Let's Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs - Pride

2015-06-23
Writer and performer Patrick Cash writes for Attitude ahead of the latest London forum on LGBT attitudes to sex, love and drugs this week: I was at a gay party in Dalston on Friday night where I began speaking to a handsome young French man. Within minutes he'd confided to me, with a cheeky grin, that he'd been out clubbing the night before and hadn't slept. He'd finished work on Friday and hitched a lift straight back on the party express. "Why?" I asked. He laughed as if I'd said something funny. "No, why did you come out again?" "Because I wanted to come to the party." We looked around at the beer-drinkers flirting awkwardly in the kitchen, the meph-snorters huddled around a plate and almost everybody else on Grindr. He was hardly losing an invitation to Elton John's White Tie Ball. "You could have just gone to sleep and come out again tomorrow." mark-wahlberg-shocked-gif   Evidently I'd crossed a line that just wasn't mephedrone. With a truly gallic snort of contempt I was dismissed by French Boy, who flounced off in search of more encouraging company... Mainly in the direction of the meph plate. I'm not climbing on some moral rocking horse; in my heady past I've ended up in many similar situations to French Boy. No one ever told me to go home and go to sleep. Maybe I'd have got into less sticky situations - often literally - if they had. As Pride in London approaches this week, at this Thursday's Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Pride we're asking: how does the notion of pride fit into the gay chillout and chemsex scene? At the event's heart is our open-mic, where anybody gets five minutes to speak. But we also have a series of fantastic featured speakers, who I've asked to provide us with a teaser of their angle on gay sex, drugs and/or pride: James Ferguson, actor and musician IMG_4884   "It's easy for outsiders to view the chill out scene as a simple case of reckless hedonism. The fact that 'chillouts' are swallowing more of us up is a blatant reminder that there is still so much work left to be done. We need to accept and invest in our contradictions (rather than judge or disassociate) and work to involve with them. "We've absolutely achieved so much in the last couple of decades in terms of our capabilities but for me, the aftertaste of past traumas can still dominate the way we carry ourselves. Pride, for me, isn't just about waving the rainbow flag. It's about evolving what is already there as much as if is about looking to the future." James will serenade us out into the night with chemsex songs and a speech. ​Chris McCormack, 56 Dean Street sexual health advisor 1491374_10203988170639549_5771289393635636891_o   "Providing sexual health care to the gay community in London is a real privilege.  It is also, however, a very sad experience at times.  Almost everyday I have to tell a guy (sometimes more than one) that they have tested HIV positive. In that same day, I will see dozens of gay men come in for PEP because they have put themselves at risk. It's sad because I see gay men at different stages on an awful trajectory of self destruction. "One of the things the gay community has to develop is self-compassion. I want these men to feel proud of who they are and respect themselves and their community. I want them to challenge the self critical internal dialogue that I see all to often in my patients. "How can the gay community be proud of the London scene when it is lacking in compassion and is a dangerous place?" Kai Kai, new drag talent 11292728_10155711744100517_1833254829_n "Have you ever been made to feel like you're not good enough? I have. "And you know what? It fucking sucks. I was bullied terribly at school - poofter, shirt lifter, fudgepacker - but the one word that, no matter how long it's been since I've heard it, still makes mystomach clench with fear: Faggot. "As much as it was a terrible experience I wouldn't wish on anybody, it's part of what made me who I am today. So it's time to reclaim those words. Be yourself and be proud of the incredible person you are. I'm proud of each and every person who has gone through hardship or loss, to me. You. Are. Strong." Richard Holborn, actor 10372969_10153175964240639_7827883270960554967_o

"There is no Prince on a white horse for you, unless you go out like me." Actor Rich Holborn as Craig in The Machine (Pride Arts Festival 2015). 

"Playing Craig had been super fun, he's been deeply affected by unrequited love and the change in 'the scene'. He longs for a night out with friends socialising but he's been replaced by Grindr and chillouts. "I've found the role really cathartic as many topics in the play reflect moments in my own life. I believe Pride is having a massive impact on my generation because we feel apathetic. I think it's great as a community we can talk openly without judgement or opinions. In the future I hope to tackle these issues and develop them into new performances that are thought provoking and fun." A short excerpt from The Machine will be performed on stage.

Dan Glass, activist and writer 

Photo by Laurie Poole
"Has London LGBT Pride lost its soul? "It is with deepest regrets that I am joining the 'Rest In Peace London LGBT Pride' funeral at this year's Pride. As a Londoner I have seen Pride change so rapidly from a beautiful demonstration of grassroots groups uniting for liberation to a noisy advertisement festival with corporations competing to get rich off the pink pound. Pride was a collective friend who helped liberate the LGBTQI community from so much inequality. Now it is being sold to the highest bidder. "Pride's soul is dead. It is time to grieve. R.I.P. Pride." Mark-Ashley Dupe, DJ and scene personality, will also be one of our speakers. Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Pride is on Thursday 25th June at Ku Klub, 30 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA. 6.30pm, free entry, all welcome.