Going Viral
Posted on 25 Mar 2020

Steve Ball reflects on how the coronavirus is affecting the LGBT community...

How things change. April seemed a good month to write a column suggesting how we can all prepare for our summer holidays in European LGBT hotspots. But given the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, we're more likely to be staying at home than basking on a Mediterranean beach.

All of our lives have changed dramatically in the last few weeks. Going to work, travelling on public transport, visiting our mothers on Mother's Day or going out on the gay scene have all been affected by Covid-19. The impact of the virus has affected everyone, although there are a number of ways in which our LGBT community may be more at risk.

Firstly the LGBT population uses tobacco at rates that are almost 50% higher than the general population. This matters because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease that is harmful to smokers.
Secondly the LGBT population has higher rates of cancer and HIV, both of which can compromise a person’s immune system and make someone more vulnerable to the virus.

There were suggestions that HIV medications may be effective for treating Covid-19, as both diseases are caused by a virus. However, early results are not promising - according to recent clinical trials in coronavirus patients, it didn't make much difference.

Covid-19 redefines ‘safe sex’. The social distancing required of us all prohibits casual hook-ups - but I'm not sure we’re all paying attention. On the evening that Boris Johnson made his emergency statement to the nation, instructing us to stay home, more than 200 guys were on Grindr looking for sex within a two-mile radius of Birmingham city centre. I'm not suggesting that hook-up apps like Grindr and Scruff should be closed down - far from it. We need each other more than ever at the moment, and these apps provide a valuable means of communication, keeping us connected socially. But hooking up physically isn't the only show in town. Let's chat, bring back good old-fashioned phone sex, or if your photo skills are up to it, use the camera from your self-isolating bunker.

Saying no to sex right now doesn't make you the Ann Widdecombe of the coronavirus era, but it will keep us all safe and healthy for the time being so that we can continue to have fun in the future.


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