Marcus Bailey (he/him)
Baltimore Resident, District 40
Something to Shout About: Community Voices
Baltimore is a majority Black and Brown working-class city. The Maryland Department of Health’s response, or rather lack of one, to the MonkeyPox epidemic perpetuates further harm against the Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ communities in this state. According to the CDC, this virus has disproportionately affected us more than others, and our community’s consistent lack of reliable healthcare leaves many at a loss of what to do if we contract the virus. Most of us work in retail, service, or manual labor industries, and MonkeyPox will put us out of work, will steal our paychecks, and will get us kicked out of our homes. It will have a huge impact on the already deeply disenfranchised and downtrodden members of our local LGBTQIA+ community.
The response to this infectious disease is exactly the one our government had towards COVID, one that left millions dead with thousands of others traumatized from their experiences recovering from the disease. For Queer communities specifically, we are watching the government repeat mistakes that allowed the HIV epidemic to claim thousands of LGBTQIA+ lives. The CDC and Maryland Department of Health’s limited inclusion criteria for vaccinations frame MonkeyPox as primarily an STI, dooming it to not receive the same open conversation, the same energy, or the same response we had to COVID. MonkeyPox as we know it is an infectious disease that is spread via skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets, or even touching surfaces that an infected person has touched. Cases are popping up all across the country and are rising locally. We CAN NOT wait until a person has been exposed or is already infected to act. We need to set up a public vaccination program to help keep Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ community safe. We need allies in power to raise awareness of the racial and socioeconomic ramifications of this infection. Our state is currently at 48 reported cases and efforts from the local government to stop this spread are minimal and ineffective. We need action NOW, not when it’s too late!
PLEASE help us navigate this difficult time and get more vaccines out to the general public. As of today, the Health Department is only giving vaccines to people that have been potentially exposed or have the disease. Mass vaccinations are needed if we want to keep our community safe. We have seen this before, we have seen the government offer little support or care as an illness affecting the LGBTQIA+ community runs rampant. We cannot let that happen again.
Want to help fight this epidemic? Start a conversation with your healthcare provider regarding the vaccine. If you don’t have one, contact Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader and County Executive Steven Schuh at the Maryland Department of Health and ask them for a widespread vaccination rollout. Contact your local state representative about your concerns and tell them fighting for vaccinations is defending their community. Remind those meant to serve that their job is to assist everyone, and that vaccinations are essential to protect our community from this disease.
Marcus Bailey (he/him)
A Concerned Gay Black Man & Community Advocate
@callmebailey (Instagram Handle)
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