Real Talk. News. Views. Opinions.
Wherever you are in the world, there’s a lot going on – there’s a lot to keep up with.
One way to try and avoid feeling overwhelmed by everything going on is to remember that the personal is political. What you’re experiencing matters. What you’re feeling matters. Your perspective and your opinion matters.
Here’s what’s happening in my world.
I’m not a doctor. I’ve got the white coat for role-plays, obviously, but there’s a lot of people who are a lot more qualified than I am who you should be listening to when it comes to Covid-19. Make sure you’re getting your updates and insights from experts who are informed and know what they’re talking about.
One of the skills that we all need to develop in this new-normal is critical analysis. We always need to be questioning – Does this person know what they’re talking about? How objective are they? What’s the context of this information? Does this information apply to me?
It’s undeniably really good news for everyone that significant progress is being made on vaccines against Covid-19.
Here in the UK, regulatory approval has been given for the first vaccine and some health workers will be vaccinated in the coming weeks – that feels like a big step forward.
Obviously, the roll-out of the vaccine solutions that are emerging won’t happen overnight – for most of us, it’s likely to be around Easter before widespread coverage is achieved. But it does give us all confidence that we are finding a way through this and that there is a way to reduce the harm that Covid-19 causes.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual – masks on and keep your distance.
Covid-19 in the UK
Good news about vaccines aside, here in the UK we’re now out of lockdown but into regional restrictions. These restrictions are likely to be with us until February, and probably beyond that. It’s all a bit miserable but you do what you’ve got to do – let’s keep people safe.
In a world where misinformation is the norm, we’ve all got to become data experts to keep on top of the facts of the pandemic.
The best data source that we seem to have is the government’s Covid-19 page on its website. It’s not the easiest thing to navigate, and there’s lots of questions about the timeliness and accuracy of the data, but it’s probably the best thing we’ve got.
One of the key failings of this government has been an inability to establish an effective test trace and track system. Other countries have done it, but not the UK. The capabilities around testing appear to be improving, but we’re still relying on lag indicators not lead indicators to shape our response.
Looking at the 7-day average of infections, we hit a low of 546 new cases per day on 5Jul. We’re in the middle of a second wave, but it’s looking like we’re now past the peak – the data currently suggests that a 7-day average of 24.6K infections on 10Nov was the height of the second wave. Our 7-day average is now down to around 14K new infections each day. If you just look at the test results, it seems pretty clear that this lockdown has played an important role in reducing infection rates, but there’s lots of variables at play in those numbers so it’s not a complete picture.
Hospital Admission rates is probably a more important indicator at this stage. In the UK, we currently have over 15K people in hospital (because of Covid-19) and over 1.3K people on ventilators. If we drill down to London, we currently have about 145 people being admitted each day with Covid-19. Hospital Admissions is really the key crunch-point at the moment in terms of the UK response to Covid-19. If infection rates are now past their peak, it looks like health services should be able to cope but there’s obviously different pressure points at a regional level.
In terms of deaths, the data on this got pretty messy. After several months, the government realised that different parts of the health infrastructure were counting Covid-19 related deaths in different ways. They’re now officially counting deaths as Covid-19 related if they occur within 28 days of a positive test, but even that seems to come with quite a few caveats. If we take the UK-level data at face-value, at the peak of the pandemic we had over 1,000 people dying per day because of Covid-19. By June, that was down to 200 people per day and we saw it falling from then. From 11 August until 8 September, the 7-day average was under 10 people dying each day. We’re currently averaging around 400 deaths per day. We can drill those numbers down to London, where our 7-day average has been less than 1 person dying each day (under the revised Covid-19 definition) from mid-July until early September. However, we’re now back up to around 25 people dying each day in London because of Covid-19.
We’ve all got a difficult few months ahead, but it’s at least feeling like we’re moving into the next phase of this pandemic.
Covid-19 in Australia
I’m keeping a close eye on Australia as that’s where most of my immediate family live.
After responding well to the initial onset of the pandemic, Australia had an outbreak of community transmission in the state of Victoria but they now seem to have that under control.
Australia seems set to keep its external borders closed until they can use a vaccine and rapid testing program to reframe their response. They’re talking about requiring vaccine passports – which sounds like a sensible way forward. Their isolationist approach has clearly saved a lot of lives.
Totally on-brand for 2020, the US election has been a bit of a shit-show.
Undoubtedly, there’s a palpable sense of relief that Joe Biden has been elected as the next US President. However, it seems pretty clear that the election results have confirmed that Trumpism isn’t some intriguing aberration in our timeline’s history. Right-wing populism is a powerful force in the US – a hydra that only seems to be gaining in strength. Joe Biden probably isn’t the Heracles of our story.
We’re still living in interesting times.
Ms Rona versus The Queers
There’s no denying, 2020 has been absolute shit-show. Sure, there’s only a few months to go, but I’m trying to do my best to salvage whatever fragments of joy I can get my hands on.
It turns out that global pandemics are no walk in the park. I’m not – in any way – making light of the devastation caused by Covid-19. People have died. Jobs have been lost. We’re at the end of the beginning and there’s plenty more pain to come.
