In a new op-ed for TIME, the Queer Eyestar strongly condemned the country's "botched response" to the outbreak, saying that he believes the "exponential" increase in cases over the past few months has been "fueled by homophobia and transphobia."
"When an outbreak affects mainly men who have sex with men, some portion of our elected legislators will have no incentive to act," Van Ness wrote, while pointing out that 2022 monkeypox outbreak has been "primarily affecting queer men" since the first US case was reported in May.
"[Politicians] think it will not touch their constituents, which is obviously messed up because people's lives are at stake," he continued. "And there are queer people in all 50 states."
We need robust education around monkeypox to get in front of these homophobic narratives that are already here. https://t.co/6LkqtmiQSV— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) August 1, 2022
That said, Van Ness said the reality of the situation set in once a friend canceled his trip to see him on-set in New Orleans after being exposed to monkeypox, which spurred him to start "calling all the political contacts I have, ringing alarm bells about how quickly cases were rising and pleading with officials to take the virus more seriously."
But aside from monkeypox being declared a public health emergency earlier this month, the reality star – said that he's been "disappointed in our leaders, especially those who were in office during the onslaught of the AIDS crisis" and saw how government inaction led to an epidemic that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands queer people.
"Once again, we’re seeing too little action taken until the situation has ballooned out of control," he argued. "If nothing changes, we’ll continue to experience failures like this response, which has been plagued with too few tests, lack of access to treatments, inadequate vaccine supply, and ambiguous guidance."
So naturally, Van Ness went on to compare the government's handling of monkeypox to its COVID-19 mobilization efforts, before wondering why "we haven’t seen this administration prioritize the rapid procurement of monkeypox vaccines" in the same way. Because as he argued, "this isn't just a monkeypox story" or an issue that affects the LGBTQ+ community. Rather, it's "a story of how we consistently fail people on the margins."
"We have to become bold about what we’re willing to witness," as Van Ness concluded. "And no one should have been willing to witness this outbreak spread for the last two months."
Read Van Ness' entire op-ed here.
Photo via Getty / Jim Spellman
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