The rush to risk when interrogating the relationship between methamphetamine use and sexual practice among gay and bisexual men Academic Article uri icon


  • Much research concerning drug use in the context of sexual activity among gay and bisexual men derives from public health scholarship. In this paper, we critically examine how the relationship between methamphetamine use and sexual risk practice is treated and understood in this body of research. While public health has made important contributions to establishing the link between methamphetamine use and sexual risk-taking, the precise nature of the relationship is not well defined. This creates space for ungrounded assumptions about methamphetamine use to take hold. We outline what appear to be two dominant interpretations of the methamphetamine/sexual practice relationship: the first proposes that methamphetamine has specific pharmacological properties which lead to sexual disinhibition, risky behaviour and poor health outcomes; the second proposes that methamphetamine attracts men who are already inclined toward highly sexualised interactions and risky practice, and that such men are likely to engage in these practices with or without drugs. We suggest that both interpretations are problematic in that they individualise and cast drug and sex practices as inherently risky and biopsychologically determined. We outline a more historically, socially and politically engaged way to understand methamphetamine use in the context of sexual activity by drawing on the concept of sex-based sociality and the ways in which gay and bisexual men may use methamphetamine and sex as social resources around which to build identities, establish relationships, participate in gay communities, and maximise pleasure while protecting themselves and others from harm.

publication date

  • 2018