Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2005
Source: Xtra! (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Pink Triangle Press
Author: Brad Fraser
Note: Brad Fraser is a playwright who recently finished his stint as 
head writer of Queer As Folk.
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


There Are Others To Blame For Our Woe

The bullshit propaganda that gay people are fed by the straight media 
is horrifying. But not nearly as horrifying as the bullshit 
propaganda we quite happily feed ourselves.

Tweakers: How Crystal Meth Is Ravaging Gay America is a perfect 
example of negative propaganda being fed to a gay audience under the 
guise of yet another wake-up call to a community that is "destroying 
itself." This time the alarm is being sounded over crystal meth, also 
known as crank, tina, ice or chalk. It is yet another drug that is 
being blamed for the many terrible things that sometimes happen in 
our community, like crack cocaine or PCP were for earlier generations.

It is filled with anecdotal horror stories related by the poor people 
who have become addicted to the drug. Each of these tales follows a 
pattern that becomes quickly recognizable: Subject starts doing drug 
recreationally. Subject starts to take increasingly higher doses of 
drug in order to replicate that first high. Subject becomes addicted 
to drug, starts having unsafe sex for hours or days at a time, 
destroys their family/ social/professional life and hits rock bottom 
in some hideously dramatic fashion. Subject realizes they have a 
problem and tries to get off crystal, usually unsuccessfully.

Of course the details vary slightly. Some are successful businessmen, 
others are wild club kids, while most are just average fags like you 
and me. But once you've read the first narrative of a meth addict 
you've read them all. In fact, once you've read any story involving 
negative addiction, whether it's alcohol, cocaine, heroin, greasy 
fried foods, kinky sex or cigarettes, you've read them all and they 
get tiresome very fast. As most gay men will learn by the time 
they're 30, the only thing more boring than being involved with a 
drug addict is being a drug addict yourself.

The author, like many before him, draws a very direct line from 
crystal use to HIV seroconversion. It's a neat, tidy book and would 
be far less offensive if it actually was what it should have been - a 
pamphlet. But it's a book.

Despite these rather grandiose claims I saw nothing in this book that 
went even an iota beyond the expected "war on drugs" party line that 
America likes so much. It's the attitude that says all drugs are bad 
and must be wiped out, that there are no casual or recreational users 
of drugs, just addicts and that all of an addict's problems stem from 
the drug they do rather than the decisions they make.

This morally simplistic attitude doesn't work, consumes huge amounts 
of tax dollars to enforce in a mediocre fashion, stigmatizes the 
diseased addicts by making them criminals and forces mind-altering 
substances underground where both their purity and their quality are 
uncontrolled and dangerous. Better to legalize all substances and 
talk about the real problems, which aren't crystal or any other drug, 
but addiction, hypocrisy and hatred.

It seems also somewhat dangerous to suggest that crystal meth is the 
number one reason behind the recent rise in HIV infection. While it 
is true, as Tweakers states repeatedly, that men on crystal make some 
very bad sexual decisions brought on by the sexual frenzy the drug 
sometimes induces, it is also true that if it weren't for the very 
popular prescription erection-enhancing drugs like Viagra to offset 
the impotence usually brought on by any speed-based drug, the rate of 
HIV infection would be lessened considerably. I suspect very few 
people have ever been infected with HIV by someone with a limp cock.

While Tweakers is quite happy to lay the blame on crystal I still 
suspect that there are more gay men using alcohol rather than any 
other substance to give themselves permission to fuck bareback. These 
are all very complex problems and to suggest they're simpler than 
they actually are is to suggest there is an equally simple solution 
and that's where the danger comes in.

It's interesting to note that the last five years has seen a rise, 
not only in HIV infection, but other STDs, too, most notably 
syphilis. Many point their fingers at increased drug use, despite the 
fact that crystal and drugs like it have been around for decades.

No one points their finger at another force even stronger and more 
persuasive than drugs that has also been affecting the gay community 
for an equal amount of time. I'm talking about George Bush and the 
Republican party. That isn't meant facetiously. Ever since Bush took 
power, broke the rule of international law to wage his personal war 
in Iraq, got into bed with the Evangelicals to win a second term and 
gave Americans permission to break any law they don't "morally" agree 
with, the gay and lesbian community has been under tremendous pressure.

In fact, the last five years, in which the battle for equal rights 
symbolized by same-sex marriage has exposed just how much church and 
state-sanctioned hatred still exists throughout the world for 
homosexuals, have probably been the most stressful in our community's 
history. There's nothing like asking to take part in straight 
people's most flawed and malleable institution to reveal just how 
irrational and deeply held their hatred of homosexuality is. People 
talk with great alarm about the number of substance abusers in our 
community but, given the opposition we face every minute of every 
day, I'm actually surprised that there are so many gay people who 
don't abuse substances at all.

It's hard not to feel like you're worthless when the rest of the 
world keeps telling you you're worthless. And we are worthless to 
straight people. Take the recent death orgy surrounding that broken 
hand-puppet of evil, the pope. They came from far and wide to honour 
him. But all I know about the pope is that he condemns the use of 
condoms and sees homosexuality as a sin.

Who came to see Pope John Paul II off to the next world? George Bush 
Senior, responsible for putting Saddam Hussein and his murderous 
regime into power, leading to the deaths of thousands of the Iraqi 
people; George Bush Junior, responsible for starting a war against 
the man his father put into power that led to the deaths of thousands 
of Iraqi people because of "inaccurate information;" Bill Clinton, 
who, with his "oral sex isn't sex" stand, is almost single-handedly 
responsible for encouraging every girl in America to be an 
accomplished cocksucker by age 12; and Prince Charles, an admitted 
adulterer. These are our "good men." They allow us to be 
systematically oppressed because we have lifestyles their 
constituents aren't comfortable with.

And someone's going to try to tell me crystal meth is the problem 
that's ravaging gay men in America? Wouldn't things be so much easier 
if that were true?

Alyson Publications. $19.50. 249 pages.
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