Zack Ford Profile picture
3 Jan, 28 tweets, 8 min read
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
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. It's actually complicated stuff, and nuance gets lost. We'll see how I do. 2/x
At the heart of the current discourse is the concept of the circuit party, these massive all-nighter dance raves of fit shirtless gays. They naturally are very sexually open, but are also known to include a high prevalence of drug use and risky sex practices. 3/x
Even people like me who don't want or care to have an ultra-fit body or participate in circuit party culture can appreciate the celebration of sexual freedom and expression they embody (pun intended). But for some, it truly does seem to define their social group and behavior. 4/x
Enter COVID-19. Each of the summer holidays this year prompted concern that these circuit party participants were going to continue their activities, *completely* disregarding safety concerns. See also: "COVID Corey"/4th of July on Fire Island: metroweekly.com/2020/07/gay-ma… 5/x
This massive disconnect between what many of us gay men were doing to stay safe and how some of us were acting prompted a lot of reflection on parallels between the AIDS epidemic and COVID, shame, and the impact on our behavior. 6/x
In March, @MyFabDisease stressed the importance of not comparing them: marksking.com/my-fabulous-di…

But as @mathewrodriguez wrote in April, there were some important parallels to keep in mind and lessons to apply to the new pandemic: thebody.com/article/covid-… 7x
There was also this notable piece from Ty Mitchell, who attended the Fourth of July Fire Island parties, trying to unpack how we address risk while pursuing intimacy. I wasn't totally compelled by his argument, but it was still an interesting read: buzzfeed.com/tymitchell/to-… 8/x
Summer ended and aside from a burst at Halloween, we didn't hear much about these conversations until we arrived at New Year's and a massive circuit party happening in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There was also a big one in Rio, and others, but PV was in the spotlight. 9/x
With the pandemic the absolute worst its been in the U.S., many were aghast to see how many gay men were openly boasting on social media their plans to flee to PV for this massive party, which surely had the potential to be a super-spreader event. 10/x
This prompted instant Schadenfreude when we received back images like this gay cruise boat capsizing. No one was hurt, but it sure felt like karma was doing its work: 11/x
But whoever is running the "gaysovercovid" Instagram account has been doing real yeoman's work to identify and out the people who went to PV, analyzing Facebook location data, Venmo payments, and more. It's pretty remarkable: instagram.com/gaysovercovid/ 12/x
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." 13/x
As one user countered, however, there are a ton of issues underlying this gay community feud — issues of race, class, health, sexual safety, drug use, body image, and representation, and shame is a powerful tool at our disposal: 14/x
In the latest stunningly ironic development, the party goers are now offering a $500 reward to ID GaysOverCovid, accusing them of sowing division. The people who made the divisive decision are now using shame to scapegoat the person outing them. 15/x
This "incentive" has prompted some rather incredible memes and a humorous "I'm Spartacus" reaction from the many people who support what GaysOverCovid is doing to raise awareness about the people in our community making unnecessarily unsafe decisions 16/x
What really captivated me was seeing the role that Mike Schultz is playing in this. Back in April, this gay nurse was hospitalized for COVID after attending a circuit party. He was on a ventilator and raised $20,000 on a GoFundMe for his expenses: advocate.com/news/2020/4/06… 17/x
Despite his stirring narrative about why we should take COVID seriously, Schultz apparently not only went to the PV party, but endorsed that it was "survival of the fittest," and is now trying to help out GaysOverCovid: 18/x
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 even for society as a whole about how to handle this kind of risky behavior. 19/x
I, myself, have found comfort in the power of shame as people in my own life have made decisions around COVID that made me not feel safe and who had no problem moving on without me when I was unwilling to join. It gave me a way to channel the anxiety their photos caused me. 20/x
I also look at the culture of instagays and how circuit parties are basically a promenade of bodies and see the way our superficial admiration fuels and encourages this kind of behavior. Shame is the one thing they try to escape, so it's not surprising they're so triggered. 21/x
Is shame the most effective way to motivate different behaviors? Arguably not. But I wonder if there's a bit of a reckoning happening where our standards are rising. It's not just enough to care about your own body, you have to care about others too. 22/x
The people dismissive of COVID precautions are endangering the rest of us, whether it's to go to circuit parties or to go to church. The priority of finding in-group community and willingness to reject out-group concerns is exactly the same. 23/x
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. 24/x
I think it's reasonable to hold people accountable for needlessly endangering others, but perhaps especially when their capital is attention, admiration, and popularity. Maybe being hot shouldn't give you a pass to be a shitty human? That seems like a fair proposition. 25/x
As a final note, I have to say: Yeah, I'm kind of pissed by these circuit parties too. I've made the tough decisions and sacrifices to be safe all year, and I have to remind myself it was worth it even when others didn't do the same. I hope you stay safe too. 26/26
Could anyone better reinforce my point than someone with a shirtless selfie and no last name defending people "living their best lives" and fat-shaming me? According to his posts, he agrees with Trump that "the 'remedy' is worse than the disease." Ok! 27/26
2nd Epilogue: I can't help but notice a trend among those directly criticizing my thread: conservative political sympathy.

