Crystal, pleasure and sex between men

Crystal methamphetamine (aka ice, crystal, tina, meth) has had a particular impact on the gay community, where it is often used in sexual contexts such as dance parties, sex parties, sex-on-premises venues and saunas, and in private groups. In this study, we take a social practice approach to examining gay men’s crystal use. We draw on the concept of sex-based sociality – a unique pattern of social relations within the gay community whereby sex and drug taking can be part of building belonging and connectedness. We draw on this concept to develop more nuanced and relevant understandings about the ways crystal is used, the pleasures and risks associated with its use, and the everyday strategies men may employ to reduce these risks.

The specific aims of the study are:

  • To examine gay men’s patterns of crystal use and sex practices
  • To document how men protect themselves in situations of drug use and sex
  • To investigate how drug use and sex contribute to social relationships and identities for gay men.

The project includes a knowledge building phase, which will consist of interviews with 90 gay men and 30 key informants across four Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. This will be followed by a knowledge translation phase, comprising workshops and focus groups to identify innovative, feasible and acceptable harm reduction strategies.

The project will start data collection in mid-2017.

Detailed project description (PDF) [396 Kb]

Participate in the study

Related publications from the project group:

Bryant J, Hopwood M, Dowsett G.W., Aggleton P, Holt M, Lea T, Drysdale K, Treloar C (2018). The rush to risk when interrogating the relationship between methamphetamine use and sexual practice among gay and bisexual men. International Journal of Drug Policy.

Dowsett, G.W., et al. (2005). Good gay men don’t get “messy”: Injecting drug use and gay community. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 2(2): 22-36.

Hopwood, M., Cama, E., & Treloar, C. (2016). Methamphetamine use among men who have sex with men in Australia: A literature review. Sydney: Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Australia.

Hopwood, M., Lea T., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Multiple strategies are required to address the information and support needs of gay and bisexual men with hepatitis C in Australia. Journal of Public Health, 38 (1): 156-162.

Hopwood, M., Lea, T., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Drug, sex and sociality: Factors associated with the recent sharing of injecting equipment among gay and bisexual men in Australia. International Journal of Drug Policy. 26(2), 210-213.

Hopwood, M., & Treloar, C. (2013). International policies to reduce illicit drug-related harm and illicit drug use. In P. Miller (Ed.), Interventions for Addiction: Comprehensive Addictive Behaviors and Disorders, Volume 3 (pp. 735-743), Elsevier Inc. San Diego: Academic Press.

Lea, T. Hopwood, M., & Aggleton, P. (2015). Hepatitis C knowledge among gay and other homosexually active men in Australia. Drug and Alcohol Review, 35(4), 477–483.

Lea, T., Mao, L., Hopwood, M., Prestage, G., Zablotska, I., de Wit, J., & Holt, M. (2016). Methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual men in Australia: trends in recent and regular use from the Gay Community Periodic Surveys. International Journal of Drug Policy, 29 (1), 66-72.

Lea, T., Mao, L., Bath, N., Prestage, G., Zablotska, I., de Wit, J. & Holt, M. (2013). Injecting drug use among gay and bisexual men in Sydney: prevalence and associations with sexual risk practices and HIV and hepatitis C infection. AIDS & Behavior, 17(4), 1344-1351.

Lea, T., Kolstee, J., Lambert, S., Ness, R., Hannan, S., & Holt, M. (2017). Methamphetamine treatment outcomes among clients attending a treatment service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. PLOS ONE, 12(2): e0172560.

Southgate, E., & Hopwood, M. (1999). Mardi Gras says ‘be drug free’: Accounting for resistance, pleasure and the demand for illicit drugs. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 3, 303-316.

Southgate, E., & Hopwood, M. (2001). The role of folk pharmacology and lay experts in harm reduction: Sydney gay drug using networks. International Journal of Drug Policy, 12, 321-335.