An Instagram account dedicated to calling out unsafe coronavirus pandemic behavior in the gay community is facing threats of doxxing after exposing a number of attendees at a New Years Eve circuit party in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Through internet sleuthing, including examining Venmo payments, the anonymous creator or creators behind GaysOverCovid publicly identified NYE partygoers. The account briefly disappeared on the evening of Sunday, January 3 after someone offered $500 on Facebook for the identity of whoever was behind it. 

GaysOverCovid began posting in summer 2020 as unsafe Fourth of July parties bubbled up on Instagram. The account shares photos, tags, and sometimes employment information of gay Instagram creators who appear to be violating social distancing guidelines, including gathering in large groups and not wearing masks. 

The disappearance of the account, which returned on Monday, prompted a wider conversation about pandemic safety and shame, especially as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community and “insta-gays.” This included a viral thread by Zack Ford, press secretary for Alliance For Justice and former LGBTQ editor for ThinkProgress.

“My goal was really to make sense of it, and what resonated with a lot of people was the reality that we’ve given this group [of influencers] their power, and they abused it in a way that could hurt any of us,” Ford tells us over Twitter DM. “They show off their bodies and we fawn over them; that’s always been the dynamic. Aesthetic wields incredible power over gay men. But the community as a whole controls that power, and we don’t have to dispense it like we do. And when these circuit queens rely on that power, there is a real mechanism to hold them accountable for harmful choices and demand better of them.”

Not everyone believes that shaming is a useful tactic. Instagram accounts like GaysOverGaysOverCovid popped up to criticize GaysOverCovid. Then, a Facebook user promised the $500 reward, writing “let it be known we are coming for them.”

Others in the online LGBTQ community offered their support to GaysOverCovid, particularly when the account was briefly offline (after, presumably, being reported). The creator behind popular account The LA Basics quickly made a GaysOverCovid backup account during the interim to keep followers updated. 

“Both of our pages try to fight to create awareness to the things that need attention in the gay communty,” The LA Basics explains over Instagram DM.

But as Ford tells us, this isn’t just about one controversial party, but a wider potential reckoning.

“This is only a story about mostly white cis gay men, but that’s a group that also has clout over the entire LGBTQ community,” he says. “I hope this is an opportunity to rethink why we don’t hold more lesbian women, bi people, trans people, and nonbinary people as role models in this community. These men are blowing hundreds of dollars on unsafe parties while trans people are still fighting for jobs and homes and basic safety.”