There are layers of privilege, conspiratorial thinking, and political perspective intersecting with all of this. So much more to unpack! 28/26

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More from @ZackFord

4 Nov 20
THREAD: Set aside the election for a moment. This morning, SCOTUS is hearing arguments in a case about a Catholic foster care agency in Philly that insists it should be able to discriminate against same-sex couples. Here's a gallimaufry of thoughts based on my past reporting. 1/x
Catholic Social Services is suing the city of Philadelphia, arguing it should be able to violate city nondiscrimination law — and its own contract agreeing to comply with that city law — to refuse to place foster kids with same-sex couples because of its religious beliefs. 2/x
The whole situation arose because of journalism! The Philly Inquirer and Daily News did an investigation identifying city-funded agencies that refused to work with LGBTQ people or same-sex couples. That report prompted Philly to ask, "What's going on here?" 3/x
Read 54 tweets
4 Nov 20
Trump rattling off a bunch of states he thinks he's won, claiming Georgia, even though results have not been fully counted and it's too close to call. Also claiming to have "a lot of life" in Arizona.
Trump also claiming to be winning Pennsylvania, falsely, to a standing ovation. Votes won't be fully counted for *days.*
Trump also falsely claiming victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, despite admitting that only just more than half of votes have been tabulated.
Read 5 tweets
1 Nov 20
Even if Dems win this week, how do we reconcile the radicalism Trump has fomented? We still have people who want to kidnap governors, run campaigns off the road, etc. Saving our democracy and saving our society feel like two different things right now...
Yes, minority rule has prevailed, and if we can't correct that this election, any real notion that we're a democracy will have to be abandoned. But even if we accomplish that, there is so much more work we have to do to build peace amongst ourselves...
I'm definitely worried about the turmoil of the next few months, but I wonder if my expression of that fear is part of the problem. I still want to believe that all my fellow humans are capable of compassion and understanding, that some amount of reconciliation is possible...
Read 7 tweets
3 Oct 20
Anybody else feeling like this would be a great time for the U.S. to be conquered? Like not a violent war, just a really peaceful takeover — more like an intervention by all the other friendly democracies out there who've been watching what's been going on here...
"United States, do you know why we brought you here today? Your Constitution was built on a foundation of inequality, all your branches of government have been co-opted by minority rule, and you're endangering the whole world with your ineptness..."
"In short, you're toxic, and we're just not putting up with it anymore. We're here to give you a fresh start, a nice little makeover, and something more resembling the much better forms of democracy we've figured out since you got it all started back in 1619 — I mean 1776..."
Read 4 tweets
14 Sep 20
Another stellar day for Newsweek, as it welcomed anti-LGBTQ bigot Matthew J. Franck to expound how he thinks systemic racism is a conspiracy theory. The fact a white guy gets to publish such a screed in a major outlet is a strike against his thesis. newsweek.com/racism-real-sy…
The most challenging concept of Critical Race Theory is that you can still contribute to racism without intending to. Conservatives are insisting they're victims to this claim! #WhiteFragility

Don't get lost in the noise. They're *defending* the role they play.
Frank's claim that in these teachings "the actual racists are let off the hook" is certifiably false.

It's by pinning all the focus on overt racists, as he insists, that the rest of us are let off the hook for our inadvertent role in perpetuating racism. We can do better.
Read 4 tweets
7 Sep 20
Thread: @Facebook has a real problem. We already know Facebook's content moderation sucks in terms of what they allow. From what I can tell, however, there is currently no way to report the content of a comment left on your post. And boy did I just get a doozy.
Unlike Twitter, I keep my Facebook more personal. That's in part because my very outspoken career tends to attract some very nasty trolls who find their way to my page and litter it with comments I don't want my friends and family to have to see.
Thus, I keep most of my posts friends-only. Every once in a while, though, folks want to share what I've written and ask that I make it public. That's what happened with a variation of this tweet thread about people's insistence on condemning looting:
Read 8 tweets

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