Crime or culture? : Representations of chemsex in the British press and magazines aimed at GBTQ+ men

Heritage, Frazer and Baker, Paul (2022) Crime or culture? : Representations of chemsex in the British press and magazines aimed at GBTQ+ men. Critical Discourse Studies, 19 (4). pp. 435-453. ISSN 1740-5904

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Chemsex is a phenomenon in which typically gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and/or related communities of men (GBTQ+ men) take psychoactive drugs while having sex, often without a condom. The practice can lead to increased rates of HIV transmission, sexual assault, and in extreme cases murder. GBTQ+ men are already a stigmatised group so those who engage in chemsex face multiple stigmas. This study examines the ways that two types of media report on chemsex while negotiating these stigmas. We take a large data set of newspaper articles written for the general British public and a smaller data set of magazines aimed at GBTQ+ men to examine how chemsex is represented in the media. We find that the mainstream press focusses on extreme criminal cases involving chemsex, while the media aimed at GBTQ+ men focusses on counselling services and discuss chemsex in relation to gay culture. Chemsex is unlikely to go away, and so we address how information about it is conveyed in different media and call for more research in this area.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Critical Discourse Studies
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Discourse Studies on 19/04/2021, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? sexualitychemsexcorpus linguisticscritical discourse studiesmedia discourserepresentationspublic health communicationsocial sciences(all) ??
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Deposited On:
29 Mar 2021 09:30
Last Modified:
01 May 2024 23:30