Warning: Graphic content
“Originally, sex and drugs were different things, but somewhere along the line they became one and the same, so you were no longer having sex without drugs, and you were no longer having drugs without sex,” one young man says in the new documentary film Chemsex.
The recently launched doco, produced by Vice.com and screening around Australia this month, exposes a dark side to modern gay life and explores a secret underworld of intravenous drug use and weekend-long sex parties in London’s swinging scene where hardcore drugs and group sex have combined to create a world that is as accessible as it is dangerous.
The film itself has graphic footage showing men injecting and snorting drugs as they use sex swings. Whilst drug-fuelled sex parties aren’t a new phenomenon, experts say mobile-phone apps such as Grindr have brought them much closer to the average gay man’s reach: as a result, the proliferation of Chemsex parties has been called the biggest health crisis in the gay community in 30 years.
“There’s a lot of things wrong with the whole scene,” one man, named Dick, says in the film.
“The drugs – V (viagra), T (tina or meth), G (GHB, a depressant), M (mephedrone, a stimulant) and K (ketamine, the horse tranquiliser) – are illegal. The sex probably isn’t morally correct either.”
The film’s directors, William Fairman and Max Gogarty, take a serious-minded approach to the psychological scars this behaviour both masks and worsens.
“Chemsex is a confessional show-and-tell about a community’s search for intimacy and belonging, in what are all too often the wrong places,” they said in a statement.
“This search creates a parallel reality, a secret world where people hide their addiction in plain sight, living in a cycle of extreme pleasure and pain, validation and isolation.”
The documentary is screening in Brisbane at the New Farm Cinemas in New Farm on Friday April 8 from 6pm, presented by HIV Foundation Queensland. Tickets available from the New Farm Cinemas website. Following the screening there will be a panel discussion with healthcare professionals; Nic Holas from The Institute of Many, Dr Wendell Rosevear from Stonewall Medical Centre and Dr Amy Mullens from the University of Sunshine Coast will speak.