Let's talk about gay sex, drugs and alienation

2015-08-11
Patrick Cash writes for Attitude ahead of the next Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs forum, taking place in London this week... A couple of weekends ago I was out on a mixed gay/straight stag do in Brighton. Saturday night was a cross-dressing theme, which the straight guys took to with great enthusiasm, raiding the lingerie section of the local Primark. SashayAway ​ After pre-drinking in the apartment, we staggered out unsteady on our heels onto the street, where the first people we encountered were three ten-year-old children. omen ​ After a moment's awkward staring stand-off, the children began to laugh. And not like they had mature senses of humour that could appreciate a fabulous subversion of gender norms. Literally like: NELSON-vi ​ ​The gay guys in the group flicked their weaves, adjusted their corsets, and flounced off to the taxi rank with a parting shot of: 'equality!' But it was the straight guys who had the most interesting reactions. From their exuberant vodka-induced high spirits, suddenly their faces were all a bit: sad-cat-bath ​ As one said glumly in the cab: "Maybe Brighton isn't as liberal as we thought it was." ​ ​For the first time, these straight guys had an experience of what it's like to be... Well, not straight. Yet at the end of the night they can kick off their £12 Primark heels, wipe off the makeup, and go back to their alpha male safety of Levis jeans and Metallica T-shirts. Of course the gay guys can do exactly the same, but they'd still know this feeling inside. It's an occasional feeling of alienation, from a society that revolves around Romeo & Juliet as its most famous love story. Taylor Swift ​ Especially when that society has little or no education about sexuality and gender in schools. Hence why those children laughed, and why we as gay men can probably all identify with this feeling of growing up on the outside. Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs was originally set up as an event to tackle 'chemsex' in London. It's developed from those beginnings into a gay community event. Everybody who wants to speak gets five minutes, and anybody is welcome, whether to speak or listen. People come together to share their stories, without fear of judgement, and bond. Chemsex is still very much a theme, but it's also become a celebration of how great gay men can be, with featured performers, drag, singing, comedy and theatre. At the next event, this Thursday 13th, we're joining John Water's art installation Alien Sex Club. Our theme will be 'aliens'. Let's subvert that word, because none of us are aliens when we truly feel we belong. Our featured speakers for 'Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Aliens' include: Glitter Crisis Glitter Crisis "I'm Glitter Crisis, a writer and humourist who writes on queer politics and digital sexualities. I'll be speaking about sex through the ages and the alientation of sex online." Alan Bonner Ronnie flyer 1 Queer Singer Songwriter Alan Bonner has toured internationally, released two albums, and has BBC6 Music airplay and critics' comparisons to the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Frank Turner to his name. He will be performing songs that deal with shame and the struggles that many gay men have to find intimacy and form meaningful relationships as a result of it. ​ Dr Justin Varney, National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England BWSmallJustin Varney 2 Within Justin's portfolio at PHE is work to tackle the health inequalities affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. In the last year PHE has launched a national report on the health and wellbeing of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, coordinated a targeted series of projects working with black and minority ethnic gay and bisexual men, launched a toolkit on suicide prevention with LGB and T youth for nurses with the Royal College of Nursing and developed a new training resource for doctors on LGB issues with the Royal College of General Practice. Dr Varney is a previous chair of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists, and of the Southwark LGBT Network, he has also been a member of the Metropolitan Police LGBT Advisory Group. Sam Reynolds 11831259_10155855377320104_1995803013_o "I'm a cabaret performer, making social commentaries through drag, dance, mime, clowning and boylesque, on subjects ranging from unemployment to social media, and in this case, gay hook-up apps." ​ The Clinic the clinic poster SMALL web The Clinic is a new gay play written by myself, Patrick Cash, with help from gay men's sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street. It's inspired by many of the themes of 'Let's Talk', including: sex, chems, apps, HIV and love. We will be showing an excerpt starring Zachariah Fletcher, Stewart Who? and Damien Killeen before it plays at the King's Head Theatre, 24-29th August. ​ Paul Bygraves Paul Bygraves "My name's Paul Bygraves, 30, run a salon in South London but am also an actor. I'll be singing Nina Simone's I Wish I Could Feel What It Is To Be Free." 'Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Aliens' is on Thursday 13th August at Alien Sex Club, Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS, from 6.30pm. Free entry. Words by PATRICK CASH