Tony Green, a self-described gay conservative who “often juggles persecution for my sexuality while being true to my values,” spent months dismissing the novel coronavirus as a “scamdemic” — until the virus almost took his life.
“I admit I voted for Donald Trump in 2016,” wrote Green in an op-ed for the DallasVoice. “I admit traveling deep into the conspiracy trap over COVID-19. All the defiant behavior of Trump’s more radical and rowdy cult followers, I participated in it. I was a hard-ass that stood up for my ‘God-given rights.’”
He confessed to going down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
“I believed the virus to be a hoax. I believed the mainstream media and the Democrats were using it to create panic, crash the economy and destroy Trump’s chances at re-election,” he said. “And so, believing the pandemic to be a hoax, my partner and I hosted family members on Saturday, June 13. On Sunday, June 14, I woke up sick.”
“Imagine gasping for air with every step you take,” Green described his fight against the virus. “Imagine rubbing Icy Hot all over your head to soothe a painful headache. Imagine your eyes in a bowl of water while you’re still seeing through them. Imagine collapsing and waking up in the ER only to find out COVID-19 attacked your central nervous system, and the doctor had just saved you from a stroke.”
That would be bad enough if it ended there, but it didn’t. It got much, much worse.
It wasn’t just Green, his partner and his parents all came down with the virus. His in-laws went to see their first grandchild, taking his father-in-law’s mother. His father-in-law was ill by that evening. His mother-in-law and her daughter were next.
“Two days later, my father-in-law’s mother got sick. The new mommy and daddy got sick, too. We all tested positive for COVID-19. Only the newborn was spared,” Green said. “My father-in-law and I both went to the hospital on June 24. The virus had attacked my central nervous system, and the staff stopped me from having a stroke.”
His father-in-law’s mother went to the hospital a day later, succumbing to the virus and pneumonia on July 1. The family told Green’s father-in-law about losing his mother as she lay in a hospital bed alone, even though he was in the room next door.
“On the day of her funeral, which was July 14, five more of our family members tested positive for the virus,” said Green. “That evening, my father-in-law was put on a ventilator.”
“You cannot imagine the guilt I feel,” Green went on, noting that his conspiracy theories and his gathering brought about so much suffering. “You cannot imagine my guilt at having been a denier, carelessly shuffling through this pandemic, making fun of those wearing masks and social distancing. You cannot imagine my guilt at knowing that my actions convinced both our families it was safe when it wasn’t.”
The virus is real, he said. “I am aware of how my bias could discredit me with some, but trust me, you do not want this virus. And you do not want your loved ones suffering and dying from this because you are taking a ‘political stand’ or protecting the economy over their lives.”
He closed with this warning: “America, this is not going to go away without sacrifice. Either way, we are going to pay a price. Governments are faced with making difficult decisions, and they cannot appease and satisfy everyone. But to do nothing is to be foolish. To ignore or question the validity of this virus, its contagiousness or the consequences of selfish attitudes is — at this stage — completely stupid. I am calling myself out first, but now this is personal, and I fell on my sword. And I promise you, if we continue being more worried about the disruption to our lives than we are about stopping this virus, not one American will be spared.”