Many people, regardless of orientation, have accused queer culture of being overly occupied with drugs and alcohol. As one of my friends said: “I don’t like it that most queer venues around tend to be throbby nightclubs, where there are people who are absolutely smashed on drugs or alcohol. A nice cafe/pub/bar with people having a couple of drinks whilst listening to music is a much better idea. Which is why I like Kamo over Family.”
What I’m interested about is whether this is nothing but a blatant stereotype, designed to keep us down by the white man, or if there is actually a grain of truth in the matter. I believe it is reasonable to assume either side, and normally I would write this out like a proper columnist would. But, since it’s Pride Week, and I’m too busy having a good time, I’m just going to hurl some reasons at you. Please be aware that as I write this, I am sitting in Our Bar, watching hot young lesbians dance and make out. I’m not joining in because I prefer to be the voyeur in the corner, scribbling notes furiously in the dark.
Possible reasons why the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol in the queer community is just a stereotype:
The huge number of piking lesbians/quiet geeky queers (very loosely speaking, of course) who aren’t fond of getting on the piss and going out on the town. There are so many of them that, surely, they at least would balance out the number of hard-partying homosexuals. So how did the stereotype come about? Perhaps, with queer people making up a small amount of the general population, any small number of loud, drunken, obnoxious, cackling fags/hags is going to seem much bigger than it really is.
It may just be uni student/young people culture, not queer culture. At times, I wonder if we here at UniQ drink a little too much, and indeed the topic of whether some of our events promote more alcohol consumption than is necessary has come up at meetings. But I thought about it, and then eventually decided: No. Primarily, we are all university students. We’re all young and invincible, and aching for some life experience. And drinking/popping/puffing is just a part of that.
While I’m here, I’d also like to point the finger at the general binge drinking culture of New Zealand (and maybe other places around the world). Although this doesn’t strictly apply to drugs, maybe binge drinking is a much wider problem than we’re willing to pay attention to (so we just think it’s us). Possible reasons why the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol in the queer community isn’t just a stereotype:
Queer people could feel a greater need to escape (and thus greater mental addiction to mind and body altering substances) due to the pressure of leading an “alternative lifestyle” and constantly going against the mainstream. This is a big, far-reaching reason that affects many things, including the amount of frivolous sex you have, and possibly self-destructive behaviours (like watching McLeod’s Daughters).
They might seem to take drugs and alcohol more because there are less queer people with children than straight people (proportionately speaking) and thus greater nightlife possibilities.
There could be peer pressure to do it from your childless friends who have been liberally exercising their right to do drugs and alcohol in order to escape the pressure of leading an “alternative lifestyle”. And, let’s face it, you don’t want to be abandoning the few queer friends you have. Otherwise, you’ll be all alone. I’d like to close with something else the aforementioned friend said, which I thought was highly relevant: “People have a need to find other queer people – for solidarity, for acceptance, to find understanding friends, to find partners. But is a nightclub the best place for that? Mostly, it’s just a good place to gyrate wildly.” That I wrote this column while under the influence (it’s the first time I’ve ever done it, I swear) is probably further evidence to this debate. But in what direction?
By the way, Transgender Awareness Day is 15 August. As an extension of that, there is going to be an awesomely interesting panel of transgendered people sharing stories and answering personal questions on Thursday 16 August, at 5pm in Meeting Room 1. You’ll learn the things you’ve always wanted to know about trans people, but were too afraid to ask. I promise you.