The Coronavirus Thrives on Hate

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05/29/2020

On May 1, just before social distancing rules were officially relaxed, a man went out to a few gay clubs in Seoul. He was later confirmed to have the novel coronavirus, promptly outed by Christian-backed media, and vilified nationwide as another careless, contaminated gay. By dint of being at the same club as Patient 66 (as the man was dubbed), I was sucked into a vortex of government surveillance. I was there filming a documentary about queer South Korean nightlife. Before I could enter the club, I had to put on a mask, have my temperature checked, sanitize my hands, and sign in with my name and phone number. Officials later added my information to a list of more than 5,000 clubgoers who had visited the area. That weekend, people in line smiled more than usual, and a few embraced the bouncer after receiving their wristbands, still in disbelief that they could go dancing again. It had been about two months since the club last opened, and the spring night felt like a hard-earned moment of normalcy for a country lauded globally for its coronavirus response.

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