The Dangers of the Gay Stigma against Mpox

The Dangers of the Gay Stigma against Mpox

Mpox (formally known as Monkeypox)  isn’t just some gay joke and shouldn’t be joked about. Mpox is a serious virus that we need to take seriously. It’s incredibly harmful to not only the LGBTQ+ community, but it will always hurt you and your family. So it’s not funny to hurt everyone, and to really understand why please read the rest of this paper. I hope that at the end you begin to reevaluate jokes you or your friends make and hopefully think twice before sending a meme. Even if you don’t make these jokes, learning more about mpox is important to keep you and your family safe. 

The newest virus on the global circuit is mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) and just like any other virus, projecting the truth about how to protect yourself and others is the most important thing. However, a stigma arose. Many believe that mpox only affects gay and bisexual men and is only transferred through gay sex. Even if many say they are just joking, jokes can be harmful not only to the groups it directly targets; but also to the distribution of information to keep everyone safe. 

First, let’s get some context about how mpox started. Mpox stayed contained in Africa until 2003 when the first case of mpox outbreak was reported outside of Africa. The outbreak started in the United States of America and was caused by exposure to pet prairie dogs that had been infected with the virus (“mpox.” World Health Organization). However, mpox was still a relatively unknown disease until May of 2022 when a massive outbreak in North America, Europe, Australia, and Israel began. This current outbreak is probably how you first heard about mpox was traced back to two raves (raves is a fancy word for a party). The raves, which were predominantly attended by gay and bisexual men, led to the rumor that mpox is a “gay disease” (Cahill, Sean). Since the resurgence of mpox began at raves, many people have assumed that only gay or bisexual men need to be worried about mpox. Opinions that stigmatize mpox leads to misinformation and misrepresentation of the true severity of the mpox outbreak, which will greatly affect public health and all attempts to control the spread of mpox. If we do not contain this pandemic, then it will be harder to eradicate or dampen the effect of mpox. 

It is incredibly important to fight this stereotype before mpox becomes a pandemic like COVID-19 (which we definitely don’t want to go through again). Especially since it can continue to spread through events such as raves and Pride events which many people, even you, could travel to. If mpox is at one of these events, then the virus can travel back with the attendees and spread even farther (Thrasher). This will make it harder to contain and get even more people sick. Don’t stress out though, there is some good news, gay and bisexual men are taking mpox seriously and being critical of the government’s response to the mpox threat. Two-thirds of gay and bisexual men say they will get the mpox vaccine as well (Pasquini and Funk). Getting vaccinated to prevent the spread of mpox is the most important thing that can be done to contain the epidemic. Stopping the stigma that mpox only affects gay men will help encourage people, hopefully you too, of all demographics to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

The stigma that mpox is only a ‘gay disease’ mostly began on the internet with jokes about how someone could only get mpox through gay sex. Many memes were created of men kissing monkeys with some phrases about getting mpox. You’ve probably seen these jokes or memes, maybe even made a few yourself. Don’t worry though, it will be okay, just stop circulating these jokes. While many sites and people claim that it is supposed to be out of good fun and as a way to comfort others through humor, it may bring a laugh. However, just like many other stigmas, just because it is said to be out of good spirits it does not mean that the harm it does is not happening. The site you may have heard of is HumorNama posted 20 memes about mpox to “lighten the mood”. Two of these memes stand out in particular because of their direct connection to the stigma. HumorNama does post some helpful information about the spread of mpox and does directly state that anyone can get the virus, however, only the memes are going to be spread around the internet where groups such as children can see them. A disclaimer is not enough to clarify the joke being made. By no means, is the use of humor as a comfort being debated, but rather the types of jokes being made about mpox since they are hurting a group of people in an attempt at humor. 

Mpox, like all viruses, has the power to become the next global pandemic, because of this, it is important to not spread harmful information that will segregate and gatekeep information to one community. Labeling mpox as a ‘gay disease’ will only hurt global health and harm the LGBTQ+ community. With the spread of correct information and vaccinations being readily available, mpox will not lead to another pandemic. Do not be scared however, we can all do our part to try and end this stigma. Just don’t circulate memes about mpox or continue to make jokes about it. When a friend makes a joke like that, just don’t laugh or you can try to educated them. 


Work Cited 

Cahill, Sean. “Monkeypox and Gay and Bisexual Men.” The Fenway Institute. May 2022, Pg. 1-3. 

“Monkeypox.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,

Pasquini, Giancarlo, and Cary Funk. “Gay or Bisexual Men Express Concern about Monkeypox, Are Critical of Government’s Response.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 22 Sept. 2022,

Thrasher, Steven W. “Blaming Gay Men for Monkeypox Will Harm Everyone.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 9 June 2022,