Well, In the gay media recently has been the reported deaths of gay men due to drug overdoses (GHB). This is more common than many people may realise or want to face. Over a weekend Hospitals in the area of Vauxhall in London regularly see gay men end up in Accident and Emergency due to either drug overdoses or mixing drugs and or alcohol that doesn’t mix. Why is this important you may ask?
Well research from The Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester has found that gay men are something like TEN TIMES more likely, than heterosexual men to have taken a class A substance in the last six months now this is shocking statistic and if like usage or crack and or heroin which is linked to crime, we saw similar increase in gay men committing crime then maybe we would see more action from Government and Drug and Alcohol services (yes there are some e.g. Antidote in London) that are doing good work! Also some indications are now coming through that more gay men are developing physical dependency to some recreational drugs ( GBL) this means that there needs to be a prescribed medical solution as well as a counseling intervention, so like with heroin where (methadone). However there is no real strategy like there is with heroin to tackle this! And as I have said numbers are increasing, leave aside Meow, Mcat, MDMA, E, Coke, Ketamine and Crystal Meth. The usual drug of choice for gay men.
Now I am no prude and I have myself dabbled in partying and using Class A’s however I always knew when enough was enough and only ever experienced two times when I had bad experiences of paranoia, panic attacks or basically losing control of my physical and mental senses. I have however seen many men who have and ask the A&E folk, or people who have done outreach in the clubs in Vauxhall how many they see over a course of a weekend.
Now I came out in the 1990s when Gay Clubbing really took off and when you could party from Friday night to Monday morning with out stopping. When E’s cost £15 (THEY NOW COST £5 at most!) When we started to see things change politically, legally and socially for gay men, we were more visible and the gay media really started to take off and also more people were flirting with the Pink Pound and realized we, well some of us had money to spend! Also at the time treatment for HIV really started to improve and gay men with HIV were starting to live longer and healthier. Why I am mentioning this, well all of this in my mind has sown the seeds of where we are today!
I would say that most people would agree that high degree of class A drug use amongst gay men is an indicator that something is amiss somewhere, also the link with risky sexual behaviour and drug use as well, I have known guys who have spent 36 hours in a sauna off their faces and have no idea of who they had sex with and what they have done. I am not saying that everyone who uses class A’s has issues or needs some kind of help. However there is clearly an issue here, why when we are now almost treated completely equal are so many men engaging in self harming behaviour as in some regards what this is, is self harm? The UK has the LGB&T equality rating in Europe! Yet this issue remains along with rates of HIV that aren’t going down!
So how has this come about! Well for me I see this has having several roots. As a community we’re still healing from effects of growing up in a heterosexist and to some degree homophobic society, The demon of HIV doesn’t seem so bad now to many gay men. We have a gay media that perpetuates a stereotype of a gay lifestyle revolving around looking muscle, having loads of sex and being out all the time on the gay scene, we have saunas open 24 hours a day, Mobile phone apps that allow us to hook up with any random bloke any time of the day, we have services that are still not aware of the needs of gay and bisexual men. I know now there is an issue with gay men feeling comfortable with telling a sexual health nurse that at the weekend they fucked by 10 men and had two fists up their arse!
The issue of the gay media and the stereotypes of what sexy gay men look like and how the currency gay men can use to judge their worth being sex can be quite damaging to oneself esteem especially if the one place you go to, to feel safe is the gay scene. And on that gay scene drug use Is prolific and a lot of that drug use is during sex. So you can perhaps see we have a nice little cycle their!
Then on to Social media apps and the ability to hook up, which increases the chances of getting sex. Just the other day I was chatting to a guy to was so complimentary to me, About how sexy I was, How interesting I seemed, until he asked me if I did Tina when I replied No, he stopped messaging me, so again here is the push for men to feel pressurized to try and experiment with drugs in order to feel accepted and part of something or to feel that they will be loved, found sexy by another man!
With issue of HIV of many men feeling it’s not as bigger deal as it was say in the late 80s and early 90s, when at that time 100s of gay men were dying every year from HIV related condition and today that total! So the more risk taking and feeling that it’s not an issue. Again I must be asked by perhaps one in ten of the guys who message me if I bareback and they usually ask if I do Chems as well!
If all of this isn’t challenging enough the people who provide drug services are mostly unaware of all of this. I do do training courses in awareness and have done so with drug and alcohol workers who most of them don’t know that for example gay men are TEN TIMES more likely to have taken a class A in the last six months!
Of course the responsibility lies in a few places, with gay men to seek support, support each other and perhaps think about our behaviour and the messages we have just accepted and bought into. Into gay media for being so focused on specific types of gay men and gay lifestyles, On services not being as aware as they could be of our needs and issues. There may be not be a correlation between drug use and gay men committing crimes however evidence is indicating higher levels of dependency and addiction. So something has to be done
This is a huge issue and as I started to write this it become more obvious that I had a lot to say on this! At the end of day I just want to feel that life is happier and healthier for me and for my gay and bisexual brotherhood. We are all in this together so to speak so we have some responsibility to make things better and reduce or eliminate the numbers of gay men who end up in causality or worse dead!