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Just don’t do chems, OK?

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Editor’s letter #147

Selection_160Back in 2013 we ran a big feature called ‘Slammed – drug fucking the weekend away’. It was an in-depth look at a recent trend amoungst gay men who were injecting (or slamming) crystal meth for sex. Terms like ‘PnP’ were the common lingo being used on sex/dating apps.

When we put that issue out on the scene I remember receiving a call from a very angry man who thought we were making the whole thing up. He said that this was just another case of the gay media sensationalising a small issue. Even on social media we were told that this problem was small and we should just ignore it and hopefully it would go away.


Well, two years later and I think the gay community has finally accepted that we have a major issue on our hands. PnP is now called chemsex and the term ‘chillout’ is being used to describe sex parties. Crystal meth is still a major issue but now the drugs of choice for most chemsexers are G, K and meph.

Recently GMFA, the organisation that publishes FS, launched a brand new harm reduction campaign called ‘Safer Chems’. GMFA acknowledges that gay men are using these drugs more frequently and many are overdosing on G. Rather than pump out yet another ‘just say no’ campaign – which we know doesn’t work –  we came together with Burrell Street clinic to produce an online resource that provides gay men with tips on how to dose properly, how much G they should be using and provides support and useful contacts. 

Since the campaign has launched most men who have given feedback congratulated GMFA on this fresh approach. But just like in 2013 we had others attack the charity on social media. Some think GMFA are encouraging drug use. Others think GMFA should be scaring the shit out of potential drug users. Essentially they want GMFA to go from sex party to sex party and tell everyone to ‘just don’t do chems’.

Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Telling people what they can and can’t do always works, right? Remember all those campaigns that told people not to smoke and then everyone stopped smoking… oh wait.

Let’s get real, people. Chemsex is happening whether we like it or not. Now you can bury your head in the sand and pretend that it’s simply going to stop or you can get behind GMFA and others to do our best to support the men who are using chems to 1) do chems as safely as possible and 2) get support if needed. Telling people not to do chems or making people feel like they are ‘fucked up’ because they partake in chemsex helps no-one.

There are many gay men out there who are involved in chemsex and it’s no issue to them at all. And there are lots of gay men out there who are involved in chemsex and it’s destroying their lives. We need to acknowledge both sets of men. 

And that’s what our new issue is doing. We talked to over 120 chemsexers about how they got into chemsex, what drugs they are doing, and we asked them to share their stories and provide advice for anyone who may want to try out chemsex or who wants to stop. There is no judgement or finger wagging. We are showing you the truth of what chemsex is like. 

I hope in two years time that if we decide to run another chemsex feature we are at a point where the gay community has taken control of the situation. Chemsex exists and we need to take control of it if we really value ourselves, our community and our health. 

Until next time.

Ian Howley, Editor @IanHowley

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