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Good gay men don’t get “Messy”: Injecting drug use and gay community

Abstract

This paper reports on an ethnographic exploration of gay men who inject drugs in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, and demonstrates a further diversification of gay men’s lives, characterized previously as living in a “post-AIDS” era (Dowsett 1996a). It suggests that gay community plays a crucial part in some men’s accounts of drug use and shapes their experience of drug injection. Injection remains an abject act that the gay community is reticent to discuss, with consequences for gay men’s health, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, sex, and gay community. This reticence positions drug taking (particularly drug injection) as an individual issue and as a violation of practices of self-care that results both from gay men’s culture of drug use and from the experience of otherness reported by gay injectors. This paper explores emerging paradoxes for gay men in relation to sex, drugs, relationality, sociality, community, and health.

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Correspondence to Gary W. Dowsett.

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Dowsett, G.W., Wain, D. & Keys, D. Good gay men don’t get “Messy”: Injecting drug use and gay community. Sex Res Soc Policy 2, 22–36 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1525/srsp.2005.2.1.22

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Key words

  • injecting drug use
  • HIV/AIDS
  • hepatitis C
  • disease prevention