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5 common risks
at chemsex parties

and how to stay safe

James Kearslake
James Kearslake

Small business owner,
writer, trans, mental
health advocate

Table of Contents

Trigger warning

This article talks frankly about the high rates of drug abuse, overdose, rape and sexual harassment that happens at gay sex parties, and long-term effects including suicide. 

What is a chemsex party

Chemsex parties, also known as gay sex parties, PnP (party and play), or HnH (high and horny), are parties where groups of men have orgies while taking various drugs.

The parties can vary by design, for instance some are sober orgies, some orgies with just friends, and some are open sex parties promoted on platforms like Grindr where strangers can visit, do their thing, and then leave.

An orgy amongst friends, whether sober or drug induced, is a more controlled environment. Because of this our article will focus on chemsex parties between strangers, to help raise awareness within the community and educate people on staying safe when at chemsex parties.

a group of gay men in London laughing and flirting with one another before a chemsex

Where chemsex parties happen

Within the UK, although London and Manchester are known for their high numbers of chemsex parties owing to their positions as the gay capitals of the UK, chemsex parties can happen anywhere.

They also happen everywhere around the world. It was only in the December 2020 that a Hungarian MEP was arrested in Belgium along with 25 other men for breaking Belgian lockdown rules. Chemsex parties are widespread in the community,  irrespective of people’s upbringing, social class, colour, or career because they stem from a much deeper sense of loneliness that gay men commonly experience.

A quick look on Pornhub and you can find homemade recordings of sex parties around the world. 

Who goes to chemsex parties

Although chemsex parties are most common with gay men, they are also common with trans women and men. Chemsex parties are less common with gay and bi women but can still happen.

Because chemsex parties are a routine part of LGBTQ+ life, the parties attract people irrespective of their class, education or financial situation, or level within their career. It is not uncommon for people in senior positions of organisations to spend their weekends consuming sexually disinhibiting drugs while having bareback sex with strangers.

5 commons risks at chemsex parties

Many gay men feel they’re in control of themselves at chemsex parties and they manage the risk well. I’ve heard it time and time again.

Unfortunately when under the influence of drugs one’s assumed perception of control is far from reality. Chemsex parties can quickly spiral out of control and people find themselves in dangerous situations without having realised.

Chemsex parties pose a very real danger if we are not in control of our personal situation. These are the five most common risks people face at chemsex parties:

1. Drug abuse

Recreational drugs can be fun when we are in control of our consumption. Taking some MDMA on a night out and being in bed at a reasonable time limits the long-term, damaging effects of drug abuse. But when we go back to afterparties and continue consuming we’re putting our bodies through unnecessary exertion from a lack of sleep and water, unhealthy levels of toxins in our body, and no nutrition.

The longer the party lasts, the more drugs are needed to be consumed to experience new highs. 

Because of the high levels of drugs and alcohol consumed, and lack of sleep, we also became less aware of what drugs have been consumed so far. Losing track of our drug consumption quickly leads us to a place where we’re abusing our bodies with drugs.

People detach themselves from the term drug abuse however, because they attest to being in control of their drug consumption, even at weekend-long chemsex parties. This detachment forms the basis of denial of continued drug abuse and as a result many party goers become blind to the abuse they’re doing to their bodies.

2. Overdose

Those of you who lived through rise of GBL in the 2010’s will have seen countless men carried out of clubs by paramedics. Not a weekend passed where we didn’t hear of men dying from overdose at the main after hours night Beyond at AREA. Men were enjoying the new found delights of GBL’s increase to one’s sexual experience with its low-calorie, mild hangover benefits, and it’s uptake within the community was spreading fast.

Unfortunately, not enough people were educating themselves on the risks with GBL and the ability to overdose when consuming just 1ml more than the body could handle. Combined with alcohol and it becomes a lethal substance.

GBL depresses the airways, central nervous system, and heart rate. If someone goes under on GBL and is not monitored they may simply stop breathing, and die. It’s that simple.

An overdose on GBL doesn’t look like an overdose in the movies, it sometimes looks like the person has gone to sleep. I’ve heard countless stories of men going to sleep at afterparties and people only realised they’re dead hours later.

5 common risks at chemsex parties and how to stay safe | Gay chemsex parties | LGBTQ+ Drug Abuse | LGBTQ Wellness
a minor snippet 💜 of the extent of the problem

You only have to search GBL deaths gay chemsex party in Google and it will return countless stories of young, bright lives lost to the drug.

Because GBL has a strong euphoric and sexual affect on the body, it is a common drug of choice at chemsex parties. With this comes the risks of people overdosing at parties where nobody knows them, nobody is caring for them, or where others are too high to have noticed someone is overdosing. 

Remaining one of the greatest risks at chemsex parties, we urge everyone to only attend chemsex parties where friends can look out for you if you’re taking drugs. 

3. Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is commonplace in the LGBTQ+ community and often unchallenged and unreported. With our culture built on a history of social isolation and abuse, imprisonment, and murder, we have become accustomed to accepting a lesser standard for ourselves than our cisgender, heterosexual peers. Sexual harassment has therefore become a pervasive yet normalised part of LGBTQ+ society

it tells me how desperately alone he felt that he only had me to talk with in that moment while he continued socialising with the same people he thought raped him.

At chemsex parties the lines of acceptable behaviour quickly become blurred because each participants view of chemsex parties is different. Often more dominant figures at a party can be demanding for what they want, and newcomers may feel the pressure of living up to an expectation of the party.