One of the super-powers that us queers have is that we’re a pretty resilient bunch. We adapt, we innovate, we survive. We’ve been reading up on viral loads long before it was cool.
Have we seen any examples of queer excellence shining while Ms Rona has been hogging the limelight? Sure we have – there’s been some ups and down, some winners and losers, some selfish tops and some messy bottoms. Let’s get into it.
- Lil Nas X – the new single is Holiday. “I might bottom on the low, but I top shit.” More of this please.
- Harry Styles – just casually having some fun with fashion on the cover of Vogue. There’s a lot to admire about this man.
- Little Mix – You want some choreo? These women are serving.
- Drag Race – After a successful season in Canada, Drag Race Holland knocked it out of the park.
- Schitt’s Creek – 9 Emmy wins seems a fitting tribute to a show that’s going out on a high. Queer comedy excellence.
- Steps – Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you see it, until you hear it, until you feel it. What The Future Holds – a comeback single from Steps – is a total banger and somehow gives me everything I need right now. The throwback to happier times, the despair of getting older, the desperation of trying to hold on to things that mean something, the basic choreo designed to light up the dance-floor of bachelorette parties across northern England. It’s inspired.
- Nicola Adams – the Olympic champion boxer joins the cast of Strictly Come Dancing in the UK and is part of the first same-sex couple of the show, which is a big deal in the context of UK television.
- Masturbation. Is there such a thing as too much? I’m trying to go for quality, not quantity.
- Gays that can sew their own masks. The creative gays are always essential in a crisis.
- Socialism. Sometimes, capitalist free-markets fall apart. Furlough has got to be in the running for word-of-the year.
- Fan-subscription porn – we’ve all started a channel, now we just need some subscribers.
- Netflix. There seems to be a lot on there, but not necessarily anything you want to watch. Regardless, they’re definitely one of the winners in this pandemic.
- Glory holes – officially recommended by health experts as a safer way to have sex.
- Troye Sivan – the new music is great. We didn’t think it was possible, but we love him more than ever.
- Men who can grow a moustache.
- Donald Trump – bizarrely, more people voted for him in 2020 than did in 2016, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that his criminally negligent handling of Covid-19 has played a part in his downfall.
- Hungary – continuing to use LGBTQ as a scapegoat and a distraction.
- US Supreme Court – the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not only sad because the life of a great woman has ended, but it enabled the Republicans to confirm a replacement who seems ultra-conservative. Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be remembered for a lot of tremendous achievements and qualities – not least of which was her hugely important support and advocacy for LGBTQ equality.
- Our social lives – unsurprisingly, this new-normal has left a lot of us feeling isolated and lonely. Loneliness is something we’re all grappling with.
- Ellen DeGeneres – her motto is #BeKind but turns out that working on her show isn’t much fun.
- Chi Chi DeVayne – sad to hear of the death of Chi Chi DeVayne, the drag alter-ego of Zavion Davenport. Chi Chi – an alum of RPDR – was only 34 and has died of scleroderma which is a rare auto-immune condition.
- The rainbow flag – we don’t have a monopoly on the rainbow, but co-opting the rainbow flag to symbolise your support for the NHS erases us and our history.
- Climate Change – it’s not going well.
- Racist porn-stars. No longer tolerated by an industry keen to take out its trash.
- Poland. A narrow election to the incumbent president sees anti-LGBTQ rhetoric continue to rise.
- Bathhouses/Saunas – almost impossible for them to reopen while social distancing restrictions in place. Huge loss for our community.
- All the gays that work in hospitality, tourism, theatre, and the creative industries – that’s pretty much all of the gays.
- JK Rowling. Stop. Attacking. Trans. People. A shameless exercise in generating publicity for a new book.
- Systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter
A queer guy’s survival guide to the future
Let’s face it, no one knows what happens from here. It feels like we’re at the end of the beginning but this is likely to be a Tolkeinesque saga and no one wants to be Samwise Gamgee. Here’s some of the resources that feel like they might come in handy as we attempt to navigate the future.
- Solar charger. I’m not predicting that this is the end-of-days, but life comes at you fast. A solar charger seems like a sensible back-up plan.
- Lube. Invest in some quality – whether it’s for masturbating or hook-ups. I like the feel of Boy Butter, but you probably need to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.
- Anxiety relief. If you’ve got a heartbeat, it’s pretty likely that your anxiety is going to be off the charts. I’m not convinced that a meditation app is the answer but I’m willing to give it a go.
- Ready for anything. A credit card sized Swiss army knife? That just sounds fairly essential for whatever we’re facing into.
- Short shorts. Every situation is improved by a guy with thick thighs rocking a sexed-up pair of short shorts. Trust me on this.
No Hard Feelings is a film written and directed by Faraz Shariat.
The film gives us the story of Parvis – the son of exiled Iranians who have built a new life for themselves in Germany.
Parvis is gay, and navigating a world of clubs and hook-ups and casual racism.
Following a minor run-in with the law, Parvis is sentenced to community service at a refugee shelter. Here he meets brother and sister Amon and Banafhse – they’re attempting to secure asylum in Germany.
While the growing attraction between Parvis and Amon is complicated enough, the challenge of being an outsider in a new country adds a new level of complexity.
Worth adding to your watch-list.