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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 348 > The Life of the Party

The Life of the Party

“It’s very much the ‘aſter party’ scene. The word chemsex is a dirty word. It’s not a word that, definitely in Dublin, or Ireland, we’re comfortable using here.” Adam Shanley, outreach worker with the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) and manager of Know Now, the rapid HIV testing service, speaks with Stephen Moloney about men having sex with men on drugs.

Shanley opens our conversation with a primer on definitions: “When we think strictly about what drugs are used in chemsex or chillouts, it’s typically mephedrone, G and crystal meth. But if there’s a drug that’s tied up in your sex, then it is what we are calling chemsex.” He continues: “MDMA or ecstasy have a lot more emphasis on empathy, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to want to fuck. G and crystal meth can be for the sheer enjoyment of the high, but that moreish, disinhibited sexualised feeling is to the fore.”

Today, according to Shanley, G remains the most popular drug on this scene. A relative caginess around its consumption is becoming increasingly dispensed with in favour of greater honesty, an openness in laying bare the potential vulnerabilities faced by people who use the drug. He explains: “What’s concerning for us at the clinic are the stories where you go to the party, you take off your jocks, and if you go under it’s your own fault. If you’ve woken up and you feel that someone has had sex with you, you say, ‘that was my fault, I took too much G, what was I expecting?’”

Unsettling too is the handful of men dying annually from G. That the drug exits the body fast and is difficult to pinpoint unless specifically looked for makes tracking the number of fatalities challenging. Moreover, it is simply not being talked about: “I either hear through the backwater of friend groups, or through official lines among clinicians, that someone has died due to G. I find it bizarre that we’re not having that kind of conversation,” Shanley says. While emphatic in not wanting to conflate distinct issues, he adds: “when gay men start to die in their numbers from something associated with our sex, for that not to alarm us based on our history is concerning.”

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About GCN

In this super-hot Sex Issue, we are celebrating sex positivity and body positivity, all of the good stuff, basically. In a host of incredible interviews and opinion pieces, the community speaks about the issues that matter to them. The fabulous Evvol talk about showcasing lesbian eroticism in their work, while a special report details the afterparty scene for gay men. We speak to Mary Shannon, the custodian of the Irish Names Quilt, while iconic photographer Wolfgang Tillmans talks about his latest exhibition. In recognition of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, we highlight the activists and volunteers of ACT UP and KnowNow and look at key moments in Ireland's battle against the virus. We also speak to people from across the spectrum of varying relationships about why theirs works for them. We think you'll enjoy this one!