If you are a gay man, and you have been on any hookup app (especially Grindr), you have probably seen them. The random capital T’s in profiles.
For those that do not know, a capital T in a profile is a way to let people know that you do “Tina”, also known as crystal meth. Meth is a very popular drug in the gay community, but I can tell from shows like “Breaking Bad” that it has also gone very mainstream outside of the gay community.
Crystal meth is a stimulant drug that increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine that is released into the brain. Meth causes feelings of euphoria and confidence. It can also increase sexual performance and bring on some intense sexual desire.
Here are also some interesting historical facts about meth:
- In 1887, meth (amphetamine) was first synthesized by a German pharmacologist
- In 1919, methamphetamine was first created in Japan
- Meth was used in WWII by German, US, and Japanese armies to help treat battle fatigue due to its energizing and anti-depressant properties
I read that meth became the most widely used illicit drug in the gay community in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In 2000 I turned 18, so that was right during my “coming of age” time as a gay man. I remember meth being all around me and people talking about “Tina”.
It was around that time that I had started getting into drugs myself. My home life wasn’t great then. My family and I were at odds about me being gay. I hated being at home and for some time lived with friends instead. I needed the escape. Life was hard being estranged from my own family, especially that at age. I found “family” in new people that I befriended at the different bars/clubs. Through them, I got into ecstasy and cocaine. I also dabbled in other drugs like poppers, GHB, special K, etc.
I learned a lot about the gay community and the human psyche through these colorful characters of my past. I got into some real shit with them. I have stories that include weekend drug binges, bath houses, and run in’s with the law. If you want to know more about that, let me know. That is a whole blog/vlog post in itself.
During that time, I also did meth. Yup, that’s right. I have done meth before. I was hanging out with a friend (at the time) over Memorial Day weekend when I was 19 and he introduced it to me. To be honest, because I had never done meth before, I actually had no idea what it was at the time. I just knew that I liked having a good time and feeling good, and that’s what he promised. We filled up the pipe and he taught me how to smoke it. We spent the entire weekend holed up in his apartment smoking meth.
It was a much different drug-induced experience than any of the other drugs I had been taking. This wasn’t an outright kind of high or an intense feeling like rolling. I just felt really good. Good in who I am as a person and confident. It did also make me horny as fuck too.
At some point in my druggie wonderland, I realized I was starting to look like a mess (someone called me out on it) and my life had fallen to shit because of the drugs and I was doing things I never thought I would do. I knew it had to stop. I could see where I was headed and I didn’t want to become “that.” I lied to the entire “family” of avid drug users I made and told them I was moving back to New York. This was so they wouldn’t look for me or even contact me (I didn’t have a cell phone back then).
The moral of that incredibly shortened story is that I went through it for some time and found my way out of it. I dropped off the face of the Earth for quite some time.
I have integrated back into the gay community since then and am shocked to learn that gay men are still doing meth and other drugs. I think it is because I remember meth as part of the community all those years ago that I am somewhat surprised that it’s still a thing for us. I guess just because I removed myself from the situation doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
I reflect back on those experiences from time to time. I like to ask myself “Why?” Why did I feel the need to party then?
I want to very clear on what I am about to say next: I am not here to pass judgement on anyone for whatever they do.
What I would like to focus on, and something I can relate to, is WHY we are still doing drugs so heavily as a community and HOW we can take our lives back from drugs. Or is this just part of a stereotype?
It may go without saying, but to just reiterate, being gay is hard. No, wait. Being gay isn’t hard. Coming out is hard. Coming out to people who judge you or let you know that their love is, in fact, conditional is fucking devastating. Rejection is a real experience. It makes sense to me why gay men get into drugs. It numbs a pain or fills a hole in the soul left by the people who are supposed to love us and the society that is supposed to have our back.
Stereotypically, gay men are seen as partiers and most people associate gay men with drug use. This is a thing that has existed for a quite some time. So it makes me think, as gay men, have we been conditioned to believe that we’re supposed to live these stereotypes? Are we just expected to have drugs and partying as part of our culture? It still runs rampant on these apps like Scruff and Grindr. Thinking about how social media has brought the gay community together, those apps have also helped meth users find other meth users to sell/buy/party with. I would just hate to see our community “stuck” in this place where young men “coming of age” like I did get pulled into a life that wasn’t for them. It is a cycle that just doesn’t seem like it’s breaking.
My thought here is that we need to revisit how we are treating the LGBT community. Drug use and mental illness is high with our group, and it’s due to the environment and attitudes around us. Just take a look at the news and how the government fights to discriminate against us, to support companies/individuals that want to exercise their “religious freedom” to discriminate against us, or ignores the violence against gay and transgender people (especially trans people of color). Even in the LGBT community, the sexism and racism that exists within our group also greatly impacts why we are the way we are today.
It’s time for everyone to challenge their own way of thinking, whether you are LGBT or not. Challenge the things your parents taught you about LGBT people. Challenge the views of your religious institutions on LGBT. Check the biases you have against LGBT people. Ask yourself “Why do I think this about LGBT people? Where does it come from?” If you have a friend who is LGBT, and your relationship is good, leverage them and ask them clarifying questions instead of making assumptions.
If you do not have LGBT friends that you know of, you have me. While I am not a representative of the entire LGBT community, you have at least one person who is here to help with your questions or point you in the right direction.
Harvard created an assessment that helps determine your unconscious bias. You can take their assessment to see what your bias looks like toward gay/straight people. Check it out by click this link:
Regardless of your result, ask yourself “Why?” This is where change begins.