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UK expert to speak at ACON forum on party drug use in the queer community

UK expert to speak at ACON forum on party drug use in the queer community

LAST UPDATED // Friday, 14 October 2016 15:12 Written by // Cec Busby

Dr Adam Bourne, a leading expert on the use of recreational drugs, will join a panel of local researchers, experts and community health representatives for a discussion forum on the LGBTI community’s relationship to drug culture.

Presented by ACON, Party Playgrounds: A Decade of Drugs In Gay Sydney – Changes, Impacts and What’s Next? will focus on drug use in the LGBT community exploring drug and sex related trends on the party scene.

Bourne, is the Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and will offer his expertise garnered from years of working within the London LGBTI party scene. Bourne will be joined by Clinical Director of St Vincent’s Alcohol and Drug Service Dr Nadine Ezard, Associate Professor Garrett Prestage from the Kirby’s HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program, research fellow at the Centre for Social Research in Health at UNSW Dr Toby Lea, and Associate Professor in Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Kane Race.

The forum will consider the longstanding history of drug use among LGBT people and how drug use in the community has transformed over the past decade in an effort to understand why drug use patterns have changed and whether there are likely to be further changes. Issues relating to sex, relationships and health will also be discussed.

Taking a harm minimisation approach, the forum aims to help the LGBT community to better understand the medical, sexual and social implications of drug use. The event also aims to improve the community’s capacity to reduce harm through increasing understanding of sex and sexual health issues relating to drug use as well as the stigma associated it.

Bourne suggested that observations from the London experience could be used to understand the current and changing situation within Sydney: “Over the last 10 years there have been some key changes in the types of drugs and frequency with which people use drugs in London. Technological advances including smart phone applications have been a vehicle for changes to how people meet for sex and where our communities use drugs.”

Dr Lea added that through community engagement, researchers have been able to better comprehend how trends and patterns of use have changed locally: “We have seen some significant changes in drug use patterns in Sydney; most notably the Gay Community Period Survey shows that gay and bisexual men are using drugs commonly used in social settings such as ecstasy and speed less and less, which may in part be due to changing ways of engaging with the LGBT community.”

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says the forum will provide an important opportunity to discuss a sensitive issue within the LGBT community:

“From the way our communities party to the way we manage our drug use, history has shown that LGBT people use drugs differently. One thing that has always existed is a culture of care and this is why it’s important to stay informed and to keep talking amongst ourselves as a community. That’s why this forum is so important.”

Party Playgrounds: A Decade of Drugs In Gay Sydney – Changes, Impacts and What’s Next? The Imperial Hotel, 35 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville. October 27, 7-9pm. Free. RSVP:


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and online editor of

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