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Drug culture is hollowing out our meaningful connections as London’s gay scene collapses

Drug culture is hollowing out our meaningful connections as London’s gay scene collapses

I recently saw a photo of my first ever boyfriend. The announcement of his engagement to his partner (also featured in the photo) on Facebook made me think about the different paths people can take, whether they are aware or not, and compelled me to compare the world’s we live in.

One obvious comparison shone out, his life enjoyed at least one long-term genuine connection with someone and while I have a strong circle of friends my ability to do this was made all the more volatile due to the stereotypical minefield of gay social culture in an international setting like London, after all it’s all here.

After wondering why I hadn’t been able to achieve such a strong connection as my ex I uncomfortably, yet maybe thankfully in some ways, realized that there exist many external influences in my world that liken my thought patterns to the vast majority of other people living in London’s gay culture and while many stereotypes fragment us as a global culture and maintain these behavioral patterns one London element rapidly allows the opportunity for us first to unite, then to be divided and conquered, and that’s drugs.

Dan Beeson
Dan Beeson

So you’re thinking I’m sour to the fact that I can’t find a boyfriend – my first thought as to what you’d think reading this – and I’ve chosen to use drugs and gay London as an excuse for my failed attempts at genuine connections. Well, when even friends who have recently begun a ‘drug journey’ call you at one in the morning on Christmas Day asking you back after a mature dinner party because they managed to find some ‘stuff’, you start to look at things a little differently.

Not only do we contend with potential love interests and their indulging recreational drug use, which seems to more than not be present in some form, it is our companions and friends who look at us with a disposable eye when a free bag of Mephedrone is on its way from the latest new boy on the block, all the night before you had planned a ‘Sunday in the park with George’ type Christmas with them.

Sunday is the ‘lost day’ for many a gay, but not Christmas.

Now, I am able to be objective – sometimes you just don’t gel with people or personal boundaries of confidence or ‘stereotype’ have you believe that you can’t walk in the same circles – but an underlying issue for an exponential number of people is that the corrosive behavior and pattern of drug use is relegating the possibility of new and already cemented friendships to the back bench in favor of the drug cycle; go out, take drugs, have empty smoking area friendships, cancel Sunday roast plans with people who you can remember the name of, spend daylight hours asleep or high, leave it a week and repeat.

Having observed this cycle and dipped my toes in the water, I find myself on the outside, bitter at friends past, present and definitely future doing to me what I once never thought to be an issue my own, and trapped with one contradictory belief: ‘It’s so hard to break free of that drive to fit in that ironically what makes you think you’re different, ultimately makes you the same.’

I believe that on some level everyone immersed in this culture has this thought ingrained in their subconscious, and that if they choose at one or a few times not to entertain the drive to fit in in favor of a more savory and true experience that they are not like everyone else and have some control or grip on the situation, but in reality and dotted around parallels are making the same choices, until gravity takes hold and draws them back into a perpetuating cycle.

Thinking you’re different is surprisingly part of this cycle and is what encourages your continuation; believing that you can come away from it at anytime.

We need to acknowledge and realize more often that instinct falsely tells us that taking on the traits of a culture, generated and maintained only by us, in order to fit in and not stand out will find us genuine and meaningful connections, where as standing out and not fitting in is actually what will make you noticed in a crowd of copies.

Drugs are taking us further away from this realization, making it even easier to repeat a comfortable cycle and illogically making the choice of building meaningful relationships in a savory setting unsatisfactory in comparison to meeting a new best friend or other at 11am in a club/random living room setting week in week out.

Maybe this is just my experience and maybe I didn’t have the control that some people do – or maybe I’m older than my years – and others are able to straddle both these world’s with balance, but from what I’ve seen of the state of the London’s gay scene, as more friends fall into the void and legendary clubs and bars face extinction due to rising drug use and social apps, I wonder if they truly can.

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