Chemsex cultures: Subcultural reproduction and queer survival

Event status:

Headshot of Dr João Florêncio standing in front of a cast iron fence in front of a terraced valley with trees, houses and a river Please join us for a Research and Practice Seminar from Dr João Florêncio, exploring the subcultural significance of sexualised drug use amongst queer folk.

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Wednesday 17 March 2021 05:00 pm (Add to calendar)
Dr Renae Fomiatti
Presented by:
Dr João Florêncio
Type of Event:
Current Student: Undergraduate; Current Student: Postgraduate; Public Lecture; Seminar/Workshop/Training; Public

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“Chemsex” emerged in the 21st-century as the gay and bisexual male practice of taking drugs during sexual encounters in order to modulate pleasures, promote endurance, and expand the temporalities of sex. Yet, while the term has come to prominence at a historical juncture when the introduction of antiretroviral drugs, locative dating apps, online pornography, and gentrification all contributed to the popularisation and mediation of the practice, the history of sex on drugs among gay men is longer than that. In this article, I draw from that history, as well as from wider critical histories and anthropologies of drug use in order to explore the subcultural significance of sexualised drug use amongst queer folk. If, as Bourdieu argued, the hegemony of the ruling classes is sustained by forms of economic, social, and cultural capital accumulation and reproduction, I build on scholarship on subcultural and post-subcultural studies to frame chemsex as a practice of subcultural reproduction that connects contemporary gay and bisexual men across generations, ensuring the survival of their cultures and subjectivities. In so doing, I focus on chemsex’s potential as a life-affirming cultural practice, one that can not only ensure the symbolic and even material survival of the men who engage in it, but also of the subcultures and subcultural histories within which they locate themselves every time they decide to “party and play.”

About Dr João Florêncio

João Florêncio is Senior Lecturer in History of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter. A queer cultural theorist of the body and its visual cultures, his research investigates the ways in which the body has been produced, policed and contested as a site of creative world-making in modern and contemporary cultures. João's work has appeared in journals like Porn Studies, Sexualities, Performance Research, and Somatechnics, among others. His monograph Bareback Porn, Porous Masculinities, Queer Futures: The Ethics of Becoming-Pig was published by Routledge in 2020.

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La Trobe University



17th Sep 2021 10:48pm

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