WITH CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS, HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE QUEER COMMUNITY?

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If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all this week, then I’m sure you’re all overwhelmed with the amount of cancellations that have been happening in regards to the recent coronavirus epidemic. Coachella, DragCon, LA Pride, Broadway shows, movie premieres (Mulan, A Quiet Place 2, Fast and Furious 9) have all been canceled and/or delayed, and it was just announced via their Facebook page that The Eagle will be closed “until further notice due to coronavirus concerns.

So it got me to wondering…how will this affect the queer community, most notably the nightlife scene. Over in Bugliano, Italy Mayor Fabio Buggiani issued a statement prohibiting orgies and gang bangs anywhere inside the city limits. Additionally, threesomes and sex involving more than two people have also been banned for the foreseeable future.

So what does this mean for places in America where sexual intimacy occurs or bars and clubs where gay men want to drink and let their hair down after a stressful week at work? I’ll use New York for example, since that’s where I reside. I won’t mention the names of “certain establishments” that feature men exchanging fluids beyond saliva, but will those establishments be forced to shut down until this epidemic is contained?

It is beyond impossible to stop the gays from wanting to hook up via apps like Grindr, or get flooded wearing nothing but a jockstrap and a smile at your local sex party, but I’ll just say this – if you’re feeling sick, stay home. Don’t risk the lives of others because you want to get your rocks off, especially when mainstream LGBTQ advocacy groups in the US, including HRC, GLAAD, and over 90 other organizations recently signed an open letter to remind “all parties handling COVID-19 surveillance, response, treatment, and media coverage that LGBTQ+ communities are among those who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.”

The letter states that LGBTQ people have an increased vulnerability linked to the following factors.

“1. The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.

“2. The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.

“3. LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.”

And let’s not forget LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment.

So with all that being said, I ask my fellow LGBTQ constituents to be safe, take extra precautions, and frequently wash your damn hands and try your hardest not to touch your face.

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