Chemsex is sexual activity engaged while under the influence of stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine or mephedrone, typically involving several participants. Following a recent plea by GU Clinic, and a collective statement by NGOs highlighting an outbreak of syphillis and asking for increased responsibility, especially during a time where COVID19 is still spreading like wildfire, a person came forward (not from Malta) with his experience of chemsex.
It all started a bit more than a year ago. I’m a hairdresser and after changing the salon for a
better one with a better environment, I realised that I was tired of my job. It started to become extremely repetitive. I started drag shows two years ago. First, it was just for fun because I’m quite artistic and it was nice to mix make-up with hairstyles. Step by step, I improved and decided that I would try my luck in gay bars. The first time was during a Halloween party where the bar saw how my makeup was super well done and the owner decided to hire me to present their karaoke nights. I was inviting people to sing and I was dancing with them. It was fun and a nice way to spend a great night. Free drinks were given to me by the owner and by customers as a thank you. I was often drunk.
I was then really part of the bar and apart from the karaoke nights, I started to do some “real drag shows”. I had to come more often and I was there nearly every night, as a normal customer because they all became my friends and also for my shows.
It started to be hard to be full of energy after a full day at work, hungover from the nights before and this is where I started to buy drugs.
It was cocaine first to stay awake. I was invited to after-parties where there were more drugs, different drugs (GHB), more alcohol and it regularly ended up in group sex. It was new to me but I enjoyed it!
I started to call sick at the salon because I was still awake from the night before. I then started to just not show up at work and of course, I got fired. It was in a way what I was looking for because I was tired of my job but it also meant no more income. I was still getting a little something for my shows but it wasn’t much.
I also went to the GU clinic for a check-up and they informed me that I was HIV positive. Lockdown happened, so the bar had to close down. I started to feel lonely and contacted my group of friends from the parties. I didn’t want to stop group sex, I enjoyed it too much and I was also addicted to the drugs I was taking so I had to do something.
One of my friends from our group was living alone and we were going to his place for parties and chemsex. The issue is that I had no more money so I found a way to get some. I already had a 2000 EUR overdraft on my account but in my country, you can apply for a loan online without any specific reasons. This is what I did and I bought more drugs. I also started another drug (MMC) by injecting it in my veins and became very addicted to it.
My family was very worried because I was rarely home. I sometimes didn’t come back after a week or two and they didn’t know where I was. I also ignored them and didn’t want to listen to their opinion. They started to receive letters from the bank about my loans, letters from the unemployment office saying that I didn’t show up. They were opening them to see what it was going to be, again! Once it was a letter from the GU clinic about my treatment and this is how they found out that I’m HIV positive.
They started to investigate to see what I was doing, where I was, with who? All my friends they knew were not part of my life anymore because they were not into my new lifestyle at all. They informed my family about it, told them what I was doing but I didn’t mind it, my life was exciting! My family was very sad, crying a lot, I kept on receiving messages from them asking where I was when I wasn’t home for weeks but I just ignored them.
My best friend was also informed about my activities and got in touch with me. He didn’t judge me for what I was doing but he was also worried. He tried to find a way for me to get out of it. I admitted that I was regularly taking drugs but told him that I wasn’t addicted. I was in denial.
I finally went home for Christmas to spend it with my family and this is where we had a long conversation. They wanted me to be happy and healthy. I lost a lot of weight but I was happy about it. They mentioned rehab and I stormed out. Why should I go to rehab? I’m fine!
I went back to my friends but all of a sudden it wasn’t the same anymore. We were just taking drugs because we were addicted. Later on, I met another friend who used to be with us before but never came back and decided to get help. I wanted to follow his advice and stay with him to feel better. At the end of the day, I was unemployed, my family was getting sick because they were extremely worried, I had an overdraft of 10K on my bank account and I wasn’t happy anymore.
I decided to go back to my parents and stay there, far from this group of “friends”. I was only meeting my friend who was also in the process of getting rid of his addictions. I contacted a rehab who I had a meeting with to talk about my addictions and I’ll be meeting them again in a few weeks to see what the solutions are for me.
I had a few moments where I relapsed but I want to feel better. I want to enjoy my time with my good friends, reconnect with them, and be happy again. Once I’ll be cured, I’ll be looking for a new job and sort out my finances. I’m on the right track.
Where to find support
• For testing, book an appointment at the GU Clinic by calling +356 2545 7491, Monday to Friday between 7am and 4pm.
• For prevention and to find other important information about STIs including HIV, visit www.hivmalta.com.
• For support on STIs or drug use, you can get in touch with the Rainbow Support Service (RSS) on +356 79430006 (inc. Whatsapp). RSS is a free service run by a team of social workers and counsellors specialising in LGBTIQ+ issues and drug use. RSS can also be reached on email@example.com or via social media.