Pride has become a time defined by love and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community (LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and the + is for everyone else who identifies in the community). For better or for worse, it has become a month long event with sporting and cultural bodies as well as small businesses and large, international corporations showing the rainbow flag and expressing their support for the LGBTQ+ community. The community has reached new heights of acceptance where being seen to be supportive of LGBTQ+ people is deemed to be profitable. This rainbow-tinted image of the community’s position in society is one that hides many of the problems our community still faces.
Aside from our community facing regular homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination, we experience a range of other issues in a manner different to our cisgender and heterosexual peers. The link between the LGBTQ+ community and drug use is incredibly evident when spending any amount of time in LGBTQ+ spaces. This link is also there in non-LGBTQ+ spaces, just go to any pub on a Saturday night or even your local Garda station. Drug use is present in all sections of society and prohibition has failed to have any tangible impact on drug use and addiction.
LGBTQ+ spaces are overwhelmingly places that are traditionally associated with alcohol consumption and illicit drug use. Gay bars and clubs were the original safe havens for our community and remain a place where LGBTQ+ people can come together and embrace their identity without having to fear the judgmental gaze of wider society. These spaces have changed and developed over time to what we see today in many city centres around the world. As time has gone on new spaces have been forged, notably with the more recent rise of Chemsex within the MSM (Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men) community specifically.