As public officials address the monkeypox outbreak, many are putting political correctness before public health.
The city of San Francisco allowed a public gay sex party to go forward on Sunday, despite declaring monkeypox a health emergency, The Daily Wire reported.
Festival goes on
The monkeypox outbreak has mostly affected gay men, and the spread of the disease has been linked to gay festivals around the world. San Francisco, one of the biggest hotspots in the United States, declared the outbreak an emergency on Thursday.
Nevertheless, officials were reluctant to stop the Up Your Alley leather and fetish festival, which draws thousands of gay men every year. Also known as Dore Alley, it has been a staple of San Francisco’s gay community since the 1980s, Mercury News reported.
The festival “features rope performances, go-go dancing and vendors selling a wide array of sex toys,” the outlet reported.
The event’s organizers said it was important to let the event take place after more than two years of isolation during COVID that “have been really brutal on everyone, but definitively so on the LGBTQ+ community.”
But some in the LGBT community criticized the event’s organizers for being careless. Michael Davidson, 40, has attended the festival in the past but said he won’t be going to this year’s “super-spreader.”
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation encouraged people to attend despite the health risk, saying, “there’s never been a better time to dress from top to bottom in latex or leather.” Monkeypox spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
While not deadly in most cases, monkeypox can cause extremely painful lesions. Public health officials have been conflicted about how to address the outbreak, with many expressing concerns about stigma toward gays.
The World Health Organization has encouraged gay men to refrain from casual sex, but the organization has also said that stigma “can be as dangerous as any virus.”
The cautious messaging around monkeypox has made for a striking contrast with the heavy-handed response of governments to COVID. Officials effectively criminalized social gatherings, including sacred occasions such as funerals, and demonized those refusing to get vaccinated.
San Francisco has been a pioneering and strict enforcer of COVID restrictions. The city was the first place in the United States to impose a lockdown on its citizens and later became the first city to impose vaccine mandates.