By Chandelier Kahlo/Posted at;elpasoheraldpost.com –
As a queer individual that has grown up in the club circuit, and having done my share of drugs as well, I can tell you first hand the devastation I’ve seen wrought by drugs.
Now, it’s no secret that the gay community has long been one of the largest consumers in party drugs since the beginning of gay liberation. After years of oppression and inability to be open about our sexuality, we now take great pride in our ability to drunkenly stumble our way of through our personal dance floors and pay $1.25 for a vodka tonic. It’s really is a time to be alive if you’re a queer individual.
Sex and drugs are just a couple of Grindr messages away at any given time. As I explored the darkest corners of Grindr and the individuals that have slipped into these cracks, I found much more than just a good time, but rather found the counterculture of “PNP” (party and play).
In fact, the epidemic has become so widespread throughout the US, that Grindr has gone as far banning certain words from the app in an attempt to deter itsusers from chem sex. In order to grasp this growing epidemic, we must first understand what chem sex and PNP culture is and what they entail.
Crystal meth works by stimulating the central nervous system. It is much stronger than cocaine and can be ingested, snorted, smoked, and – in the case of many of those who partake in PNP culture – injected, which is called slamming.
This results in feelings of extreme euphoria for users for hours or even days at a time. Its side effects can include – but are not limited to extreme anxiety, paranoia, unpredictable behavior, extreme weight loss, and elevated blood pressure.
Within the gay community, it is used as a stimulant to participate in long sessions of sex, which is where the term party and play is coined.
Because of the extreme effect that the drug has on the nervous system, lapses of judgment becomes prevalent amongst its users and in many cases, leads to unsafe sexual practices which increases the risk for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. It is also common for users to share needles when slamming, which is the leading cause of new HIV infections in drug users.
It’s important to note that like all drugs, this particular drug is prominent within marginalized communities; not specifically because of race or sexuality, but rather because of the socioeconomic status of the users. Because marginalized groups have less opportunities to receive an education on healthy sexual practices and drug abuse prevention, these social problems become rampant within these communities.
In the PNP subculture within the gay community, this narrative of minorities struggling with drug addiction is highlighted as users look for a place to fit in and explore sexually with-like minded individuals who also slam.
Of course, because this is an unhealthy sexual practice with extreme repercussions to the users health and psyche, the results of this attempt to find a community within the PNP culture leads, in many cases, to a deadly end….