Chemsex: in drama and in life

Sexual health and wellbeing clinic 56 Dean Street has revolutionised sexual services and become a pioneer in LGBT care and HIV awareness. For this reason it was awarded the Attitude Community Award in 2015. Writer and Attitude contributor Patrick Cash has written a play, The Chemsex Monologues, exploring the secretive and often dangerous world of chemsex, an issue which the staff at 56 Dean Street know all too much about…

56 Dean Street, opened in 2009, is Europe’s busiest sexual health centre. 11,000 patients use its services each month, 7,000 of whom are gay men. Part of its success is in its pioneering design. Unlike the ‘Cinderella’ sexual health services of the past, shoved away at the back of the hospital near the chapel, the Dean Street clinic resembles a boutique hotel: sparkling, light-filled and modern.

staff pic

But, as many of us on the gay scene will know, however good something might look means little without a supporting personality. Leigh Chislett is the clinic manager who leads a hardworking, friendly staff, many of them LGBT themselves. Joe Phillips is his second-in-command. “At 56 Dean Street we’re proud to provide sexual health and HIV care to the gay community,” says Joe. “All our staff, including those that don’t identify as being part of the community, try to go the extra mile to care for and support the people we see.”

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The Chemsex Monologues and Patrick Cash

These extra miles include outreach services, like instant HIV testing in the basement of G-A-Y, or offering hepatitis vaccinations at Ku Bar. And specialist weekly clinics like CODE and CliniQ: the first devoted to helping men struggling with chemsex in the capital, and the second only sexual health service specifically for transgender people in the UK. There are exciting future developments at Dean Street, including the launch of a new PrEP clinic to make the HIV prevention drug available to the gay community at a close to cost price.

This article was written by Patrick Cash, and first appeared in Attitude magazine. Patrick has written the play The Chemsex Monologues, published by Oberon Books. The Chemsex Monologues will run at The King’s Head Theatre in London 15th – 20th Aug.

The Chemsex Monologues might well be the desperately needed conversation starter we’ve been waiting for’  DAZED

‘an extraordinary tapestry of pleasure and pain, woven together with wit and weight by a master wordsmith.’ Gay Times ★★★★★

‘An incredibly powerful, moving and funny piece of writing, superbly performed throughout.’  EQView

’70 minutes of gold standard theatre. The Chemsex Monologues will make you laugh, cry, think, love, hurt and hope.’ QX Magazine

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