As the following of so-called “COVID vigilantes”–that is, social media accounts targeting and identifying queer folk attending large gatherings over the holidays in violation of COVID-19 safety guidelines–continues to grow, news magazine Good Morning America has posed an important question: when does calling out behavior go too far?
Reporter Gio Benitez highlighted the ongoing movement on January 5, in a special report that spotlighted several incidents involving queer people. That includes the now-infamous “COVID Titanic,” a floating circuit party in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that sank, scattering attendees into the sea. The report also featured the Gays Over COVID social media accounts, which highlights reckless partying on the part of gay men.
Gay comic Todd Masterson, one self-proclaimed COVID vigilante, defended calling out bad behavior in the report.
“I think pointing out people doing bad things or people doing things that we consider wrong isn’t shame, it’s just accountability,” Masterson said.
Dr. Anne Charity Hudley, a Harvard-educated expert in culture and linguistics, however, cautioned against a rush to judgment or social vigilantism.
“Who’s place is it to be a judge, be a jury? Who’s place is it to protect people in society? Some of it may be justified, some of is not justified. The risk is in who gets to decide,” Charity Hudley mused.
Since its launch January 1, the Gays Over COVID has already netted more than 116,000 followers.