But when I'm with my friends at the gay bar, we don't have to worry about those conservative stares. And because we spend so much time there, and we're comfortable, we drink … and we keep drinking. We feel more social and extroverted with each drink, and a line of whatever substance just allows us to keep the party going. We then turn to the patio to chain-smoke a pack of cigarettes. Our entire weekends are littered with substance abuse. I'm no stranger to blowing lines of coke off the back of the toilet at a bar. The lights flash, the bass hits, and I attempt to choke down nasal drainage with a slew of vodka-based dollar drinks. I find myself dancing next to a beautiful girl and wiping my nose in paranoia, but it's clear from the way that her eyes roll back into her head that she is riding a similar high.
But that's coke, not heroin. Heroin isn't exactly a party drug, so I wondered how my ex girlfriend latched onto this hard-living sector of the LGBTQ community. As it turns out, the Center of Disease Control explains on their website that hard drug use — heroin included — is prevalent among the homosexual community, not only due to excessive social lifestyles, but also because of stigma associated with sexual orientation. Alcoholism and heavy drug use "can be a reaction to homophobia, discrimination, or violence they experienced due to their sexual orientation." Basically, we're self-medicating.
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A recent article in a Toledo newspaper asserted that the prevalence of heroin in the LGBTQ community is a result of its easy accessibility. The logic is, if it's so easy to score, how bad can it be?
Now, I know many heterosexuals, too, who have chosen to self-medicate with prescription pills or illegal substances. Turning to drugs to numb pain isn't solely a homosexual behavior. But the ridicule, rejection, and even disownment that gays and lesbians frequently endure just makes us that much more likely to fall down the rabbit hole. My ex certainly experienced a lifetime of fear and emotional trauma, as she struggled with coming out of the closet in her twenties.
Simply put, LGBTQ community members make great candidates for drug addicts and alcoholics. We're trying to escape the pain of coming out of the closet, as well as keep up with those in our social groups. Neither of these are excuses for substance abuse, but they certainly makes sense. Perhaps the continued acceptance of LGBTQ members will lower the number of victims and allow us to painlessly come out of the closet and seek social company in integrated situations. Until then, however, we will continue to self-medicate.
As for my ex, in the end, after months of withdrawals, a terrifying relapse and overdose, and anonymous groups (I was by her side for all of it), she chose her relationship with heroin over her relationship with me. It's amazing how much you grow up after finding your girlfriend hunched over your bed, not breathing, lying next to a spoon, with a cotton ball on her arm. I had became more of a parent than a girlfriend, as I desperately clung to her sobriety. I confiscated her phone and watched for two weeks, as dealer after dealer tried to get in contact with her.
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Now, I can put down a bottle and even decline a line, but, unfortunately, this is not always the case for those in both the heterosexual and LGBTQ communities. We have a long journey ahead of us.