Let's talk about gay sex, drugs and friendship

2015-09-07
Ever seen When Harry Met Sally? It's a film arguably most famous for Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in a restaurant. tumblr_m2y67yc7C51qha8n4o4_250 But the plot's central premise asks whether a straight man and woman can ever have a true, platonic friendship. tumblr_n94ucaiN5P1qduh7lo1_500 Plot spoiler: no, they can't, and they end up fucking. Apply this thinking to the gay scene and there are similar troubles, especially when single. In the shadow of the scene's sex obsession, everybody you encounter is either a potential conquest or a love rival, which can make formulating friendships... Complex. Probably most of us have acted a bit ruthlessly (foolishly) over a pretty face: tumblr_lh8xstppoc1qefcb7o1_500 Yet a gay friend told me this story the other day: In the centre of Amsterdam there is a memorial shaped in three pink triangles. 6250268087_cd9d0f51cb_b It is named the Homomonument and commemorates all gay people who have been subject to persecution for their sexuality, including those killed by the Nazis. On one of the triangles is inscribed the Dutch phrase 'Naar Vriendschap Zulk een Mateloos Verlangen'. SFA008004983 It's a line of poetry by the gay Jewish poet Jacob Israel de Haan, and translates to: 'such an endless desire for friendship'. Chemsex, or use of drugs in sexualised contexts, is often spoken about as originating from some gay men's uneasy relationship to intimacy. Automatically the word 'intimacy' brings our spheres of thinking to relationships and love. Yet intimacy can just as easily be about forming friendships. If we grow up hiding away our sexualities for fear of repercussions, knowing this history of persecution against our people, it may make us put up protective barriers in later life. I remember interviewing a prominent London drag queen about the homophobic bullying he endured at school: "It had a long-term effect on me, making me very insecure about friendships and relationships and afraid to show the real me – I thought I would be told I was ugly, stupid or a freak... It was only under the armour of drag that I could grow and learn to be strong." Whereas he used drag as his armour, it's not inconceivable that others might use drugs. This isn't just my own conjecture: when interviewing men as research for The Clinic, again and again I was told how on chems people can feel like they've been friends for years with strangers off Grindr. For one night, or two days, or three days, you live a mephedrone-induced illusion of bonds forged in trust and respect. Until the comedown hits and, as one guy said: "I'll immediately delete their number." I have some of the best friends in the world. But I would say that: they're my friends. I'm sure you'd say the same of your own group. To create strong links can be intimidating: you're essentially exposing your vulnerabilities to another person and expecting them to react with empathy, not judgement. But then it's also wonderful. It's about listening, it's sometimes being there to wipe away tears and it's definitely sharing laughter. It's who makes you smile, and feel safe. At Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs we're trying to create safe spaces for gay men to share their stories. Where people can come together to speak and listen with friends, and, yes, maybe make new friendships. And within those links of friendship can build the chain of community. Therefore it's apt and exciting to be discussing 'friendship' as our theme this Thursday 10th. And my final point about friendship is one about love. I was speaking to my lesbian best friend about her long-term relationship, when she said: "But that's what love is, Pat. It's not just lust, or passion. It's finding somebody who makes you feel as good as your closest friend." Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Friendship is on Thursday 10th September at Ku Klub, 30 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA (just above Leicester Square tube). 6.30pm, free entry. The featured speakers on the night include: Rikki Beadle-Blair, writer, performer and activist Rikki Fit High Res IMG_7693rs Like the characters in ‘Gutted’, Rikki Beadle-Blair is a South East Londoner. He is also a writer, director, composer, choreographer, designer, producer and performer. He has won several awards including the Sony Award, the Los Angelest Outfest Screenwriting and Outstanding Achievement awards. His projects include several feature films and TV series, including Stonewall for the BBC, Metrosexuality for Channel 4,’ Noah’s Arc for MTV LOGO in the USA as well as FIT, KickOff and Bashment for his own company Team Angelica. Rikki also works extensively in theatre and has written 28 plays in the last decade including four for Theatre Royal Stratord East: ‘Bashment’, ‘Familyman’ ‘Shalom Baby’ and now ‘Gutted.’ Alexis Gregory, playwright, presenting an excerpt of 'Slap' Alexis Gregory (Jay Barry Matthews shot) 7b Actor and playwright Alexis Gregory reads from his play 'Slap', opening at Theatre Royal Stratford East in October. On the evenings theme of 'Friendship', Alexis reads an excerpt that covers the themes of queer solidarity and the tribes and boundaries that can within our community and ourselves. 'Slap' covers an hour in the life of male to female transsexual Dominique (played by Alexis) and her gay, drug dealing, crystal meth addicted boyfriend Danny, who hasn't got out of the bath in a week and it is described as a 'shocking, sexy and sometimes sweet rollercoaster ride you'll never forget'. Greg Owen, writer and activist 11998309_10153564394842052_464263439_n Greg will be speaking about 'friends he didn't know he had'. Recently diagnosed HIV positive and announcing it to his 5000 Facebook friends 24 hours later led to something truly unexpected to happen. Greg would like to give an insight to how the support of his real life and online friends moulded his journey. He is a firm believer that you really know who your true friends are in a crisis. Sometimes the first ones to run to your side aren't the ones you'd expect and amazingly good things can come out of what first appears to be the worst situation. Words by PATRICK CASH.