Previous Next 

Jun 28 2020
The Gays Of Hell's Kitchen Continue To Cavort, COVID-19 Be Damned Comments (0)

Matthew-rettenmund-covid19-coronavirus-hells-kitchen-boycultureThat advertising sign on the right was ironic. (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

I have been out and about in the COVID-19 crisis; I have dogs to walk twice a day, I've never shied away from ordering food in person, visiting my grocery store or taking a walk. I would say I am vigilant about mask-wearing and avoiding prolonged indoor contact with others.

So, I'm not as cloistered as some of my acquaintances, but it still strikes me as defiantly dumb how many gay men, in particular, in Hell's Kitchen feel empowered to ignore social distancing, masks and other measures in their desire to pointlessly congregate in public.

I realize I'm far less social than most, but why are so many people tripping over themselves for the privilege of sitting at a table on the sidewalk on Ninth Avenue, where maskless homeless people now run amok (not anti-homeless here, think all citizens should be housed, clothed and fed with no questions asked) to approach diners for hand-outs? Where you're sitting on the same chairs and at the same tables countless others have just been? Where you're a few (not six) feet away from other diners? And where many seated near you do not wear a mask?

Is crappy food in steamy heat worth that risk?

More annoyingly — and I am not the first to point this out — gay bars and other bars are serving people, who then mingle outside instead of leaving or keeping their distance. Most of those people have no masks or have masks hooked under their chins for reasons best explained by them.

Yesterday, I strolled through Hell's Kitchen by the Ritz on W. 46th. It was mobbed, and very few men had masks; certainly, some did.

Young, healthy gay men have died of COVID-19, and a lot of people online have mocked them for it (I'm thinking of the guys who went to the White Party WELL BEFORE anything was closed down, who were the subject of ghoulish online comments about deserving to die, or the survivor who shed so much weight that some on the Internet joked that he really just lost it all due to steroid withdrawal), and yet ... here we are, mixing it up without masks.

To what end?

Not a whole lot can be done about people taking risks. I have a smart friend on Facebook who all but bragged that he had returned to his Canadian gym mask-free (indoors?!), where the staff told him masks were not proven to be helpful anyway, so I get it — people are over it and many will simply do as they like.

But it's a jarring juxtaposition to have friends asking for prayers for family members battling COVID-19, and to see others cavorting at a pretty gross bar on a pretty gross block just in order to, I guess, convince themselves things are going to be okay.

Hopefully, they will. I wish these guys no ill will. I just wish I understood.

Mask up, if nothing else.