“So, Are You Vaccinated Yet?”

On a very hot summer day recently, my partner Chris and I were lazily lounging and enjoying the peace and quiet in the outdoor pool at the YMCA we are a member of when suddenly, a woman approached us in the water and began loudly expressing her extreme displeasure of all unvaccinated people in our country. She had no idea I was unvaccinated nor knew of any of my health issues that have led to why I haven’t gotten one yet. I cringed as she continued to talk at a level where most around the pool could hear. When she said that all unvaccinated people need to be rounded up and sent somewhere outside our country where they can all die, I had enough. I was close to saying something that I knew I’d probably regret, which is why I quickly exited the pool. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s just best to keep my voice silent and pray for the person, because some people are just looking for an argument and there’s nothing that can be said to them where they might find greater understanding, love, and connection, especially when one of the first questions out of their mouth is, “So, are you vaccinated yet?”

The world lately seems to be filled with many people like this. How many times have I overheard people from both sides of this issue expressing their strong opinions for anyone to hear? Too many. Frankly, it’s got me so frustrated, because if I wasn’t going through all the health issues I have been for as long as I have, I’d already have gotten a vaccination, just like I did in my earlier years of life. Regardless, I’m so weary of these vaccination arguments and discussions, with people sending me article after article surrounding the science on this virus, the constant fighting and bickering on this subject, and the near-constant drama of pro-vaxxers versus anti-vaxxers. Last year was all about pro-Biden versus pro-Trump, of which I couldn’t escape no matter where I was. Now it’s all about this virus and I keep on seeing the fallout from it with friends walking away from each other, pointing fingers, and placing the blame on why they think this virus is still around.

I experienced some of this with a dear friend just recently. At the end of this month, I’m heading to the Washington, D.C. area to reconnect with several friends I haven’t seen in over 10 years. When one of them I spoke to over the phone asked me before our call ended, “So, are you vaccinated yet?”, I wanted to lie, but I’m not a liar. Yet, I knew where this was going to go at that point, but I remained honest and said I hadn’t been yet and explained why. It didn’t matter though. Even though I was willing to wear a mask, remain at a healthy distance, and even get a COVID test just to help them feel safe, they didn’t want to see me at all, even after 26 years of being the best of friends and even after not having seen me for well over a decade. I accepted their decision, but it hurt…A LOT.

The rejection from someone who’s been a part of my life for so long, all because of my unvaccinated status, made me wonder if that’s what happened back in the early 80’s with friends when HIV began spreading. Initially, it was called “GRID” or “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency” and anyone who was gay was chastised and blamed for the virus. Gay people became lepers in society, the total shame of the world. The news and the public in general pointed the finger solely at homosexuals and many stayed far away from them because of it, that is until science proved it was a sexually transmitted virus with both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Presently, science and the news continue to report the only reason why COVID is still a problem is due to all the unvaccinated people. Whether that’s 100% true or not doesn’t matter in my book, because like HIV, or when it was first known as GRID, each of those people who were gay were worthy and deserving of love then, just like all unvaccinated people are now.

Nevertheless, I’m afraid now to be in any type of public social setting, because it seems like that question of, “So, are you vaccinated yet?” continues to arise where the feeling I get each time it does is one of total repulsion from others when I answer it truthfully. It often feels like I’m getting the entire blame of the virus at that moment. I can’t imagine Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammad acting this way, given they were each about expressing unconditional love and acceptance of all. That’s why I am trying to emulate those qualities in my life as best as I can, regardless of whether someone has chosen to vaccinate or not, and regardless of any person’s stance on anything in life really, even if it’s something I stand completely differently on.

Ultimately, I just wish I wasn’t caught in the middle of this vaccination issue, but sadly, I am. But maybe that’s a good thing, for if it’s taught me one thing, it’s to love at a much Higher Level, one where it doesn’t matter whether someone has vaccinated or not, where instead what’s more important is loving someone no matter what, even the woman at the YMCA pool who wishes to banish people like me to another country where I can be left to die.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson