By Caden Ziegler
Web Content Contributor
“HosTing now” is a common screen name when scrolling through gay apps, and it takes a little information about the colloquial terms used by the LGBT+ community to dissect its meaning.
“Hosting” means that one is looking for a sexual partner and is willing to invite them over to their house. The capital T in any word (hosTing, goodTime, looking4T) has its own meaning as well. T stands for “Tina,” which stands for methamphetamines.
Drug use is a lot higher in the gay community, and gay and bisexual men are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines, according to Ron Stall, author of “Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States.”
Unfortunately, there are also a couple other indicators of meth use in someone’s profile, such as an ice cream emoji or a snowflake. While neither of those really make sense to me personally, it seems as though everyone knows exactly what it means.
PnP stands for “Party and Play,” which basically alludes to the same idea: come over, let’s do meth, and then have sex. Some of the effects of meth that may attract its users include euphoria, heightened focus, increased libido and stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain that make sex enjoyable.
Over time, I have seen an influx in these “secret” codes across the grids on Grindr and Scruff. I initially thought that within the past year it has become more prominent; however, the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study from the CDC shows that in areas like New York City, San Francisco and LA, meth use has been increasing since 2014.
One gay man I interviewed, who frequently did meth, said, “It has [become more popular]… It’s as bad as the opiate problem. Doesn’t get attention cause it’s harder to OD and not as many deaths.”
So, why is it becoming so much more prominent?
While the aforementioned sexual effects of the drug are a big contributor, we can’t escape the other social factors that may allure gay and bisexual men to meth.
Meth can lower sexual inhibition and decrease anxiety, making it easier for users to have gay sex without feeling shame that some parts of society may still push onto them. Of course, gay acceptance in culture has increased in some areas of the nation, but we would be lying to ourselves if we said everything was perfect.
A shocking bit of information that I heard time and time again while getting information about recovering and current users is that they love how skinny meth makes them. Amphetamines are known to decrease appetite, so users can get incredibly skinny.
This comment reveals that the issue is larger than just drug use, but rather about the pressures from gay culture to be stick thin. In gay culture, body figure and sexual appetite are themes I have noticed coming up time and time again. These pressures can produce a lot of shame around people who aren’t skinny or harbor internal homophobic feelings because of the environment they grew up in.
“An addict needs shame, like a man dying of thirst needs salt water,” said Terrence Real, internationally recognized therapist.
Many addiction researchers say that shame and addiction go hand-in-hand, and they don’t know which came first. So, if feelings of shame feed addiction, then it’s no wonder meth is on the incline in the LGBT+ society.
Confounding research also suggests that meth use greatly increases your chances of contracting HIV. While Truvada, a drug that greatly reduces the chance of contracting the virus, is available, not everyone is on it. When someone is high on meth, practicing safe sex is rarely on one’s mind because it shuts off the prefrontal cortex, creating a lack of impulse control.
HIV also can be spread through sharing needles, and taking meth intravenously is becoming more and more popular because it proves to have the quickest and long lasting effects.
One of the awful things about meth addiction is that it is incredibly hard to recover from. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to recover from, and after three years only about 12% of people have stayed clean.
Below are a few programs if you or someone you know is struggling with methamphetamine addiction.
Featured illustration by Caden Ziegler.