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Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs

Posted on March 26, 2014

On Monday 31st March we’d like you to come and have your say about your experience of gay sex and drugs in London today. Why? Because no one else needs to speak for you…

By Patrick Cash

Let’s talk about gay sex, boys – because, let’s face it, no one else is. Not on mainstream TV, rarely in the national newspapers, and it even emerged at the end of last year that some LGBT sexual health websites stand to be blocked by Cameron’s internet filter. There are many prominent gay figures in the public eye but almost all are assiduously non-sexual beings, and, whilst there might be the knowing wink or euphemism by a witty comedian, the actualities of gay sex itself remain largely unspoken.

Where it is most palpably unspoken, is in schools. When I interviewed two twenty-year-old boys last year who both had been diagnosed with HIV within weeks of one another, they both mentioned that they were not taught explicitly about the virus, gay sex or methods of contraction in their education. One of the boy’s families even contacted his old school in an effort to ask why this couldn’t be spoken about more and the school, according to his own words, ‘just didn’t want to know’.

I’m hardly a qualified psychologist, and I’m not going to pretend to be one here. But I can say from my own personal experience that not talking about your sexuality when it’s forming and not expressing yourself freely can be a depressing and alienating experience. I love and fully enjoy sex with men, but maybe there are lingering elements of shame that I subliminally attach to it even now, particularly in my relation of my sex to straight society.

When I interviewed sexual health expert and drugs counsellor David Stuart from 56 Dean Street last year, one of his most illuminating theories was on the subject of gay sex: “[The gay community] needs a drug for a different purpose and that purpose is tied up with their relationship to sex. It’s tied up with fear and rejection. Too many gay guys are in bed, but not feeling horny when they’re sober. It’s tied up with their sex being about HIV – gay sex is about death, it’s about disease, it’s the naughty sex, it’s historically the sort of sex that is done in dark places like Hampstead Heath or cottages.

“From a light-hearted anecdote of what happened at that chillout, to a complete refutation of the entire chemsex conception”

“Historically it was illegal, historically it was a mental health disorder; it’s been a crime; it’s the sex for which you don’t take your partner home to sleep in your historical bedroom, under your parents’ roof. It’s the sex you don’t want your Mum and Dad imagining. Your parents might comprehend that sex is part of your sister’s marriage, but all they’ll picture when you and your partner are sitting in front of them, is frankly, shit on dicks (an extreme example).”

With all this excess societal and psychological baggage wrapped up in our relation to sex, Stuart and many others have identified a link between problematic drug use in some areas of the gay scene and increased rates of STI and HIV infections amongst gay men. But simply going all Daily Mail on gay men’s asses (as it were) and shouting ‘drugs are bad!’ from the rooftops is not going to solve anything. And drugs are not themselves villains: many outspoken public figures, from Russell Brand to official government drug advisors, have said that the UK’s approach to drug criminalisation is antiquated and ill-working. However, it can’t be denied that some people may use drugs in problematic ways.

So, what can be done about it? Come speak about these subjects. Express yourself and your opinions on sex and drugs, because your expression and opinions are just as important as the next gay man’s voice. On 31st March everyone will get five minutes in front of the mic on stage and you can speak about whatever you want in relation to the topics, from a light-hearted anecdote of what happened at that chillout, to a complete refutation of the entire chemsex conception, to a poem about your relation to G.

The point is there’s no point in bottling things up, let’s talk about gay sex and drugs.

 

• Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs’ is at Manbar (79 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0NE) on Monday 31st March from 6-8pm.
• All welcome, leave a message on the Facebook event for a speaking slot.
• In association with 56 Dean Street, who will be on site offering STI testing upstairs.

 

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