For LGBTQ people in New York, the last Friday in June is usually a happy day. The streets come alive with the telltale signs of a party weekend: music, dancing, kisses, the occasional trail of glittering confetti.
But this year, on the eve of the city’s biggest Pride events, the atmosphere had a different charge. News Friday morning of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade immediately changed the tenor of the weekend’s events. In many circles, group discussions that a few days earlier had focused on party planning shifted to coordinating protest plans. Questions and concerns surrounding monkeypox, a virus that disproportionately affects gay people, further complicate people’s attitudes as the weekend approaches.
New York City health officials on Thursday expanded access to a monkeypox vaccine, offering it to men who have had multiple or unnamed male sex partners in the past 14 days. . As of Friday, 39 people in New York had tested positive for the orthopoxvirus, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which added that all 39 cases were believed to be monkeypox.
According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox is transmitted from person to person through close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials. The virus usually begins with flu-like symptoms, such as fever and swollen lymph nodes, and progresses to a painful rash.
Although anyone can contract the virus, it is currently spreading primarily through communities of men who have sex with men, officials said.
As photos of long lines of people waiting to be vaccinated at a sexual health clinic in Manhattan circulated on social media and cases of monkeypox spread around the world, some New Yorkers began to reconsider. their plans for Pride weekend.
Joseph Osmundson, a clinical assistant professor of biology at New York University and a queer health care advocate, said growing concerns about monkeypox had affected the Pride plans of “virtually everyone” he knew. .
“Everything from whether you’re going to the circuit party, are you going to be in the middle of the dance floor or are you going to be more apart, to the kinds of sex you have,” Dr Osmundson said, 39, said in a telephone interview.
He said he thinks people “generally make risk-conscious decisions” while leaving room for “companionship, fun, community and getting out of the house.”
Finley King, 24, a film production assistant, said monkeypox issues and the news from Roe were affecting his plans for this weekend, but he would feel relatively comfortable attending a protest and to keep away, or to go to an outdoor party.
“In terms of worry, I’m like, 4 out of 10 on the panic scale.,he said, adding that he hadn’t seen many of his friends discuss the disease. “I would say most people my age either know about monkeypox and don’t care, or they don’t even know about it at all.”
Outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on Friday, Rusty Fox, 59, said the small apprehension he felt about monkeypox was likely just residual anxiety from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m a bit paranoid, just because we’re just trailing behind Covid,” he said. “So this paranoia is kind of sinking.”
Michael Donnelly, a data scientist, expressed frustration that this year’s Pride festivities were colored by another virus.
“It really stinks that we have to deal with another infectious disease that is spreading within our community and that we have to deal with an additional risk that we did not anticipate,” he said. But for Mr Donnelly, 37, the “huge demand” for the monkeypox vaccine on Thursday pointed to a silver lining.
“I’m proud that we have a community that communicates about our health, about science, and is ready to get vaccinated to keep us and our communities safe,” he said.
What to know about the Monkeypox virus
What is monkey pox? Monkeypox is an endemic virus in parts of central and western Africa. It is similar to smallpox, but less serious. It was discovered in 1958, after outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released advice to reduce the risk of contracting monkeypox, noting that festivals, concerts and other events where attendees were likely to be fully clothed were safer than spaces, including raves, saunas and sex clubs, where minimal clothing was worn.
Some, like Chris Pierce, 26, were convinced that their personal precautions were enough.
“It’s definitely something people should be worried about, especially when we’re behind closed doors,” he said, “but staying outside is probably my No. 1 goal this weekend. “
The only New York facility administering the vaccine, the city-run Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic in Manhattan, had to start turning people away almost immediately after opening the vaccination to eligible New Yorkers on Thursday.
Regarding his plans this weekend, Mr Donnelly said he was ‘one of the lucky few to have had a vaccine, so I feel a certain extra degree of security’.
Jonathan Valdez, 36, a content creator and podcast host, said for the first time a friend of his told him he was happy to miss New York City Pride, citing concerns about monkeypox. “A lot of people are worried that after this weekend,” Valdez said, “the numbers will go up a lot.”
Jeremy Allen contributed report.
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