More and more is being written about chemsex all the time. Over the last 2 years, it’s even become the darling of the fringe theatres.
Painting a picture of doom and gloom topped off with woe, party and play has become a media trend.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we have people out there creating this art and getting people talking about the issues on such a wide platform.
There was so much at one point that I feared it was at risk of being sensationalized. With the root of the issue was being lost in translation.
There’s only so many gritty plays and films you can sit through without resisting the urge to stand up and say ‘I don’t remember it being like that at all.’
Especially when everyone looks like an Andrew Christian model!
Chemsex became about finding people I could be open about my HIV status with
For a lad from the quiet suburbs of the North East of England, chemsex was a revelation.
It was fun, it was exciting and it was so underground that I felt finally part of some sort of subculture. Albeit a deviant one but a culture none the less.
For me, it became about finding myself and other people who might be like me.
I could talk about anything from being HIV+ to arguing that Madonna’s Rebel Heart is her greatest album since ‘Ray of Light.’
The attraction was feeling part of something.
When I was diagnosed back in 2011 I was reluctant to go along to groups for HIV positive gay men. To me, they felt so clinical and cold.
I didn’t want to be sitting in a circle like at an AA meeting lamenting how my life was over.
In the absence of peer support, the dark and mysterious world of Chemsex became such an attraction.
Here were a group of men that were often openly positive, drop dead gorgeous and for the most part offering the intelligent conversation. And, they fancied me. Me!
This was a first time in my life that I ever felt desirable and wanted.
Of course, I know now that a 1.5 shot of G can make a lamppost look attractive in the right frame of light. However, at the time it did something for me that I’d never had before with men, confidence.
But In burying my head into this utterly seductive world I lost sight, of reality.
Then I found a new way to get the same sense of belonging
Since my diagnosis, I lost the most important person in my life followed by a significant number of family deaths. With all this going on, why the fuck would I want to face reality when this underground was so much more appealing?!
Then, two years ago, I made some drastic changes to my life.
That search for community and belonging that I was talking about earlier, I wasn’t the only one on this quest.
Many of the guys I met on the chemsex scene were looking for the same thing. They too were looking for something beyond hook ups. They were looking for friends.
In some way, I suppose I was looking for people to rescue, not realizing that I too needed rescuing.
Now I’ve found forums to talk about Madonna and HIV, without the chillouts. I go to groups like the open mic Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs and +Pals. Here the community is waking up and is embracing one another again. We are talking openly about feelings and our relationship with one another.
This is the most empowering thing you can do to build up the confidence of yourself and assure you that you are worthy!
Those of us who have walked down that road now need to start looking to the future and not be so hard on ourselves.
I’m proud to have shared my experiences on this issue in the hope that it helps and supports a member of our community. I am by no means on any pedestal.
What I urge to tell people is that it’s OK to not be OK and if you fuck up or slip up, surround yourself with people who won’t shame you.
Shame can fuck off. It’s what got us into that circumstance in the first place.
This article is part of the Gay Star News Chemsex Series. Read more stories, support and see the videos on our chemsex section.