We’re setting the scene for our most explosive season of gay COVID-19 shaming. With restrictions loosening across the country, social events are becoming less clandestine, even though cases are still higher than at any point last summer. At this point, it’s beyond apparent that decisions on lockdowns and business closures are centered around political expediency, rather than science. Who can blame people for being fed up?
We’ve always been told vaccinations were the end game, and finally, we can start to see the light. On Tuesday, President Biden said we will have enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May. If the pace of vaccinations continues at the current rate, we could approach herd immunity around June, CNN reports.
Just in time to lift your veils and head to Palm Springs for the Fourth! Consider this your permission slip–with caveats, of course.
Each stage of quarantine has been marked by infamous gay revelers: the White Party Gays; Fire Island Gays; and most recently, PV Gays. On a certain level, their nihilism is understandable. Big social events are the lifeblood of gay culture. They’ve always represented an opportunity for the disconnected to find community, and for the last year, we’ve been mandated to stay apart.
Since the start of COVID, smart public health voices have been preaching the importance of risk mitigation. Unsurprisingly, many of them work in HIV/AIDS research, such as Harvard epidemiologist Julia Marcus. She wrote the definitive piece about quarantine fatigue way back in May, when public officials were still foolishly closing playgrounds and green spaces.
For the first time in a year, there is genuine reason for optimism. New infections have fallen 70 percent nationwide over the last six weeks, with hospitalizations plummeting by nearly 60 percent. People understandably want to exhale, which is why it was disappointing to see this headline in the New York Times: “The U.S. Is Edging Toward Normal, Alarming Some Officials.”
At a news briefing Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci allowed that for small groups of people who have been fully vaccinated, there was low risk in gathering together at home. But his words of encouragement didn’t go beyond that. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was even more conservative.
“The goal is not to sort of open up travel, open up all of, you know, things because people—you know, we’re scaling up vaccination,” she told reporters. “I think we all need to keep our eye on the fact that we’re not out of the woods here yet.”
Of course, no sane person would allege the pandemic is over. It will be many more months before I even think about stepping into a nightclub. But if vaccinated people shouldn’t feel more comfortable traveling, why are we spending hours scouring for appointments on faulty state websites?
At one point, there has to be a finish line in sight. The endless drumbeat of draconian warnings produces demoralization, not vigilance. I am happy to keep wearing my mask in public spaces and abstain from large indoor group gatherings for as long as it’s advisable. But please, let me rent a house in Ptown with a handful of my vaccinated friends this summer, and don’t shame me if we post a group photo on Instagram.
Obviously, COVID is responsible for greater tragedies than lost nights out. But it’s not selfish to yearn for Tea Dance. Physical distancing is especially hard for gay men, who already came into the pandemic with disproportional rates of mental health issues.
The Pfizer vaccine is found to be 92 percent effective at preventing severe illness over two shots, and 62 percent after one. With odds like that, you can bet I’ll be dragging my pale vaccinated ass to Carnival this summer, and not feel the need to explain myself.
Experts agree the dramatic fall in cases show Americans have altered their behavior. We’re fulfilling our end of the bargain. It’s not shameful to start planning for brighter days–or in my case, a late-night rendezvous around Dick Dock.
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