Queer Mobilizations To Counter Monkeypox

As fears of Monkeypox spread arose in the spring and summer of 2022—particularly in and around communities of men who have sex with men and their sexual partners—many were concerned about the possibility of yet another overlapping pandemic, especially one that might further stigmatize LGBTQ populations at a time when they were facing increasing political attacks from the right. However, many queer, disability, and public health activists (and especially those at the intersection) quickly responded, demanding government action to equitably make vaccines available, particularly to communities most at-risk. Still, government rollout was slow, with resources for testing, vaccines, and treatments taking months to reach impacted communities.

In September 2022, Wired magazine published an article with the headline, “Monkeypox Cases in the US Are Falling. No One Knows Why.” A number of activists highlighted the ways that queer communities responded to Monkeypox outbreaks (and government inaction) with urgency and community care, particularly citing queer responses to HIV/AIDS—such as the tweets above. Unsurprisingly, such general claims both quickly spread on social media and were also met with critiques from within queer communities, particularly drawing attention to the complications of HIV/AIDS activism (and discourses of similarity across pandemics) as well as highlighting many queer activists’ roles in Covid-19 response as well. —Harris Kornstein