors of the internet can attest to some knowledge about these things. However, if you — like me during multiple occasions over the past 73 months that made up 2020 — have been in a purgatory state of re-binging the same Michael Schur show or staring at a wall for 50 hours out of the day, you may have missed news of the Gay Civil War.

On Dec. 31, the PV Delice party boat ended the year in true 2020 fashion: by sinking to the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. About 60 gay men were on board, despite the CDC’s advisement that traveling to Mexico should be avoided at all costs and that public gatherings of more than eight people are strictly prohibited in much of Mexico. In fact, this gay party cruise was just one in a slew of planned COVID-spreader events for Americans, orchestrated by California-based circuit party planner Jeffrey Sanker.

Did the event planners ever once think, “Maybe this isn’t such a great idea, because of the global pandemic situation?” Or is it possible they simply were not aware of the global pandemic?

Uhh … no. Actually, the PV Delice cruise was originally set to start in the Mexican state of Jalisco, but was relocated at the last minute because of public health regulations. Sanker went as far as to ask attendees of the event not to share any details of his planned parties, and prohibited photos or videos of the events … almost as if he knew what he was doing was wrong.

Naturally, word got out about the disaster. And the Instagram account GaysOverCovid — which aggregates images depicting large public gatherings of gay men that have been posted to public social media accounts, along with the occasional funny meme — skyrocketed in popularity.

Although the account has been active since the summer — when it called out a Cedars-Sinai nurse celebrating the 4th of July, maskless, on a beach — things really began to kick off over the last few weeks of December, because the holiday season brings out the best in people. Sorry — I meant the worst. The holiday season brings out the absolute worst in people.

One look through GaysOverCovid will convince you of the same. Take a look for yourself (the blurring of faces is ours):

“Merry 19 Person In-Door Covid No Mask Christmas” may be the phrase that breaks me, by the way.

Following the NYE events, the GaysOverCovid account is more popular than ever, with more than 100k followers. Because a group of privileged gay Americans flying out to Mexico in secret to be wildly irresponsible and put other people’s lives in danger reeks of colonizer energy, disrespect, and classism, and probably also because no one actually drowned, the situation has turned into meme fodder. A lot of folks are understandably angry. Those of us who care about people other than ourselves have been cooped up in our homes since March, waiting for an administration that actively refuses to do its job to … do its job.

It is exhausting and demoralizing to see these careless displays of selfishness and disregard for each other within our community, because historically the needs and safety of the LGBTQ community itself have been continually diminished or ignored. Like, what is not clicking here? So, yes. Memes have been made. Individual accounts have been publicly identified and shamed for breaking COVID restrictions. Even careful Venmo-sleuthing has been utilized in order to figure out who went to Mexico.

And now, apparently the Gay Civil War has begun.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy being called out in front of 100,000 others … so much so that there is currently a $500 reward being offered for GaysOverCovid’s true identity.

“For so long they have been hiding behind the screen trying to out fellow gays, making our community as divisive as ever,” the post reads. “If they believe what they’re doing is right, why be a coward and not let us know who they really are.”

It’s interesting and perhaps borderline offensive that shaming individuals for flagrantly violating public health recommendations is being compared to being outed here. The former is easily avoidable by not being selfish; the latter is a deeply painful and oftentimes traumatic occurrence in the life of many queer folks.

Now, there is also a legitimate question of whether public shaming is a truly helpful tactic.

Do we do it because we think it shows others the errors of their ways, or do we do it because it feels good? GaysOverCovid has undoubtedly led to — at its most innocent — people’s feelings being hurt, and — at its worst — people’s identities being doxxed, and their livelihoods being ruined. The account has also sparked facets to this controversy I don’t know for sure that anyone saw coming: namely, finger-pointing to some sort of inherent quality in gay men that makes them act in irresponsible ways.

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