An Open Letter to Young Queers in the Time of COVID-19

Several younger queers have asked those of us who live through the worst of AIDS have any lessons from that. My answer is yes, and the lesson is that THIS IS NOT AIDS.

Why does that matter? HIV is difficult to transmit. You either have to have sex or share needles. If you have sex, the only people you put at risk are you and your partner (and subsequent partners). Many gay men worked out a lifestyle of paying attention to about half of which health authorities told them, figuring that it was their life to live and their risk to take.

COVID-19 is HIGHLY TRANSMISSIBLE. NO ONE CAN PUT ONLY THEMSELVES AT RISK. And the people you will put most at risk by not thinking this through are the nurses and doctors who will care for you. Think about it: In Italy right now there are hospitals which can barely function because of all the nurses who are sick. ICU wards are overflowing with the workers who cared for the first wave.

I am very worried that if some gay men take the sexual practices they developed in the age of PREP, and carry it with them into the age of COVID-19, disaster will ensue.

THE WAY TO PRACTICE RADICAL QUEER LOVE NOW IS TO STAY HOME, DON’T HOOK UP, AND BE RIGOROUS ABOUT SOCIAL DISTANCING.

We will get through this.

And remember: if you have a home and are a citizen you are far better off than many among us.

– Bob Ostertag

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