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Like many gay men, my social life involves some illicit substances, which play a significant place in queer nightlife and culture. This experience is universal among my friends: On the dance floor, the guy you’ve been pawing puts his thumb to your ear and shouts, “DO YOU WANT A MOLLY?” You nod, yes.
The night ahead will be mind-blowing or unnerving or both, depending on the roll. Some guys like uppers, some prefer downers, some like losing control, and others want to retain it. Despite the extensive history of drug use (and misuse) among queer people, some of us never touch mind-altering substances — but most will, at least in my experience. That’s fine — I’m not anti-drug and never will be, and anti-drug messages don’t help anyone be safe. So let’s harm reduction!
I mentioned drugs briefly in my recent sex-ed slideshow “17 Tips for Happier, Healthier Bottoming” in The Advocate last week for my Sexy Beast column. Here’s an excerpt:
Sex drugs are invariably part of our world, so it would be a disservice for me to say “Don’t do drugs” and let that be the end of it. I am not sweepingly anti-drug, although I believe certain substances — heroin, meth — should be avoided. Drugs come with a plethora of risks all on their own. They can lower your ability to fight infection, may diminish the efficacy of your antiretroviral medication, and can obviously cause severe addictions along with a slew of harmful side effects.
After the post ran, I received some messages on social from folks asking about drugs. If you want more tips on bottoming, read the full article. Here, I will expound more on sex drugs.
Most of my experience with drugs involves sex parties, dance parties, and extreme sex like fisting. When you’re a beginner, fisting and heavy kink play — everything that may be considered BDSM — should be done sober. Kink and BDSM are about pushing your mental and physical limits and playing with a wide range of sensations, both pleasurable and painful. Drugs can limit — and numb — your ability to detect pain, meaning you might push yourself too far and get injured. Once you know what you’re doing and are no longer a novice — which may take years — then (and only then) is it okay to start adding substances to your kinky sessions, and you should start with small doses.
Never play with a dominant who is drunk or high. Their ability to read your body language and your breathing will be impaired, and they may hurt you. In fisting and heavy ass play, a fucked-up top can put you in the hospital — you can be permanently injured and diminish (or eliminate) your ability to fist in the future. Fisting is amazing, but it’s also an extreme sex sport. Respect it.
Fisting is one of the most intense experiences you can have with someone. It’s my favorite fetish. Going a little slower and being sober, at least when you’re first learning how to get fisted, will not diminish the extraordinary feeling when he gets a hand in your butt. I won’t say drugs make no difference — they’re great fun, and they do make fisting easier as a bottom. Drugs can make any sex (even terrible sex) feel great. But you need to know and respect the risks. It’s easy to push your body too far, and I know many men — skilled and experienced fisters, all of them — who’ve gotten badly hurt and gone to the hospital because they got too high and went too hard.
The excellent book Fist Me! The Complete Guide To Fisting, by Stephan Niederwieser, is one I recommend for anyone with fisting aspirations. For further reading, try Trust: The Hand Book: A Guide to the Sensual and Spiritual Art of Handballing by Bert Herrman. The latter is more spiritual and esoteric, but it’s part of the canon of classic fisting literature that devotees read.
If you take drugs at a dance club or circuit party, as most everyone there will be doing, have someone present who you can check in with regularly. As with alcohol, never get in a car with a high driver behind the wheel. Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps are must-haves on your phone.
As far as specific drugs go, steer clear of injecting anything in your body — injection drugs invite Hep C infection, which can result in lifelong, chronic liver disease. And this goes without saying, but anything you inject — meth, heroin — is highly addictive and it’s easier to overdose on injection drugs.
Since the drug of the moment is crystal meth, I have to talk about it more in-depth as someone who’s struggled in my own way with this substance. The long-term effects of meth are worse than the short-term effects. Over time, the drug will rewire the ways your brain experiences pleasure, including sexual pleasure. This creates a dependency — a need to use meth in order to enjoy sex (and everything else that’s pleasurable). Long-term users often find that their only way to stay clean involves total celibacy. The drug is fun, but it’s not worth losing your sex life.
The other popular drug of the moment is G. There are different kinds of G, like GBL and GHB. Outside of recreational use, G is primarily used as an industrial cleaner. It’s highly potent and toxic and can dissolve plastic. So keep that in mind when putting it into your body.
Never combine GHB with alcohol — the results can be fatal and often are. This is a well-known fact that astoundingly many guys seem to not know or not heed. In general, it’s unwise to combine drugs. Some guys swear that certain drugs enhance each other, but remember this: you never know how drugs will interact because you never truly know what you’re taking. No drug is “pure.” Street drugs are cut with many different substances, some of which may not interact well with whatever you take. You increase your risk of fatal drug interaction when you combine them.
MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly, E, XTC, X) is an empathogenic stimulant that releases the brain’s natural stores of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters that regulate empathy and arousal. The result is unbridled horniness, intense feelings of empathy (which can lead to beautiful, intimate experiences), and typically some hallucinogenic effects — brighter colors, richer sounds, and a heightened sense of touch.
As I wrote in my slideshow, E/Molly will act as an accelerant (as will most stimulants), meaning that unless you have done a thorough douching and fasted beforehand, the drug will probably make you poop and require you to douche again before anal sex. But many guys don’t consider E a sex drug — it’s a dance floor favorite, and is considered by some to be a psychedelic.
My favorite drugs are the traditional psychedelics: magic mushrooms (psilocybin), acid, and so on. I do mushroom trips on a regular basis. They help with my depression, and they helped me unweave my unhealthy relationship with meth (I credit magic mushrooms with breaking my habit), and I believe they have made me a better person overall. But a psychedelic trip is an extreme experience that can just as easily be horrifying as well as blissful. I’ve had bad trips in which I truly thought I was going to die. You have to take these compounds seriously — and, if you can, have a guide or friend to help you through the powerful experiences they generate.
I cannot go into all the harm-reduction strategies necessary for a good psychedelic trip, so I’ll encourage you to read the book How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. There are countless websites and online communities dedicated to safe use and positive promotion of psychedelics that are worth exploring if you want to make them part of your life. Psychedelics are pretty harmless — you cannot overdose on them or develop an addiction to them — and some world cultures have considered them medicine for thousands of years. They can really help, but they are intense experiences that can (and do) occasionally send users on bad trips. Use caution.
Final bit: Harm reduction saves lives. Since people are going to do drugs no matter what anyone says, we can do away with the myth that telling people the dangers of certain drugs will decrease their use. But you can take steps to keep yourself — and your friends — safe. Drink plenty of water — even set reminders on your phone to hydrate. Always have an “exit strategy” — a way to safely leave wherever you are and get home, a person you can call, whatever. And enjoy drugs with friends — don’t use drugs alone.
Most importantly: Test your drugs! Street meth often contains fentanyl, which is deadly and results in hundreds of deaths across the United States every year. You can probably find testing kits at your local LGBTQ center or order them online.
If you see someone who looks like they might have done too much — if they’re dizzy, falling out, incoherent, pale, or look like they might pass out — you may need to call 911 or find someone working the event and tell them this person needs help immediately. People overdose at parties all the time. You can save a life.
It takes no time to check on someone. And if you don’t like drugs, keep your opinions to yourself, because shaming their usage is not helpful — getting your friends home safely is.