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Crime or culture?: Representations of chemsex in the British press and magazines aimed at GBTQ+ men

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Critical Discourse Studies
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Chemsex is a phenomenon in which typically gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and/or related communities of men (GBTQ+ men) take psychoactive drugs while having sex, often without a condom. The practice can lead to increased rates of HIV transmission, sexual assault, and in extreme cases murder. GBTQ+ men are already a stigmatised group so those who engage in chemsex face multiple stigmas. This study examines the ways that two types of media report
on chemsex while negotiating these stigmas. We take a large data set of newspaper articles written for the general British public and a smaller data set of magazines aimed at GBTQ+ men to examine how chemsex is represented in the media. We find that the mainstream press focusses on extreme criminal cases involving chemsex, while the media aimed at GBTQ+ men focusses on counselling services and discuss chemsex in relation to gay culture. Chemsex is unlikely to go away, and so we address how information about it is conveyed in different media and call for more research in this area.