Former British soldier James Wharton has been challenged on negative comments he made about gay saunas.
Attitude's Editor-in-Chief Matt Cain interviewed James ahead of the release of his book Something for the Weekend,
which chronicles James' experiences with drugs and chemsex after splitting from his husband. The content of his book raised some questions about comments James made in the past about gay saunas.
In a 2014 column for Attitude's sister publication Winq
, James wrote: “Sex saunas need to be history. The time has come to close them down. If we don’t, we feed the haters and we hand the bigots who remain a vocal minority ammunition with which to attack us."
He continued: “For me as a gay man, the notion that there exist within our communities a series of places that actively promote the convening of gay men for participation in sex of shades various and in groups of all sizes rather revolts me – and I ‘ve been round the block a few times, believe me. I’m no prude, not even close, but the days when we gathered in clandestine fashion for the want of a network or a sexual outlet are surely long gone,”
Now, in an interview for Attitude's September issue, Matt Cain asks James whether he was guilty of hypocricy after writing about his experiences with chemsex. "In three years a lot can happen," James replies, "and a lot of which happened to me I do discuss in the book."
Addressing the supposed hypocrisy, James says: "People who have got a problem with me today, almost four years on ... if they’ve got a problem with me going through life changes and changing my opinion, and by the way I absolutely have changed my opinion and I don’t believe any word that I said back then today, I was completely wrong, but I wasn’t wrong at the time because that’s who I was and that’s the situation I was in.
"I was married, I lived in the countryside, I had my own little life, and I lived in a bubble. These days, my situation has changed considerably and I’ve learnt so much about life and my view is that everybody should be free to live how they wish, and that would definitely include people who want to go to saunas."
James first got into chemsex when he split from his husband. "I found myself, not so long after that article, back on the shelf, a single, young, gay man in North London looking to access a community to then maybe find another partner and perhaps settle down into a relationship," he says. However, rather than entering into a new relationship, James began taking drugs and engaging in chemsex.
Opening up about entering into the chemsex scene, James says "I became introduced into the community, as it was in 2014, and 2015, 2016 and today in 2017, and let me tell you, the gay community on the scene is very much using drugs, or a lot of people on the gay scene, I found, were using drugs and I became involved in there."
Read the rest of James' interview in the September issue of Attitude - out August 17.