Before chems became the main course and not the starter, GAY MEN’S HEALTH was all about not catching the lurgee, the gay plague bestowed upon us by an unknown force and according to Donna Summer in the ’80’s, it was the Lord himself shouting down from above – no more bum fun for you lot. Sacrifice your pleasures. While we are on the subject of anal temptation, ask any straight boy how they like it and it’s up the botty every time. Not their own of course, that’s for late night net chat fantasies, no it’s how they like to feel the force with a lady, so it’s not just prime homo territory as people assume. In the 1930’s anal penetration was grounds for hetero divorce in the courts and I gather was more popular than adultery when it came to sealing the deal.

You would think by the amount of HIV related material rammed down our throats for over 20 years, that it’s the only disease we suffer from. All government funding around HIV/AIDS began to dry up in the mid-nineties from the HIV pot when combos came in in 1996, it was combos or support services, not both, so fundees hunted around and found excess cash in the Mental Health budget to continue filling the AIDS industry coffers. PACE popped up, other agencies appeared but still the main focus remains HIV/AIDS. Even PACE’s strapline still says . . . sex, relationships & HIV. This serves to collude with the notion that HIV is the main issue for gayers when in fact (as any prison or hospital will tell you) alcohol and drug abuse is the REAL issue for individuals. So in order to serve the PC world of funding, we put the cart before the horse. No one dare speak of the elephant in the room, the love that dare not speak it’s name: we take too many drugs.

The amount of gay addicts around is very small compared to a majority who know they do “too much”, and it’s this grouping that maybe needs to consider a more purposeful approach to getting trashed.

No one wants to stop the party – just leave earlier, it’s an easy sacrifice to make. Many Doctors remain frustrated that recreational drug use is compromising the work of combos, that gay mental health is only brought up when a G overdose is mentioned, that Hep C amongst gay men is rising fast within those with positive status. Places like PACE can attract those already interested in the healing process, and it’s good that they exist but that big majority who do “too much” would rather eat a snakes cock that present themselves at those hallowed doors, or enter a support group.  If this was not true, PACE would not need a big ad budget to promote and sign people up for FREE workshops – the queue would already be there.

The reality is that groups are just not AD FAB enough, nor is the concept of self observation of any kind. The scene is being dominated by induced emotions via chems, unsafe sex is being acted out via alcohol, dry cleaning fluid, horse tranquilliser and home made meth factories : not really what Oscar Wilde had in mind is it?. Doesn’t it make sense to reduce the stuff we put in our bodies before we stuff someones brain out?

Just because I haven’t used chems or alcohol since the early ’80’s, does not delete me from debate. In order to stay alive I needed to sacrifice, let go, wake up and create my own place in the gay arena without chemical support.

It was hard at first, living with Chronic Active Hep B, a virus 100 times more infectious than HIV, as an unknown supercarrier infecting other gay men for 12 years without any symptoms myself. When I finally stopped using and drinking, my cirrhosis scarred liver worsened into liver failure again and again. My eventual recovery without medication of any kind, plus a lot of personal development and breathwork therapy, released the Hep B virus in 1996 from my body, the same year combos arrived for those suffering with the impact of the HIV virus.

So I know it’s possible to change lifestyle, thought patterns and habits.

The keyword is SACRIFICE. Now I know that sounds a bit religious but the truth is that if we reduced our intake of chems, became consciously responsible enough to wear condoms and drank less, the HIV figures would tumble. Yet the services available and the funding required for drug & alcohol support agencies, especially gay ones, is a piss in the ocean compared to the HIV gravy train.

The cart before the horse is not going to win the race. No one is suggesting stopping the booze or avoiding coke but jesus, look at yourselves. Without checking out yourself and taking action, denial will remain a constant companion and its a difficult friend to drop, but without the concept of sacrifice we will not survive the turmoil. The credit crunch has woken us up to debt and if banks carry out the threat of hiking up the minimum payment for credit cards then many gayers are going to have to change address, gone away, address not known.

If each gayer reduced intake of substances, relationships would change, depression and comedowns would be lessened and people could stand a chance of finding themselves again. I can’t safely use again, I crossed that magic line into addiction, but you can check out your habits and reduce party pleasure before the future need to checkin to a rehab. It just takes a little sacrifice on your part, a little practice each day to create a big result. Start making a list now of where to begin this worthwhile journey of consciousness and personal responsibility.