The Biden administration’s National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, has provoked controversy over his stance that public health officials should support and craft policies that support the sex lives of individuals, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.
This stance has drawn attention in light of the spread of mpox, a virus that primarily affects men who have sex with men. Dr. Daskalakis has urged public health officials to “get the word out in a way that supports people’s joy as opposed to, you know, calling them risky.”
In a recent interview, Daskalakis said, “One person’s idea of risk is another person’s idea of a great festival or Friday night, for that matter.” He suggested that public health officials need to ensure people know how to keep themselves safe, instead of discouraging sexual behaviors.
However, this stance has been criticized by some who argue that the Biden administration is being lax in its approach to tackling the virus. Peter LaBarbera, founder and president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, argues that the administration is indirectly supporting orgies by providing vaccines at such events.
Daskalakis, a proudly “out” gay man, has also received attention for his use of provocative imagery on social media and his involvement with the LGBTQ+ community. He believes that discussing sex as a “risk behavior” is counterproductive and instead advocates for accepting it as a normal part of human experience. Daskalakis sees his candidness about his lifestyle as an asset in establishing trust with the LGBTQ+ community.
Nonetheless, critics argue that more stringent measures are needed to prevent the spread of mpox. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins suggested that the administration should consider shutting down certain apps and venues where risky sexual behavior is prevalent. In response, Daskalakis maintains that it is necessary to address systemic issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia to advance in the fight against the virus.
Daskalakis’s permissive view of homosexual activity was reportedly seen as a positive qualification by the Biden administration, aiming to build credibility with the LGBTQ+ community. However, his approach has faced considerable criticism, particularly from those who believe it doesn’t address the core issues contributing to the spread of the mpox virus.