However, no person has any control over what you choose to do or not do with your body. If you do not feel comfortable or safe, or have any desire to participate in something that is being asked of you, it is your right to say no.

If people at chemsex parties do not respect your right to say no to sex acts or drug consumption you should leave the party immediately. You should only participate in chemsex parties where your safety is respected by everyone there.

4. Rape

Unfortunately other’s safety and wellbeing is often not considered at these parties and rape is a common occurrence. I’ve spoken with countless men who have been raped at chemsex parties or who believe they were raped when they went under on drugs.

Unfortunately men who have gone under on drugs do not know clearly if they have been raped are unlikely to report it to the police. They have little evidence of who was at the party at the time, who may have raped them, or what may have happened.

Because the parties can be very transient, being promoted on Grindr with people coming and going throughout the period, it can be impossible to determine or identify possible assailants at the party at that time.

I recall a story of a man I knew from Manchester who moved to London shortly after me; he quickly fell into the chemsex scene. I spoke with him in a club early in the morning and he shared with me he went under in the bathtub and was sure he was raped, he woke up in a strange position with lube around his hole, and hurting inside for days. Everyone denied anything had been done to him.

The worst part? It was by the same people he was on a night out with as I was speaking with him.

Although this was a very heavy story to hear at 4AM from someone I hardly knew, it tells me how desperately alone he felt that he only had me to talk with in that moment while he continued socialising with the same people he thought raped him.

This story is not rare on the gay scene, and it is that loneliness that drives people to these extreme measures.

If you’ve been raped or suspect you’ve been raped, we’ve provided resources to help you report it and seek support.

5. HIV transmission

Chemsex parties are known for being major causes of HIV transmission within the gay community. The reasons for this are fourfold:

  1. The large amounts of drugs taken mean people lose their inhabitations and put themselves at greater risk of infection
  2. The culture around chemsex parties promotes unprotected sex for better enjoyment
  3. Drugs are often injected at chemsex parties, known as slamming, and needles are sometimes shared posing a great risk of transmission 
  4. There is a sub-culture within the chemsex scene where people seek out HIV infection at parties. The parties can be known as HIV parties, sex roulette parties, or the transference of HIV can be known as gift-giving or stealthing. It needs to be noted gift-giving is considered an agreement between two men that one wants to be infected with HIV by the other, whereas stealthing is someone attempting to infect another unknowingly and is sexual assault.

If you are going to attend chemsex parties, we urge you to please start PrEP immediately, take it daily, and get regular check ups at your local sexual health clinic.

How to stay safe at chemsex parties

Due to the complex layer of drug consumption, increased sexual activity, and reduced inhibitions, chemsex parties pose additional countless dangers not covered here. It’s therefore important to have decided your personal boundaries before ever attending a chemsex party, and recognising at a party when drugs may be affecting the durability of those boundaries.

To help you establish a strong set of boundaries and keep you safe at chemsex parties, we recommend observing the below safety measures:

  1. only go to parties with friends
  2. do not mix drugs with alcohol
  3. do not accept drugs from someone you don’t know
  4. do not accept a drink from someone you do not know
  5. if you’re taking GBL, only ever dose your own
  6. if you’re taking GBL, always time the next dose on your phone to prevent you dosing too early
  7. if you’re taking GBL, never mix it with alcohol
  8. always be fully loaded on PrEP before going to a party
  9. if your friend takes too much drugs, stay sober and stay with them
  10. if you feel yourself going under, call a friend or emergency services for emergency assistance
  11. if your friend wants to leave, leave with them
  12. do not leave a friend behind alone at a party
  13. if you’re top, wear a condom
  14. if you’re bottom, only sleep with tops willing to wear a condom
  15. if you’re bottom, do not let tops cum inside you
  16. if anything feels off about the situation or people, leave immediately

Irrespective of the situation you find yourself in it’s important to always remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, and know that not everyone has your best interests at heart. There are a lot of troubled and hurt souls within the LGBTQ+ community and that manifests in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, unhealthy sex practices, and thinking of only ourselves. Particularly if you’re a younger LGBTQ+ person, you need to know that not every person will care for your personal or sexual safety. 

If you feel scared or worried in any situation, call a friend, family member or the police immediately and remove yourself from the situation. You are your biggest priority. 

You can find other resources around reporting rape, getting help with drug addiction or addiction to chemsex parties, and seeking mental health support within the articles promoted below.

Reporting rape in the UK

You can use these resources if you’re considering reporting a rape that has happened to you, whether recently or in the past.

Rape Crisis England & Wales – a charity supporting rape survivors – the national website for policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Metropolitan Police – London’s police force and largest police force in the UK

Scotland Police – Scotland’s own National Rape Task Force and Rape Investigation Units

GOV.UK – central government’s advice on reporting rape, as well as support resources available in Scotland

Have you been raped by a police officer?

If you’ve been raped by a police officer in any force, you can use the Metropolitan Police’s new reporting hotline to report it. Although it was set up for reporting crimes by Metropolitan police officers, the force has said it will pass on all crimes by police officers to relevant forces across the country. 

Telephone number: 0800 085 000

Information can also be provided through Crimestoppers online.

Read next...
Chemsex in the community
what is it and why do we do it?

prolific rape in the LGBTQ+ community that nobody talks about
Drug abuse
its pervasiveness in queer culture

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