Canceled due to Monkeypox: How LGBTQ+ events in Michigan are responding to the outbreak

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Monkeypox cases still on the rise southeast michigan, it might be time to reassess your approach to anything that involves skin-to-skin contact. Although the virus is generally not fatal, judging by first hand testimonialsit’s certainly unpleasant (and unsightly) — often it’s downright painful.

Some Michigan establishments and venues frequented by men who have sex with men (MSM) are taking steps to help slow the spread of monkeypox, and chances are more will follow as the CDC develops its directives on prevention and safety.

Local physician Dr. Paul Benson, founder of Be Well Medical Center in Berkley, is promoting a cautious response to social events during the outbreak. “Individuals can safely attend large gatherings, but need to be smart about it,” he told Pride Source. “The risk of contracting monkeypox through the air is not that great – however, if you are in front of someone it would increase your chances.”

Dr Benson said touching should be avoided in crowds, especially in very close quarters, such as mosh pits.

Some Michigan locations are taking a proactive and cautious approach, while others are monitoring the situation but have not changed their upcoming schedules.

Motorball has pushed back Detroit Dance Party events, aimed at the LGBTQ+ community, from September 15-18 to June 2-4, 2023, to coincide with Ferndale Pride. Recently, an announcement was posted on the Motorball website, with organizers writing: “Until more health promotion and vaccination work can be done, and until more research into transmissibility is available, we believe the prudent course of action is to postpone the annual Motorball event. out of an abundance of caution.

Local logout group Motor City Jacks, which bills itself as “Detroit’s premier male masturbation club,” has suspended its events in accordance with CDC guidelines. “We didn’t want to potentially contribute to the spread,” an unnamed organizer told Pride Source via email. “We hope that by next month enough of our members will have been vaccinated and the virus will plateau locally.” A message sent to members read: “We believe it is in our interest to limit your potential exposure, particularly because the communities of which we are a part appear to be disproportionately affected at this time.

Pride Source contacted Diplomat Health Club, Grand Rapids Gay Men’s Sauna and Bathhouse. The site is currently working with the Kent County Health Department.

The Schvitz, a historic health club and bathhouse in Detroit; Body Zone, a gay bathhouse and sauna in Highland Park, and Club Tabu, an alternative men’s lounge in Lansing and Alpena, did not respond to inquiries from Pride Source by press time.

Meanwhile, the CDC sets specific guidelines for monkeypox prevention, including guidance on social gatherings and specific sexual activities.

When deciding whether to attend raves, parties, clubs and festivals, the agency recommends seeking information from reliable sources such as the local health department. “Consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event,” the website reads. “If you feel sick or have a rash, do not attend any gatherings and seek medical attention.”

Additional CDC guidelines for social activities include:

  • Festivals, events and concerts where attendees are fully clothed and unlikely to share skin-to-skin contact are safer. However, participants should be aware of activities (such as kissing) that could spread monkeypox.
  • A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, poses certain risks. Avoid any rashes you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.
  • Enclosed spaces, such as back rooms, saunas, sex clubs, or private and public sex parties where intimate and often anonymous sexual contact with multiple partners occurs, may have a higher likelihood of spreading monkeypox .

Dr Benson doesn’t think there’s a need to cancel events altogether, but he said those who feel sick or have unexplained rashes should stay home. “From my observations, among the cases I’ve seen in my office, transmission has occurred after the event, through sexual activity,” he said.

Dr. Benson also recommends that patients use condoms for eight weeks after the monkeypox lesions on those infected have resolved. Although this guideline does not appear in official CDC recommendations, it said it has observed cases of rectal monkeypox likely transmitted by someone who has recently recovered from the virus. “Monkeypox virus has been observed in semen for up to two months after the infection has cleared,” he explained. “There is some debate that this is a dead virus and may not be able to transmit – I disagree.”

Dr. Benson also points out that monkeypox is not a “gay disease”. As he repeated, “Anyone can get monkeypox.”

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