Lets talk about gay sex & drugs - happiness

2015-05-12
Ahead of this Thursday's London forum ‘Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs – Happiness', organiser Patrick Cash writes for Attitude about the elusive search for happiness in the LGBTI community… The Tories are back in power, and social media is deeply unhappy. Facebook is erupting with videos of alleged police brutality at the London anti-austerity protests, whilst Matt the gardener's 'Conservative Voter Tax' sign has gone viral: sign Twitter's trying to salve the burn with dark humour: https://twitter.com/50ShadesOfTory/status/596991941797126144 ​ Even long-standing right-wing honker The Torygraph isn't particularly happy: pic ​ Leaving only one outlet who could possibly be happy when everyone else isn't: mail ​Only this isn't all of social media. It's my social media sphere, made up of bleeding heart liberals who care passionately about the NHS; unlike Tories, who of course have hearts carved from stone, and therefore don't need a health service. But all our moods, whatever our political orientation, can be affected by what we consume. In 2014 Facebook was - quite ironically - filled with panicked and furious posts about 'Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment'. For one week Zuckerberg's data scientists filled 700,000 users' newsfeeds with either majority positive or negative posts, as lightning bolts no doubt fizzed about Facebook HQ and threw the scientists' electro-shock-haired shadows into manically cackling reliefs. mad scientist ​ Leaving aside the murkier Orwellian depths of Facebook's delve into mind control, the study found that: "emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness." Britney​ I gained my first real experience of gay culture working behind a bar in Soho. I found it puzzling at first that many of the guys I met appeared to be more interested in, say, Britney than politics. One evening I made the mistake of putting Adele's Rolling in the Deep on the jukebox. I wasn't prepared for how angry gay guys could get that they'd be unexpectedly subjected to 'unhappy' music. stupid bitch We can click 'I don't want to see this' on an article about ISIS luring gay men into fake dates in order to execute them, and hide from our feed the girl, 12, bullied for bisexuality, who committed suicide. We don't have to read about the Supreme Court of America debating whether we can get married or not, or that Ireland are feared to vote no. It's hard to be happy when we're constantly told the world is full of enemies who we didn't make and have never met. Why not craft a lava lamp of happiness in which to live? Because it's not real. Sadness exists between the lines of smiling Kylie songs, and a disco ball needs shadow to shine. This fear of 'emotional contagion' triggers may originate from a deep-rooted unhappiness that twists back, thorn-filled, into a dark past. "I still remember the fear of going into school and having to make the walk home," said David Hodge, Soho drag queen Dusty O, when I interviewed him last year. "A group of boys playing 'chase the poof'. It haunts me to this day, the feeling of being powerless and having no dignity left." Similarly this year I spoke to recent Liberal Democrat MP candidate for Vauxhall, Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, on his experience with homophobic bullying: 10854859_915833865103404_217953919392182584_o ​Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett speaking at 'Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs'. Image by Joel Ryder. "The mental and physical bullying I received at school directly lead to me having a very low self-esteem... As major organisations like Stonewall have highlighted in recent reports, eradicating homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying at school, in the workplace or on the sports field will reduce the chance that people will end up with self-destructive natures which can be fuelled by drug or alcohol abuse." Gay men's sexualised drug use, or chemsex, is very much about happiness. There is a line between pleasure and self-destruction that is drawn with happiness. "The solution to this problem is gay men loving themselves better," says 56 Dean Street's David Stuart, who runs the open-mic 'Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs' with me. "When you've got senior people with a voice saying 'let's hate each other because they're drug users' the it undoes ten years of work that I might do." That's why for our event this Thursday 14th, we're discussing happiness amongst the gay community and how we can help each other to be happier. Everyone is welcome, whether to speak or listen. I get unhappy when I see a newsfeed full of liberals' hopelessness at another five years of Tory attacks on the vulnerable; I get unhappy when I see yet another article entitled 'The Lack of Connection in Today's Gay Culture'. But I fear if I hide it away, that would just be smothering feelings to fester in the dust of my mind. To let it out my body, and achieve true happiness, I need to shape it into words. 'Let's Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Happiness' is on Thursday 14th May at Ku Klub, 30 Lisle Street, Chinatown, WC2H 7BA. Doors 6.30pm, free entry. As well as our open-mic at the event's heart, our fabulous featured speakers include: Dr R Justin Hunt giving his paper on comedowns and chillouts. Glitter Crisis, the blogger who pretends to be literary heroines on Grindr. Ernesto Sarezale, renowned Basque gay poet of London. Tareq de Montfort, a gay Islamic artist who explores themes of truth and happiness. Simon Marks, the host of the highly successful 'A Change of Scene' events. Fabulous Russella, performing us out into the night. WORDS BY PATRICK CASH