Real Talk. News, views, and opinions about the big stories of the day.
Wherever you are in the world, there’s a lot going on – there’s a lot to keep up with.
Let’s take a look at some of the big stories from an LGBTQ perspective.
Happy Pancake Day!
Pancake Day – or Shrove Tuesday if we’re being accurate – is a religious holiday that I can really get behind. While it’s always fun to cook your own pancakes, this year I’m getting mine from Bad Egg in London. If you feel like making a party of it, head to The Book Club in Shoreditch.
Not just an excuse to eat pancakes, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of Lent – a period of fasting. Today’s the last day for using up all the treats in your cupboard, for gorging a bit, before the penitential fasting begins.
I’m not totally on board with the fasting aspect of this tradition, but I am totally here for the pancakes.
The fall of Harvey Weinstein
Long seen as untouchable, the man who’s gross sexual misconduct fuelled the #MeToo movement has now been convicted of rape. He faces up to 25 years in jail. Weinstein is planning to appeal, protesting his innocence.
The conviction doesn’t undo the damage he’s done to the women he’s assaulted – at least 80 have come forward and told their stories. But it does help to bring some sense of justification and closure. Weinstein has been actively discrediting his accusers, he has used his power and influence to intimidate his victims and punish anyone who spoke out against him. Rose McGowan – an early accuser – has had her career and her reputation destroyed by Weinstein.
The #MeToo movement hasn’t meant the end of men sexually assaulting women – particularly in workplace situations where there is an imbalance of power. Let’s support each other. Let’s learn from these examples. Let’s not allow ourselves to be put in situations where we are vulnerable. Let’s prosecute men who commit sexual assault – whoever they are.
Staying informed about Covid-19
We’re effectively holding our breath in relation to Covid-19 – the strain of coronavirus that is currently causing havoc around the world – teetering on the brink of a global pandemic.
Since the first reported case was on 31 December. Over 80,000 people have now been diagnosed as having acquired the virus, and at least 2,600 have died. Just some context for that, the Spanish Flu of 1918 infected 500 million people around the world and killed at least 17 million people.
The World Health Organisation has expressed concern that the pattern of infection is worrying – around the world there are an increasing number of cases with no clear epidemiological link – such as travel history to or contact with a confirmed case.
So far, China has suffered the brunt of impact of the virus. After initially trying to suppress information about the virus, Chinese authorities are now full-throttle on public health initiatives – building hospitals, imposing curfews, and quarantining millions of people. There’s indications that Covid-19 could be a bit of a turning point for the political system in China – a moment of such profound economic and social disruption that it might result in widespread demands for political change.
Beyond China, hot-spots include Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy.
Japan is struggling to stay on top of the cases involved with the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and there’s concerns that they’re facing a major domestic outbreak. One major crunch-point is the Olympic Games that will be held in Tokyo. They start on 24 July. Organisers have said that there is no consideration of cancelling the games, but there was supposed to be volunteer training this weekend and that has been postponed.
South Korea has put itself on red alert and is effectively holding its breath to see if its public health measures have been sufficient to contain a major outbreak centres on the city of Daegu. So far, 10 people have died in South Korea.
In Italy, a dozen towns – around 50,000 people – have been placed on lock-down to try and contain an outbreak in the Lombardy and Veneto region. So far, seven people have died in Italy.
Iran appears to have had 14 deaths, but there is some dispute about these numbers, with conflicting reports making the situation confusing.
Global markets are showing signs of weakness and uncertainty as fears grow about the economic impact of a pandemic.
In an odd – but somehow not surprising – development, Russian has officially denied that it is spreading disinformation about Covid-19. The US State Department says that it has confirmed that malign Russian sources are actively spreading conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus. Not helpful.
Our community knows what it’s like to be devastated by a pandemic, and we know a fair bit about the panic and misinformation that goes along with that. When it comes to the Covid-19, we need to be the adults in the room.
Coronavirus is a family of viral strains. Previously, there were six identified viral strains within the Coronavirus family that were known to infect humans – Sars is one of those. This new strain – Covid-19 – increases that number to seven.
The virus initially made the jump from animals to humans, and is now able to spread via human-to-human contact.
This type of virus causes respiratory issues for people, leaving patients with viral pneumonia. At this stage, the mortality rate seems relatively low – it’s particularly impacting people with existing health problems. The World Health Organisation that about 1%-2% of people infected are dying, but that it is too early to accurately predict a mortality rate.
Covid-19 has a reproduction number above 1, so it is self-sustaining and isn’t going anywhere soon. From the data currently available, it appears as if each person infected is passing the virus on to 2-3 other people. It spreads when infected people cough droplets containing the virus into the air, infecting those nearby. But we are also seeing asymptomatic transmission – which means that a person may not be displaying any symptoms but may still be carrying and transmitting the virus.
Public health actions need to be taken in order to bring the virus under control. Vaccines are being developed, but there is not currently any vaccine available. Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission is the main focus – that means stopping the movement of people who may have been exposed to the virus, and quarantining them where possible.
Stay calm. Stay informed. Let’s be the adults in the room.
It’s important to do stuff – to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to try new things. Even when you’d much prefer to be staying home and hibernating on the sofa.
If you need some inspiration, check out our guide to What’s On In London. Make sure you get tickets for Stark Dallas Naked – we spoke to queer cabaret icon Timberlina for a behind-the-scenes look at the drag and drama of the show.
There’s new music from Greyson Chance. Loving this!