- Instagram page GaysOverCovid became known in 2020 for calling out people for not wearing masks.
- The page recently called for an end to mask mandates in Los Angeles, drawing backlash.
- Someone who was previously exposed by the page told Insider they “created a vicious cycle of hate.”
The Instagram account GaysOverCovid is drawing backlash after it called for an end to mask mandates despite calling people out for not wearing masks during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The account, which has more than 110,000 followers, became known in the summer of 2020 for posting pictures and videos of men in large groups not wearing masks. The page would often tag these people, ask commenters to tag them, or include identifying information such as their Instagram handle and location.
The account largely stopped posting after 2020, but has recently called for an end to the mask mandate in Los Angeles County and the firing of Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health.
“THE SURGE IS OVER,” the Instagram account wrote in an Instagram story on Tuesday. “KEEPING MANDATES WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS DROPPING THEM DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. THE ‘SCIENCE’ DOESN’T BACK UP THE MANDATE.”
The page appeared to receive backlash for now calling for an end to mask mandates, including from reporter Taylor Lorenz on Twitter.
“THIS ACCOUNT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING,” GaysOverCovid
wrote in a follow-up story in response to someone criticizing the page’s seeming change of heart. “IT’S STILL ABOUT DOING THE RIGHT THING.”
Los Angeles County reported 3,312 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and its seven-day average positivity rate is 3.82%, the lowest since December.
The county eased its outdoor mask rules on Wednesday, allowing people to remove their facial coverings while outside K-12 schools and in outside spaces at big event areas, among other places, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Ryan Wharton, whom the account called out in a 2020 Instagram post, told Insider that the page “created a vicious cycle of hate and shouldn’t be surprised” that “it came back to bite them.”
“They should probably just be thankful they are still anonymous and not receiving the death threats and attempts made to cause them to lose their jobs like we endured,” Wharton added.
The GaysOverCovid Instagram account didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment. On Friday, the page’s description still read, “Wear a mask. Stay home. Save lives.”