I went to an open mic night forum on chem sex called ‘Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs’. It was truly fascinating, hearing so many people’s experiences with drug use and the way it’s affected their lives.
I spoke, nervously stumbling over my words and muttering “sorry” in between paragraphs. I held back tears, and choked on words, but got through it. People reacted in the best way possible, with support and understanding. It was incredible experience. My speech is below:
People in our community are dying. The lives of LGBTQ people are ending.
And I’m not talking about the 68% of people in Russia who think homosexuality is wrong, with 22% thinking LGBTQI people should be isolated and where Putin’s laws encourage vigilante homophobic attacks.
I’m not talking about the fact that trans people are 400 times more likely to be assaulted or murdered than any other member of the LGBTQI community.
I’m talking about the homosexual men of London who are dying from drug use.
One third of gay men in the UK take recreational drugs regularly, verses just 10% of heteroseuxals who consider their drug usage to be “recreational”. We already have a hugely disproportionate number of gay men with HIV per capita in comparison to any other western minority, and sadly HIV and chem sex go hand-in-hand these days.
In 2013 there were eight reported deaths of gay men that took place in saunas or sex clubs as a result of party drug use. Aside from the fact that these deaths were undignified tragedies, the fact that they could have been avoided is an ever more upsetting revelation.
Of 300 people surveyed by GMFA in The Chem Sex Survey, 20% of participants under the age of 25 had taken Crystal Meth, with G coming top of that age-group with 40% of those surveyed having used the drug.
Drug related deaths happen in many ways; it could be a guy who takes three, four, or five hits of G in a club because he can’t feel the effect yet, but when his body processes the drug he collapses. It could be the guy who’s been slamming since Wednesday, and who’s come down gets so bad he takes his life as depression takes over. It could be the guy unknowingly contracts Hepatitis C from sharing drug taking equipment and suffering from liver cancer four years later. Regardless of who these people are the fact remains that members of our community are dying. And we need to make the change to help our people.
I’ve been there with a friend, at the tail end of his addiction to mephedrone, sitting in his room as he strips off from a hot flash and collapses to his knees after seeing the track marks on his arms. I’ve carried my flatmate from the shower to his bed, as he’s shaking and moaning from a bad reaction to a legal high. I’ve seen a friend become hospitalised as welts under his skin become bruised and infected. I’ve seen interventions happen, resulting in one of my best friends leaving London for good.
I’ve also been there, fucking a 22 year old in a sling as he’s slammed by another sexual partner. I’ve been there at a threesome where I realise I’ve been spiked, drugs forced into my arse as I’m lying on my back with a fogged up gas mask on, unable to say no. I’ve been tricked by a friend to “have him pissfuck me”, plug me and leave me to get a second hand high from his crystal meth.
I don’t take chems, but I have been involved in chem sex. Not always by my own hand, but alongside recreational drug users who’ve needed that extra boost before playing.
Chem sex affects us all, in ways we might not know. Your friend who suddenly becomes depressed and reclusive because of a bad reaction to something he took at the weekend, might not realise that’s the reason. He could be lying to himself as well as you because of the silencing stigma that surrounds drug use.
This isn’t a problem that will go away if we ignore it. We need to take action.
If we can’t stop the drugs from being taken then we force ourselves to open our eyes and realise what we can do. Educating ourselves on how these drugs work, what they do, how to safely take them and how to cope with the side effects are the only ways we’re going to get the message spread effectively.
We need to talk to our sexual partners about why we want to do these drugs and make sure we have the safety precautions in place for them.
Don’t share equipment. We need to know when to listen to our partners and reign it in or take a break.
We cannot be responsible for the lives of others, but we can make responsible decisions through self-education on this matter, and we need to.
I will be speaking at the next LTAGSAD event in September, so if you’re in London it’d be great if you could make it!
Check the Facebook page for event information.
Hamish (@AGayToRemember on twitter)