Interesting opinion piece in the Guardian today. I have to agree with many of the points, mainly that growing up gay messes with your head to one degree or another. More at the link below - probably best not to delve too deep into the comments as they seem pretty unsympathetic for the most part. Mental distress triggered by deep-rooted homophobia in society drives many LGBT people to abuse drink and drugs, and to harm themselves
It had been three years since I'd met up with my first boyfriend – let's call him Steven. When he walked into a Brixton pub in June, it was a shock. I'd first met him well over a decade ago, and back then he was sporty, a bit of a health freak: other than the usual occasional student alcohol binge, relatively strait-laced. This Steven had dilated pupils, red marks on his arms, and his head jerked erratically as he spoke manically. He was addicted to crystal meth, and had an abusive relationship with other drugs and alcohol.
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Steven's story is all too revealing about a silent health crisis afflicting gay men. The words “health crisis” in conjunction with “gay men” normally conjures up the HIV catastrophe that decimated the gay and bisexual community in the 1980s. In the developed world, HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, although the treatment can cause health complications, and in the UK an estimated 6,500 men who have sex with men live with undiagnosed infections. A far greater menace is mental distress – impossible to disentangle from a society riddled with homophobia – and the drug and alcohol abuse that can follow.
Steven has been clean for 66 days, has enthusiastically taken to treatment and volunteers at his local support group. But why – like so many gay men – did he succumb to addiction? When Steven came out, at the age of 15 years old, his parents drove him to a pseudo-clinic run by fundamentalist Christians to be cured of his homosexuality. But he doesn't speak with bitterness. “I know they love me and they were doing the best they could,” he says. “They didn't know what I needed, so they looked to their own experience, a culture that taught that if you were gay it was a disaster. You'd be lonely, you'd get Aids, you'd find life difficult. They felt they were trying to support me.”
The problem was far broader than his family, though. Coming out as a teenager in the early 00s meant almost inevitable bullying at school, a lack of awareness of where to find positive role models, and homophobic voices amplified by the media. “Taken together, it meant I was isolated and thought that I was the problem.” Internalising that shame at such a young age inflicts long-term damage – and explains much of his current turmoil. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/20/gay-men-hiv etc ...