Watch: Shaming or Public Good? Instagram Account Calls Out Gays Breaking COVID Rules

Tuesday January 5, 2021

A screenshot of a partygoer rescued from the ocean in Mexico on New Year's Day.
A screenshot of a partygoer rescued from the ocean in Mexico on New Year's Day.  (Source:Instagram)

One of the bewildering trends of the COVID crisis is the daily exposure on social media of people breaking health protocols to party. From celebrities, social influencers and partying Trump supporters, social media is flooded with instances of such behavior often in ways aimed to shame the perpetrators.

A case in point are the recent Jeffrey Sanker-sponsored New Year's events in Mexico, first scheduled in Puerto Vallarta than moved to a location 30-minutes away. They were widely reported, mostly due to video footage of a sinking party boat that left partygoers in the Pacific. "According to videos and photos shared on Twitter, December 31, the PV Delice — a gay party boat, sank," wrote Instinct Magazine. "The incident left 60 passengers flailing in the ocean and screaming for help as they tried to stay afloat."

References to the Titanic were everywhere, along with pics of partygoers feet up the air as they struggled aboard rescue vessels with their legs up in the air.

But another Instagram is getting attention these days for calling out those partygoers. GaysOverCovid has a simple message: "Wear a mask. Stay home. Save lives. Don't join the GaysOverCovid." It first appeared last summer to provide a forum to call out COVID protocol violators.

The site also links to a YouTube channel "What's Trending" that features a story from reporter Andy Lalwani on the trend of exposing those breaking the rules. In the clip, Lalwani interviews out social influencer Mac Kahey (@MACDOESIT), who defends the trend:

"What we should be doing at this point is just calling people out in what's going on. Some people in this world are so toxic to the point that they really have so many inner-demons that they literally have to be in social situations to escape that. Like we are in the middle of a pandemic and you are still willing to party, there is something going on with you."

Asked by Lalwani if those who report face any risk for exposing those breaking protocol, Kahey replied:

"You are not putting someone at risk calling someone out. Literally if you want to burn someone's bridge, burn someone's bridge. At this point, we are four months in... I mean, let's be honest, we are all stuck inside doing nothing. And there are other people who are trying to go against that. What did they think was going to happen? There are going to be people that have the time and the place now. People are going to make accounts calling them out. You know, we've got the time, we've got the patience now. We've been inside for four months. We've got nothing else to do. We are going to call these people out."

GaysOverCovid, though, has come under criticism for slipping into long-standing homophobic tropes in exposing the parties and those in attendance. In an open letter on the Instagram, out filmmaker and activist Leo Herrera calls out both those partying and those reporting on it.

"Dear Gays Partying in Mexico," he begins. "I want you to know we aren't dragging you or cackling at that sinking party boat because we're jealous (OK, maybe just a little)."

He proceeds to call out those partygoers. "It's not just the colonizer vibes of locals selling their health with a smile for your margarita," he writes. "These giggles are because we understand all too well why you're on that boat to begin with."

Before turning on those reporting it: "You clacking that obnoxious fan at a circuit party during a pandemic is systemic homophobia at work," Herrera explains, "the failure of our schools for not teaching you AIDS history. It's a confirmation that our worship of the sun-kissed Adonis, that flesh-industrial complex of parties and porn has always hidden a culture of nihilism and death."

Signing his post The Other Gays, he ends with this broadside that reinforces the necessity of social media accounts like GaysOverCovid: "These are nervous giggles because you embody the most tedious, vapid and scary parts of us, forcing us to use shame as a weapon and knowing we'll need to unpack yours for years. Thanks for giving us homework when we have so much else on our plate. Don't get me wrong, we also laughed at you cuz you look like f*cking clowns."

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