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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 287 > CHEMSEX WAR ZONE

CHEMSEX WAR ZONE

WHEN EX-SOLDIER JAMES WHARTON APPEARED ON ATTITUDE’S COVER IN 2012, HE WAS CELEBRATED AS A GAY HERO. BUT AFTER THAT HE FELL INTO ADDICTION. NOW THE IRAQ WAR VETERAN HAS WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT EXPERIENCES HE DESCRIBES AS MORE HARROWING THAN HIS TIME IN THE ARMY
Matt Cain with James Wharton, right

The first time I met James Wharton was at the Attitude Awards in 2012. He was fresh-faced, excitable and fun — and he had a fascinating life story to tell. Brought up in a working-class family in Wrexham, North Wales, he joined the British Army at the age of 16, fought in the Iraq War and became the poster boy for the newly gayfriendly armed forces.

He appeared on the cover of Attitude with his civil partner Thom McCaffrey to campaign for equal marriage and in 2013 published his autobiography, Out in the Army. But when he left the military that same year, his relationship began to deteriorate. The following summer, the couple went their separate ways.

A few months after that, James discovered chemsex.

According to a 2014 study, chemsex is “sex between men that occurs under the influence of drugs taken immediately preceding and/or during the sexual session.” But the term has become synonymous with weekend-long parties organised via hook-up apps and held mostly — although not exclusively — in big cities.

There are three main chemsex drugs: mephedrone, crystal meth and, most notably, GHB (or just “G”).

James has struggled with them all, and, as a close friend, I observed first-hand the impact they had on his life. Like all addicts, James’s recovery is ongoing, but now he’s opened up about his experience in a new book, Something for the Weekend. It’s a compelling read and one that catalogues the full horror of his experiences, including a graphic account of how he was raped while unconscious after taking G. It’s a subject he’s now ready to discuss with Attitude.

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About Attitude

On the cover: All American Boy Steve Grand in his hottest shoot ever. Plus: the stars from God’s Own Country on why it’s more than just the British Brokeback Mountain, former soldier James Wharton’s chemsex battle, Corrie’s gay DILF Daniel Brocklebank, and what’s gay life like in Beirut?
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