Instagram account @gaysovercovid has the online gay community divided as to whether people should or should not shame influencers partying during a pandemic, flouting numerous guidelines.
Many of the influencers who have been called out by the Instagram page have since gone private or just deleted their social media accounts entirely.
San Francisco nurse Mike Schultz, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 for six weeks, shared a post from another Instagram user calling the partying "survival of the fittest."
An anonymous Instagram account with the handle @gaysovercovid, which now boasts over 106,000 followers, has ignited what some are calling a "gay civil war" within the gay online community. The account has been posting videos, photos, and screenshots of chiseled gay men out partying as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives.
While it was created in July of 2020, it reached its highest peak of notoriety over the weekend when it covered gay influencers, some of whom were also medical professionals, who had traveled to a large gathering in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
While many internet users celebrated what they saw as poetic justice via online shaming, others online criticized the account for using what they believe are inappropriate tactics.
In July, the account started to call out gay influencers and medical workers who were partying during the pandemic
The account was originally created in July, publically shaming large groups of gay men that sometimes included medical workers and influencers who were flouting social distancing guidelines and partying during the pandemic.
The account focused in on muscular men at circuit parties and adjacent gatherings, which are large gay dance parties that have long-been critiqued within the gay community as breeding grounds for toxic traits such as racism, excessive drug use, and body-shaming.
One of the account's first subjects was Armstrong Nworka, a nurse at Cedars Sinai. The account reposted a photo of his where he posed on a beach in San Clemente, California over the Fourth of July weekend. The next two posts, uploaded the same day, were also of the same gathering including a group photo of 30 muscular, maskless gay men. The post encouraged followers to "Tag your gays over Covid!"
Since then, the account has covered numerous large gatherings at various holidays including birthdays, Christmas, and New Year's.
Over New Year's weekend, the account found wide attention with its coverage of parties in Mexico and Brazil
The account went viral when it started covering New Year's celebrations and parties that attracted gay Instagram influencers.
On New Year's Eve, the account posted about the Revolution party in Brazil that was shut down early by authorities. In one video posted by @gaysovercovid, a large group of men could seen dancing shirtless and very close together with the text that reads, "How it started." The next video had text that said, "How it ended, early" with a laughing face emoji. The last photo shows Brazilian authorities shutting down the event.
@Gaysovercovid also posted a screenshot of the Eventbrite page for Jeff Sanker's New Year's Eve White Party in Puerto Vallarta. In the screenshot, the page shows that the organizers were trying to keep a secret and asked people not to take videos, photos, or share the address of the location.
"Please we ask that you not post this information or give it out as this is a private event for our guests and do not want this getting out and causing any issues with the public," the Eventbrite page read.
When the anonymous Instagram page posted the screenshot, they wrote in the caption, "Hosting a party during a global pandemic lacks every ounce of empathy for the sick, dying, dead, and soon to be sick victims. This is done out of greed and only lines their pockets."
The shaming continued as the parties continued.
Multiple smaller influencers with followings ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 followers on Instagram posted videos of themselves at the White Party in Mexico, including Nworka and Austin Foxtail Allan (who took credit for being a part of organizing the pandemic getaway).
A private party boat was rented out for the occasion in Puerto Vallarta and it can later be seen in a viral video, capsized with all of the passengers in life jackets, attempting to get on the rescue boats.
Emilio Blanco was on the boat when it began to sink.
It's still unknown why the boat sank but it might have been because the "water was a bit choppy," Blanco told OutandAboutPV, "I think the crew just didn't know how to maneuver the catamaran very well, the sea was not very rough nor was it too windy."
The group rented the boat from PV Delice Party Cruise. The company did not immediately responded to Insider's request for comment.
Videos from the sinking ship were shared widely on Instagram and Twitter, quickly turning into a meme.
@Gaysovercovid posted a photo of the sinking ship with the caption, "In a series finale ending to 2020 in Puerto Vallarta, the party boat, PV Delice, sank to the bottom of the ocean." The account's memes of the incident helped it go viral and rapidly gain followers.
