Let's talk about gay sex, drugs and body image

2015-07-08
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 scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when I saw a gay friend post this status: Screenshot 2015-07-07 at 21.37.57 Quite possibly this isn't the physically healthiest status you'll ever read. But it's sometimes refreshing for mental health, at least for me personally, to see a status like this from another gay man. Often when my gay newsfeed uses the word 'gym', it's accompanied by a picture like below, and the word 'aims'. chris pratt Which spurs me, and probably a fair few other guys, to run to the gym and do more: biceps Because working out will totally get us loads more: james franco Dont get me wrong, keeping fit is great. There are some wonderful gay sports and fitness clubs out there like the London Gay Boxing Club, Stonewall FC and the King's Cross Steelers. But this pressure to look like the embodiment of perfection can get heavy. Especially when it's everywhere you look: on the screens, behind the bars, on club flyers, on websites, on hook-up apps and, yes, on the cover of Attitude. We've made the male body into our gay currency. Sure, it's to do with lust. This is always a nice sight in the morning: ass Is there something deeper about gay men's obsession with their bodies other than sex? You see we can change our bodies, but we can't change what's inside. And perhaps it's not a coincidence that many of the men at the clubs, at the chillouts, on the chemsex drugs, have these perfect gym-honed bodies. At this Thursday 9th's Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs, we'll be discussing the theme of 'bodies' within the gay male community, and how it might tie in to sex and drug use in London. Anybody is welcome, whether to speak or listen, and everyone who wants to speak gets five minutes. In addition to the open-mic at the event's heart, we will also have a range of fabulous featured speakers, three of whom have given their teaser thoughts on gay men and their bodies here: Dorota Mucha, psychosexual therapist at Us in Therapy, working predominately with same-sex couples struggling with intimacy and chemsex: photo (4) Gay men seem to have a difficult relationship with their body. They often feel that the body failed them in some ways: not tall enough, not slim enough, not muscular enough, etc. In a word: not-good-enough. The preoccupation with external physique distract us from internal feeling of not being good enough (wanted, loved, accepted). It's easier to control our body than it is our mind. Therefore we hope that if we make ourselves beautiful and perfect on the outside someone will help us to fill in the emptiness we often feel inside. The problem is: how can others love and accept us if we don't accept ourselves? How can we create a fulfilling relationship with someone if we struggle to establish one with ourselves? There seem to be a split between the mind and the body, as if the two cannot always connect. We pay attention to the flesh as if it defines who we are. We relate to the body, not the person. The question is what does it mean for intimacy? Do bodies have sex or people? Anthony Gilet, creator of gay blog Cocktails & Cocktalk: 11667810_10153738629900166_746218555_n Many a gay man's relationship with his body is quite like that of a teenage girl; obsessive, deluded, unhealthy and based on the opinions of pretty boys they wanna bang. And considering that we live in a society that praises penis size, bows down to biceps and uses the gym as a house of worship, is it any wonder? Not really. We complain that the guy we're seeing is a complete dickhead, after we've put 'personality' half-way down the list of desirable traits. After the important stuff, like pecs, abs and girth, of course. Is this why gay men have a problem finding lasting love? Because there's always a hotter, more toned Mary in the next shower cubicle? Because we're all vain queens chasing even vainer kings? Because as long as he has a good body and a big dick, it overshadows his good personality and big heart...? Morris Monroe, artist and curator of queer art exhibition Arthole London: 10359033_10153089968870236_8680097536009849649_o As an artist I have focused on the physical form for years now. Translating form into line, tone and colour. A perception of form presented to the viewer. My art is my interpretation, my manifestation. My body is also my manifestation, to be perceived and interpreted, to be presented and to be viewed. I speak with my body, with movement, with senses, with energy and sensuality. Dance, fight, sex, create, I am the artist and my body is the process of my art. When you lose your mind, you know about it, if you suddenly became soul-less, I think you would notice, yet how many of us are connected to our bodies? Our body’s consciousness, our body’s personality? Our body is a person, and how are you treating it? Do you respect it, love it, compliment it, abuse it, bully it, control is, indulge it? Is your body like an animal, wild and uncontrollable or is it like a child hurts and in need of protection or is your body a vessel, a sacred home of something great? If my body could draw how, would it draw itself? If my body could speak, how would it feel about itself? Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Bodies is on Thursday 9th July at Ku Klub, 30 Lisle Street, London, WC2H 7BA. 6.30pm, free entry. All welcome.