The Gay Star News chemsex series investigated the way gay and bi men are having sex and taking drugs all around the world. It ran for two weeks in October 2017, but the microsite was added to after the initial burst of content.
I led the content creation and investigative journalism for the 20 articles and ten videos in the series, with the deputy editor David Hudson.
The ten-part video series went on to get over 1M views across Facebook and YouTube.
My journalism on this series included investigative pieces about the nature of the scene, SEO cornerstones on key advice and exclusive interviews with the Met Police’s sexual assault and chemsex specialists.
They told me they had been reading my stories to grow their understanding of the London scene – and how to deal with it.
In an exclusive admission, the Met Police admitted to me they got it wrong on the now infamous Stephen Port ‘Grindr’ serial killer murders – and their statistics revealed to me showed how chemsex attacks had doubled in less than three years.
Most importantly, the series spoke to and gave a platform to people who once or still do take part in chemsex.
We spoke to experts, addicts and ‘managing’ chemsex users who balanced weekends on drugs, with demanding day jobs.
We also surveyed people who do chemsex all over the world. This had never done before. For the first time, it gave us and the experts we were working with a unique insight, into the kind of activities and consequences on the scene. We developed this survey with the experts, so it could enhance their work and stand statistical tests.
It showed staggeringly high numbers of deaths, overdoses and mental health issues linked to the practice.
But it also destroyed myths around it being a practice done only at parties – with 3 in 10 of those who do it saying they take drugs at home, with porn to chase the same high.
This allowed those in the LGBT+ community who needed the space to talk about this growing trend, the opportunity to without fear of sensationalized headlines. However, it also allowed the community at large the chance to ask: ‘Is this trend one that will define us, like the HIV crisis did?’
It was the first ‘mini-series’ Gay Star News had ever done. It has since gone on to inspire other focuses and mini sites including on being Bi+ and equal marriage around the world.
Some of my exclusives during the series: