Running an LGBTQ circuit party in the middle of a pandemic, with no cure, which disproportionately harms those with comprised immune systems is madness. While conferences and events, like SXSW were postponed or cancelled, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Winter Party festival ran from March 4–10 over the weekend.

With COVID-19 causing a national health emergency, a dance festival seems reckless and potentially harmful to those with HIV, seniors, and those with other underlying conditions. POZ magazine noted, “Although much remains unknown, it’s clear that older people, those with other health conditions and people with compromised immune systems have a higher likelihood of severe illness. This includes people living with HIV.” Rather than creating incubators for the disease we should be modifying our behavior to care for those among us that could be harmed by the virus. Let’s be clear, I am all for parting during my own personal apocalypse, so long as I am not giving a potentially dangerous virus to members of my queer family.

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The ultimate responsibility in this case stops with the Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Rea Carey. Personally, I like Rea. But there is no justification for this type of event, during these difficult times.

In response to my tweet, saying the Task Force should be ashamed about running this event, the Task Force tweeted back saying:

“We have informed & encouraged our attendees to carry out best practices and standards to minimize the possible transmission of COVID-19, through a harm reduction and wellness lens. For more information please check out the FAQ section on our website. We are following all current local, state, and federal guidelines and best practices. We have been communicating these recommendations to our attendees since this year’s @winter_party started, in emails, on social, and via our website. We are grateful that Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioners Richardson and Gongora joined us Wednesday night at our Welcome Reception and presented us with a proclamation dedicating this week to Winter Party and The National LGBTQ Task Force.”

However, according the Centers for Disease Control:

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Avoiding crowds seems like a key point here. One that would shut down The Winter Party. A key voice on this issue is Dr. Joseph Osmunson who was among the first to call on the LGBTQ community to take a step back from close-proximity nightclubs and dance parties because while we may healthy, we may unknowingly spread COVID-19 to those who have an underlying condition.

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So just to recap:

  1. The Winter Party Festival includes members of the LGBTQ family who are living with HIV and other underlying health conditions.
  2. The Massachusetts Department of Health notes, “COVID-19 virus is spread much like influenza: person-to-person through close contact (within about 6 ft.).” Six feet away is tough to do in a mosh pit dance floor
  3. Caring for each other and putting community before self is something that we learned as a lessons of the HIV/AIDS political assassinations of the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is instructive here.

In short, I would call on the Task Force to take the prudent step and begin testing those at the Winter Party Festival for COVID 19. We are experts in doing testing at events and this could save lives. It would be unthinkable to potentially hold an event, have people contract the disease, not test, and then be unable to monitor its spread. This is the least we can do and something that is necessary.

Researcher on LGBTQ politics and emotions in public policy. Opinions are mine.

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