One account called @xanaxsmoothies posted the video with audio from the movie "Titanic," specifically the scene where rescue boats are looking for survivors.
Twitter account, @fitnessgayz, later posted the video on Twitter, garnering over 2.1 million views in four days. As more eyes were on this mystery account, the more people were upset with them for calling people out, and specifically focusing on the gay community.
—All about the Benjamins (@fitnessgayz) January 1, 2021
Numerous accounts were created criticizing @gaysovercovid, which vanished Sunday evening
The social media debate around @gaysovercovid has been dubbed a "gay civil war" as some have called the account "toxic" and "divisive," stoking tensions in the gay community, while others have celebrated it.
Vox entertainment reporter Alex Abads posted a screenshot of a post from the Facebook group Circuit Bitch (Let's Go) showing a Facebook user named Lan Vu offering a reward for anyone who can reveal the identity of the @gaysovercovid account owner.
—alex (@alex_abads) January 2, 2021
In the Facebook post, Vu wrote, "For so long, they have been hiding behind a screen to call out fellow gays, making our community divisive as ever. If they believe what they're doing is right, why be a coward and not let us know who they really are."
In addition to individual posts critiquing @gaysovercovid, groups dedicated to criticizing the page and party-shaming also popped up. Gays Over Karens appeared with Vu as one of the organizers. Lan posted a screenshot of the account and wrote in the caption, "This page is too toxic and they're literally trying to destroy people's life and career right now." He then invited people to report the account for "inappropriate, bullying and harassment."
"I got a lot of positive responses, like people who wanted to report it," he told Insider, "But then there's also a mix of people who think that I'm doing the wrong thing."
He continued to say, "We went through a lot to be accepted and to be liked, to be accepting of other people without judgment. But this is a lot of hatred, this is a lot of toxic fury."
According to LGBTQ Nation, the account was temporarily suspended after "men repeatedly flagged it as abusive for posting screenshots from photos and videos posted to social media by attendees."
Mike Schultz - a gay nurse who was hospitalized in March with COVID-19 for six weeks - allegedly posted a screenshot of Nate Spengel's Instagram story in which he writes, "You f---ing bitter queens… always tearing down other gays! Get out of your little gay bubble! At this point… survival of the fittest. It's life. Sorry." He captioned the post with two handclapping emojis.
Schultz also posted on his Instagram story that he was looking forward to attending the Puerto Vallarta party but he allegedly said on the Gays Over Karen Facebook page that he didn't go.
@Gaysovercovid was later back to posting memes on Monday morning, announcing their return.
Almost all of the "influencers" who were called out by the anonymous Instagram page have gone private. Seemingly from all of the backlash, they get in the comments on the @gaysovercovid page. Many have also deleted all of their social media accounts.
Others like party promoter, Jeff Sanker, who has thrown multiple parties during the pandemic, has been decidedly silent.
Insider reached out to Sanker for comment but did not immediately hear back from him.
Writer and activist Leo Herrera explained how not only vacationing but partying during a pandemic highlights issues of the many dividers in the LGBTQ+ community - i.e. race, class, health, sexual safety, drug use, body image, and representation.
"We aren't dragging you or cackling at that sinking party boat because we're jealous," Herrera wrote on Instagram, "These giggles are because we understand all too well why you're on that boat to begin with. The dark impulses our community suffers so much to control: the pursuit of pleasure at the expense of spirit, of meth binges and steroid heart attacks, of clubs asking for two forms of ID to Black folx, of casual, deadly transphobia, of gentrification."
He went on to write, "It's a confirmation that our worship of the sun-kissed Adonis, that flesh-industrial complex of parties and porn has always hidden a culture of nihilism and death. These are nervous giggles because you embody the most tedious, vapid and scary parts of us, forcing us to use shame as a weapon and knowing we'll need to unpack yours for years."
Correction: Insider previously reported that Mike Schultz responded to Vu's Facebook post and attributed the quote "survival of the fittest" quote to him. Nate Spengel wrote the quote on his Instagram story and Schultz later posted it on Facebook with handclapping emojis.
Read the original article on Insider