Category Archives: Engagement with medicine
Are you gay/bi/queer/lesbian/trans/non-binary/HIV-positive?
Do you live in NSW or Victoria, Australia?
Do you use any medications, drugs, or alcohol to transform any aspect of your sexual experience, everyday life, or gendered feelings?
Artwork courtesy The Design Embassy
If so, please consider participating in this important study about experiences of drug, medication and other substance use among LGBTQ we are conducting:
(click on the above for more information about the study)
Interviews are completely confidential and anonymous, last about an hour, can be conducted in a location convenient to you, and participants will be modestly reimbursed for their time.
You can register you interest here
and a recommendation …
This piece was written by the smart and switched-on Australian journalist Julia Baird, sister of former NSW Premier Mike Baird, the bloke who presided over intensified police drug dog operations that made us hate and fear the cops again, the one who went on with his cronies to become such fierce and thick upholders of the NSW lockout laws, which effectively obliterated social life in general and Sydney’s gay party culture in particular as we knew it…
Remember that guy?
Anyway, back to the good bit, Julia wrote this piece in 2004 ~ more than a decade before her brother Mike became Premier of NSW (the same year, it turns out, that internet sites for the first time became the most common way men looked for each other for sex; a circumstance strangely absent from the accounts the article engages with to work out what was changing, how, and why …but I say this in hindsight, more a retrospective thought to inform present activities/ activisms.
In Chemical Palace, Fiona McGregor articulates that sense in the late 90s that things were splintering, but what were the mechanisms of that splintering? It splintered in so many ways: including all those she names, for sure, and more ..
For guys especially, I think, one important source of this splintering was the new pleasures and possibilities and problems of digital cruising ..(I explore the impacts of digital culture on queer sexual sociability in my new book, The Gay Science (Routledge, 2017).
One thing I wonder about, re-reading this piece today, at any rate, is whether Mike ever read his sister’s piece, and if the did, what he thought of it? could he relate? how did it affect him? Could he even be bothered trying to get a sense of what it’s feeling out for, its significance, its meaning?
Because I guess in the back of my mind I’m wondering, Mike (if I may): did you ever have the pleasure of partying at Mardi Gras? with your sister? or whoever? did you enjoy it? make new friends? smile with someone? learn new dance moves? get a jiggle in your hips? have an adventure? have a chat with ….anyone? anything?
(I just remember how my sister and I loved these parties, went to them together, or separately with our friends and others, so many times, such awesome times, all of us dancing, playing, laughing, crying, moving, joking, smiling, zoning out, searching, encountering each other, beside ourselves, together…)
And Mike if you did get the pleasure, what did you think of it? What did it do for you? How did it change you? How could it not have??
Tell us, wherever you are, Mike Baird, what did you make of it? Do you remember? (because many of us do). What did you do to it? Where are they now?
I can’t help thinking, you see, Mike, had you actually got that pleasure … ( & now I’m just speculating I suppose) … what would Sydney feel like today? How would it differ? What would we be capable of? How would it feel? What might become of that history today – the good bits at least – & what supports do we need to build for these good bits to flourish, right now, all together, in the present?
It’s not at all a matter of wanting or thinking we can somehow just go back and live happily in some romanticised mid 1990 bubble. I don’t think anyone really thinks or wants that, anymore. Things have changed. We’ve moved on. New things are happening now, some better, some worse – including for new, previously excluded, identities and constituencies – that nobody could have imagined then. Creativity. Or, as Muriel Heslop’s father would say, ‘You can’t stop Progress’… (I beg to differ)
No, it’s more a matter of thinking about what this time did for us, what bits are worth carrying forward, what bits are worth affirming and remembering, what we want to let go of, what can’t we forget? . In other words, this isn’t a whinge, or some sort of nostalgic rant (ok maybe just a little bit of each/both to be honest), but actually meant this festive season, in the gayest of spirits as an entirely practical question:
How can we make what was nourishing and energising and important about those times, those spaces, those processes, those connections, those intimacies, those dynamisms, return/again ~ be renewed ~ newly happen?
I love Dion Kagan’s fresh new thinking on this question, by the way … he’s young and well-read and smart and lives in Melbourne and well, he definitely gets it. His book is even bathed in the inverted colours of Gay Christmas! 🖤❤️🖤
Perfect Summer Reading ☀️ Hopefully it’s out before Gay Christmas (by which I mean late February… what were you thinking??)
I became a Dr in Health Sexuality & Culture 13 years ago in the building pictured in the screenshot of my Facebook Profile above.
It was lovely to have the chance to go back there and visit for a workshop convened by Associate Professor Niamh Stephenson, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW this week.
Niamh recently published a book with our supervisor and mentor, Professor Sue Kippax, Socialising the Biomedical Turn in HIV Prevention, and the workshop was a nice way to celebrate it’s publication.
The campus looked so beautiful, more beautiful than I remember. And it was so nice to reconnect with colleagues working in the area, some of whom I’ve known for 2 decades (!!) to share what we are working on and how we are thinking these days. (Click here for pictures) 🌿
The other thing to say is that working in my field over the past 13 years just seems to have made me …gayer 🌸💗💕
You can now follow Gay Science Studios on Facebook ~ just click on my mug
I accepted an invitation from Zizi Papacharissi to contribute to a volume she is editing – The Networked Self ~ Love on the topic of gay social networking apps and websites.
My piece explores the sorts of solutions these devices propose to various, collectively felt, problems and asks how tech users, product developers and sexuality researchers might work together to construct better infrastructures for sex and sociability between men, among other users of these devices – with a specific focus on how various apps and websites have sought to incorporate and operationalise methods of HIV prevention.
Sexual networks such as Bareback Realtime, Grindr, Manhunt, Gaydar, Hornet and Scruff all feature in the discussion, which you can access by clicking on the title:
Abstract: Drawing on previous work in which I have approached digital sex as a marketplace and conceived hookup apps and online cruising sites as market devices, in this chapter I argue that problematization (Foucault 1995) is a useful analytic for conceiving the design of online dating and cruising devices, because tech developers tend to rely on some problematization of the existing sexual marketplace, as it is being enacted, in their efforts to improve the prospects of specific groups of participants, qualify their products and secure a niche in the digital marketplace. Drawing on a rare interview with the founder of BarebackRT.com (‘BBRT’), the world’s largest hookup site for men looking for other barebackers, I discuss how this site was conceived and designed in an attempt to address certain problems its developers perceived in the gay sexual marketplace as it was digitally and practically enacted at the time of the site’s conception. BBRT is an especially interesting example because it demonstrates how clinical indicators, among other personal and technical specifications, can emerge as criteria for discriminating between prospective partners, populating personal profiles and qualifying the self in the pursuit of sexual encounters. In this respect, BBRT stands as a fascinating example of how innovations in digital culture can eventuate from convergences between digital and clinical media and how such convergences effect differences in the pragmatic qualification of social networking applications. But it also stages the categories according to which members are required to present themselves online as provisional, historically situated, and available to experimentation and critical transformation.