Drag queens and go-go dancers in New York's Fire Island plan to distribute hand sanitizer, and promote social distancing and masks, in the wake of backlash over viral videos from COVID-defying parties at the popular gay resort destination last weekend.
A group calling itself the Fire Island COVID Destroyers has already raised more than $3,000 that will be used to “employ NYC and Fire Island drag queens and go-go dancers to promote healthy behaviors on Fire Island to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“Starting this Friday, July 10th at 12 noon, THE COVID DESTROYERS will greet people at the Fire Island Pines Harbor with hand sanitizer and masks, infiltrate beach parties to encourage social distancing, and educate and remind island visitors about how to protect themselves and others while still having fun,” the group's fundraising page states.
The group was formed by local club owner Daniel Nardicio, along with Taylor Shubert and the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), in response to “last week's unplanned series of parties,” which “caused great concern in the LGBTQ community.”
“Fire Island was an epicenter of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and we learned then that we must take care of our own,” Nardicio said. “We've decided a positive, helpful approach will do much more than a ‘tag em and drag em approach,' and we can hire out of work nightlife performers while doing it.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office will reportedly supply masks and hand sanitizer to support the group's efforts.
“We are thrilled to be teaming up with the Governor to promote safety measures,” Shubert said. “These queens will show you that being safe is sexy!”
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie added: “GMHC was founded in the early '80s to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic with an initial focus on preventing and reducing the risk of infection. This same approach can be applied to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than shaming people, education and compassion are needed to promote behaviors that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep people healthy and safe.”
Earlier this week, the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association posted new rules — and urged people to report large gatherings to 911 — in response to last weekend's parties. Meanwhile, one partier apologized for a disgusting social media post in which he said he had COVID-19 and hoped others contracted the virus.