A love letter...to Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau.

Updated: Aug 2

I am going to be reading something that you can read along with if you go to the blog section of the website igotmpox.com and click the most recent entry.


I’d like to start with a thanks and acknowledgement of the Indigenous nations on whose lands we’re meeting right now: the Mississauguas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples.


I want to be clear that I don’t speak for everyone who has, or will get, monkeypox, or really anyone more than myself for that matter. But I do know a lot of people’s stories.


I’ve somehow found myself here today because on June 17th, in downtown Toronto, i realized that I had monkeypox - and was one of the first 50-100 people to boot! That experience let me to write a resource that eventually turned into a website, igotmpox.com. It’s somewhere between a love letter to two-spirit folks, and gay, bi, and queer guys, but presented as a how-to guide with a lot of sass, camp, and real talk, to help folks make decisions, encourage them to be compassionate toward themselves, and give ideas as to how to care for themselves.


I’ve been hearing from a few people every day who somehow find their way to my site, who email me and share their important, often tumultuous stories of the ride that is monkeypox. They are a lot of lovely darlings.


I want to tell you, very clearly, that in Toronto, right now, there are dozens of people going through the experience I’m talking about. Monkeypox symptoms can range drastically from very mild to pretty severe, but in general I don’t think it’s productive to catastrophize the whole mpox tragesty. We will get through this, and we’ll get through it a lot easier if our political leaders start stepping up.


Many, and probably most of those people who have mpox, are doing all of this very much alone. It’s not fun.


Many are scared and unsure about the sometimes extreme, unexpected things their bodies are going through. Asking, “is this symptom serious enough to go to the emergency room?”, because they know it probably is serious enough, but then doing the calculus of how completely dire it will have to get to justify the 8 hour hospital wait. Sort of like a scene that was cut from a 90’s pandemic movie. But stretched over 8 hours.


Those of us who *have* jobs are trying to decide - do I take a holiday? tell work I got COVID? Can I push it long enough that I can get better enough to just work through it? Is this how I’m going to have to use my vacation time this year?


And then there are our artists, our sex workers, wage labourers, and all our neighbors without jobs or who have precarious employment. Who, in addition to everything I've already mentioned, have to figure out how they will survive 4, 5, 6 weeks in isolation, often with little energy to cook, even if there is food to be cooked.


This is what many people *in our city* are living through. Right now. No hyperbole to make some political point - just what's happening.


If you want us to isolate for 4, 5, 6 weeks, we need food support. We need quality medical supplies. We need straightforward access to competent healthcare providers who know what they're doing and don’t act like the pearl clutchers of the 80’s and 90’s, long live..or…RIP…. Princess Di.


But right now, to many of us, it not only feels like we’re on our own….we are on our own.


So… we haven’t actually met yet, Doug and Justin, but I want to say I hope you SURPRISE US.


I hope you find it in yourselves, and in your interests, to give us reasons to feel like this isn't going to be yet another story of neglect and erasure.


Oh yes, and, also, if paid time off is the best anyone’s going to get, it’s better than the current situation, which is… nothing. Sounds like a no-brainer decision to me.


In closing I would like to ask Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, and Prime Minister Trudeau, will you show up for the people who have monkeypox, and the people who will get monkeypox, in our city, province, and country, and show the rest of ‘em that Toronto, Ontario, and Canada, know how to get it done? We’re looking to you.


Len Tooley


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I did an interview with - yep, you guessed it - CBC Radio Ottawa Morning today. I think it was my best one yet! https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-100-ottawa-morning/clip/15927886-i-got-monkeypox