The elephant in the room
(By Zachary Zane) - “In New York City, you hop online at 3 or 4 in the morning [and] a great deal of the people online are using some kind of drug and looking to have sex on it,” James* told me. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. I started having chemsex when I was 18 because it was normalized through these apps and the gay men I was meeting.”
In the gay community, chemsex (short for chemical sex) is often the elephant in the room. Also referred to as play, PnP, or parTy (T for Tina, a common nickname for crystal meth), chemsex is when someone purposefully takes drugs — usually GHB or crystal meth — to fuel sex (often for hours on end, and with more than one partner).
Chemsex parties and encounters happen everywhere, but they particularly thrive in large, queer-friendly metropolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles, and London.
I should make abundantly clear that the issue with chemsex isn’t that men are sleeping with various strangers. Exploring your sexuality with various guys can be a beautiful thing. The problems are linked to the community’s habit of slut-shaming and drug dependency, not to mention participants’ emotional and physical safety.
Take Greg. He invited a gay couple over on New Year’s Eve in 2008, before hookup apps like Grindr and Hornet swept the mainstream. They first met online, then in person to smoke meth and have sex. Things turned dark pretty quickly.