GETTING CURIOUS | When Viruses Spread, Who’s Most Vulnerable? with Dr. Steven W. Thrasher


A note from Jonathan and team Getting Curious: we recorded this episode in May, the same day the first case of monkeypox was documented in the US. Today there are nearly 6000 confirmed cases—and counting—across the country. If you’re a member of the queer community or an ally, we implore you to make the spread of monkeypox a personal problem—and to put pressure on elected leaders to take this outbreak seriously. Dr. Thrasher’s work is central to understanding how and why this virus is spreading, so we’ll be posting updated commentary from him, and other resources, to our @CuriouswithJVN social media pages in the coming days.

Viral spread, this week’s guest reminds us, “happens through very normative life activities: sex, breathing, handshaking, hugging, just being. The things that we have to do to stay alive.” So what happens when we encounter viruses through these activities? The answer often depends on who “we” are. Listen in as Dr. Steven W. Thrasher and Jonathan explore how social inequalities in the US and beyond shape how viruses spread—and who is most vulnerable when they do.

CW: This episode discusses police violence, bodily harm, and hateful rhetoric.

Steven W. Thrasher, PhD holds the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg chair at Northwestern University’s Medill School, the first journalism professorship in the world created to focus on LGBTQ research. A columnist for Scientific American, his writing has been widely published by The New York Times, Nation, The Atlantic, Journal of American History, Esquire and New York Magazine. In 2019, Out Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential and impactful people of the year, and the Ford Foundation awarded him a grant for Creativity and Free Expression. The Viral Underclass is his first book.

You can follow Steven on Twitter @thrasherxy. You can follow Celadon Books on Twitter @CeladonBooks for updates on The Viral Underclass and other books. 

Join the conversation, and find out what former guests are up to, by following us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN. 

Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.

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