Whistleblower exposing ‘privileged’ gay men ignoring the pandemic to party sparks ‘gay civil war’
The GaysOverCovid Instagram has sparked a “gay civil war”.
The world is in the midst of the deadliest rise in coronavirus case numbers since the pandemic began – but some gay men are flouting restrictions to party like it’s 2022.
Much of the gay community has watched in horror in recent days as a number of high-profile “circuit parties” – largely attended by white gay influencers – went ahead in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, with one, taking place aboard a boat, ending in disaster.
Now, one anonymous queer person has taken it upon themselves to expose the gay men attending the potential super-spreader events.
An Instagram account, titled GaysOverCovid, was originally set up in the summer to highlight the huge numbers of shirtless, muscular gay men flocking to large parties – but the account took on a life of its own following a huge number of gay circuit parties in Puerto Vallarta, along with other regions.
The account, which was temporarily deactivated following a storm of complaints from gay influencers implicated in the scandal, has sparked a “gay civil war” on social media, with queer people divided on whether it’s right or wrong to shame white gay influencers for flouting restrictions – and for potentially jeopardising people’s lives.
In recent days, the GaysOverCovid Instagram account has joked about the party ship that sank in Puerto Vallarta on New Year’s Eve, and has pleaded with gay influencers to have “empathy” for others.
In one post, the account lashed out at gay men for attending a party in Los Angeles, despite the city’s spiralling coronavirus caseload, writing: “They’re begging people to stay home. And you can’t resist the urge to host and attend a party.
“This is not about you. It’s about the person having a heart attack that’s going to be turned away because there’s no room.”
Controversially, GaysOverCovid has also shared pictures of gay men – some of them frontline healthcare workers – partying on New Year’s Eve, questioning how they could have proceeded with their plans as the pandemic spiralled out of control.
The account has also called out “white privilege”, noting that the vast majority of gay men pictured partying abroad have been white.
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GaysOverCovid Instagram sparks reward offer for true identity of whistleblower.
The anonymous curator of the GaysOverCovid Instagram account has faced a wave of backlash from gay influencers embroiled in the controversy, with some even offering financial rewards to anyone who can help unveil their identity.
Some have criticised the account for tracking influencers’ Facebook locations and Venmo transactions in an effort to uncover where they are attending parties – but others have celebrated them for exposing the bad behaviour of gay men.
apparently there’s a reward for gaysovercovid’s real identity ? pic.twitter.com/vXXRrWtT5P
— alex (@alex_abads) January 2, 2021
The furore has sparked fierce debate online, with a huge number of LGBT+ people firmly defending GaysOverCovid from criticism.
— Trixie Mattel (@trixiemattel) January 4, 2021
— BLMorlando (@MorlandoBl) January 3, 2021
gaysovercovid revealing themself to get that $500 pic.twitter.com/gCc3518Ve6
— joey (@joeba_fettt) January 3, 2021
One of my least favorite people ever ended up on gaysovercovid. pic.twitter.com/Fl8LbKRYMZ
— caleb with a c for… (@goldgrovered) December 31, 2020
I fully believe the creator of gaysovercovid probably has a little bit of an unhealthy fixation they should work on but also… I’m loving it
— Hellvetika (@PanderShirts) December 31, 2020
me to the owner of gaysovercovid pic.twitter.com/hPZraYyCX0
— a lifetime bitch (@scotty_13_) January 4, 2021
In one viral Twitter thread, Zack Ford explored some of the reasons why so many gay men are flocking to the likes of Puerto Vallarta at the worst moment of the pandemic.
“This really is a conversation about (mostly white) gay male culture, in group/out-group dynamics, superficiality and body image issues, and what it means to celebrate sexual freedom as gay men,” he wrote.
“It’s actually complicated stuff, and nuance gets lost.”
Ford noted that there was a “massive disconnect” between the gay men who were doing everything in their power to stay safe, and those who are flouting public health guidance.
I usually don't wade too deep into gay Twitter, but what's happening with the gaysovercovid insta, the Puerto Vallarta and other NYE circuit parties, and the "gay civil war" unfolding as a result is hella interesting, so here's a quick explainer thread with some thoughts. 1/x
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) January 3, 2021
Gaysovercovid, and the many joining in its shaming, has prompted a backlash from PV-goers and their allies, insisting that shame is only harmful, doesn't change behavior, and constitutes "cyberbullying." https://t.co/lHVjrdkccA 13/x
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) January 3, 2021
The result, as evidenced by the GaysOverCovid Instagram row, has been a “feud” in the gay community between those who believe that public health guidelines should be observed, and those who believe their social lives are more important than the health of vulnerable people.
Ford wrote: “Part of me sees just a hot mess of petty squabbling that I would normally ignore. But part of me also sees a ton of questions to unpack for myself, for our community, and likely for society as a whole about how to handle this kind of risky behaviour.”
He said the “superficial admiration” of muscular white gay men “fuels and encourages” risky behaviour – and that shame is a powerful tool for those who want to express their disapproval.
“Perhaps this little ‘gay civil war’ is an opportunity to say: We need to expect more from each other. I support GaysOverCovid’s efforts not because I care whether people go to circuit parties, but because I care whether their decisions endanger others – which they do.”
The furore comes as coronavirus cases surge in many countries across the world. The United States recorded more than 200,000 new cases on 3 January alone.
An estimated 1.8 million people have died worldwide with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.