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Article by Johnny Allain-Labon - Campaigns Rep on the LGBT+ Committee.

Last week the LGBT+ hosted a different kind of event: a panel discussion on the effects of addiction within the LBGT+ community. Speakers included Matthew Todd, former editor of Attitude magazine, and David Stuart, Chemsex lead at 56 Dean Street. People with experience of drug and alcohol addiction, and compulsive eating or sexual behaviour, also discussed how their addiction developed and their progress in recovery from it. Over forty people were in the audience, and we would like to thank everyone who came.

It was striking to hear about how easy it is for people to cope with the trauma of growing up and living as an LGBT+ person by turning to addiction: blacking out on alcohol, excessive eating, or numbing their feelings with sex and drugs. Although, as a question from the audience raised, alcohol can make people feel more relaxed and welcome in a social setting, too much of the queer scene focuses solely on drinking. People can easily lose control, unable to stop at just a few drinks. This is especially true for students, for whom drinking heavily and frequently can become second nature.

There was, however, a brighter side to the discussion. The importance of loving self care, of prioritising mental health and self-esteem above instantaneous gratification, was addressed repeatedly. So too, was the need for kinder queer spaces, which focus on our shared humanity, rather than pitting us against each other in a battle to be the hottest, baddest bitch on the scene. We certainly heard some great ideas for our future social nights, and plans were discussed to have more frequent conversations about our mental health, and how it relates to our identities. I’m looking forward working on both in the future!

[Check out the audio recording of the panel here:]