Nobody likes it when people flout lockdown restrictions. So when anonymous Instagram account @gaysovercovid started exposing the hundreds, if not thousands, of cis, mostly white, muscular gay men flocking to underground, unsafe and often illegal raves, people paid attention. But things took a toxic turn very quickly.
The Insta account started out in July last year (yes, that was still 2020) but it really blew up around the Christmas and New Year’s period, when it publicly revealed a bunch of enormous parties that these people were risking their health over.
Like seriously, you’re going to jeopardise public health for a lame, derivative party like this?
The account also exposed house parties and other COVID-unsafe gettogethers organised by The Gays™.
It’s gotten to a point where people are calling them “the COVID vigilantes”, however the people behind the account apparently think the name isn’t “gay-friendly” enough.
@gaysovercovid even identified a bunch of frontline medical workers who apparently didn’t follow their own health recommendations.
At first, people were obsessed. Nobody likes these wild, COVID-unsafe parties, especially when they’re attended by the same kind of shallow and annoying people who already dilute parties with their vacuous personalities under normal circumstances.
There was also an element of public shaming over breaches of health recommendations, which proved irresistible to most communities throughout the pandemic.
To put it succinctly: we stanned… for a moment.
— Trixie Mattel (@trixiemattel) January 4, 2021
tinashe runs gaysovercovid https://t.co/wBQ0Pd2RVM
— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) December 30, 2020
Very soon, some people began slamming @gaysovercovid for doxxing people, which is basically sharing someone’s name and other details like their social media handles or their workplace info.
That’s a fair complaint, but at the same time plenty of others argued that these people were putting everyone’s health at risk and deserved to identified or even shamed.
This resulted in people demanding that the person or people behind @gaysovercovid identify themselves. A $500 reward was even announced by an apparent victim of the account, who accused them of “trying to out fellow gays, making our community as divisive as ever.”
Similar Instagrammers have already come clean.
apparently there’s a reward for gaysovercovid’s real identity ???? pic.twitter.com/vXXRrWtT5P
— alex (@alex_abads) January 2, 2021
Things continued to go downhill from there.
While most people would argue that illegal and unsafe parties being shut down is generally a good thing, that doesn’t necessarily make the cops themselves good.
But it was too late. @gaysovercovid had become pro-cop.
“Special thanks to the LA Police Department for shutting the underground party down so quickly!!!” the account wrote about a party that was shut down in California.
“And thanks to our followers for the birdseye view of the action!!”
not “special thanks to the lapd”……. ???? pic.twitter.com/ao4L5kTZJw
— Paul McCallion (@OrangePaulp) January 3, 2021
Several local copycat accounts later emerged, although it’s unclear how closely they’re related – if at all – to the original @gaysovercovid account.
Nevertheless, these accounts caused a stir of their own, with one even disclosing an individual’s HIV status in an Insta story, which is an extremely fucked knee-jerk reaction that does little to promote safe sex and instead increases stigmatisation.
My heart just sank. Someone sent me that the Boston version of “gaysovercovid” is now disclosing people’s HIV status. This is abhorrent and puts people at-risk for potential criminalization. pic.twitter.com/avxeaYHCMp
— Jason #StopSISEA Rosenberg (@mynameisjro) January 5, 2021
For a community whose rights – including their right to party – have for decades been quashed by police, by HIV stigamitisation, and by vicious, home-wrecking and career-destroying doxxing, the @gaysovercovid Instagram account has left a sour taste in many people’s mouths.
It’s so easy and tempting to collectively pounce on people who are annoying at the best of times, and who’ve now decided to fly as far as Mexico or Brazil to have extremely unsafe and pretty lame-looking parties which put everyone else’s health at risk.
But there comes a point when wishing police brutalisation and HIV status stigmatisation upon the gays almost comes full-circle towards the same kind of homophobia these people have been fighting for decades to eradicate.