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The Life of the Party

by Juanita MORE!

Juanita MORE! Enjoying a cocktail with a friend at MORE/Jones. photo: Shot in the City
Juanita MORE! Enjoying a cocktail with a friend at MORE/Jones. photo: Shot in the City  

When I first moved to San Francisco, one of my roommates sold a little coke and meth to help him make some extra cash while working his way through college. By that time, I had already made it through school as a devoted pot smoker who was well on their way to being an amazing vodka drinker.

My family loved to party. My parents were doing it before they met each other, and it played a part of their relationship as a married couple. Specifically, they were drinkers. After my mom passed, I asked one of my aunts what mom was like in high school. She said that she was everything: popular, class president, even head cheerleader. Also, then laughing, she told me a story about the time they drove down to San Jose to see a James Brown concert. She said, in the middle of the show my underage mom pulled a bottle of whiskey from her purse and passed it around. Yeah, that was my mom. I guess you could say that is also me.

I remember one particular party at our house when I was growing up. When my parents, aunts, and uncles sent my cousins and myself to bed, everyone fell asleep but me. The music was playing loud and at one point Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" came on the record player. I cracked open the bedroom door to see what was going on. The living room was filled with weed smoke, and everyone was laughing and dancing like there was no tomorrow. (They even had a strobe light. Get it, mom and dad.) My parents partied hard, and they always made it look like a lot of fun.

Growing up as a young queer kid, pre-internet, the only place queers got together was at the bars. That was the safe place. I wasn't old enough to get into them then, but guess where I was hanging out? In the parking lot of those bars. Bless.

My first apartment in San Francisco was on Taylor Street at Pacific, where my roommates and I lived in the basement of the three-story walk-up. All I had was a mattress on the floor and cardboard box as a nightstand. I bought expensive shoes from Wilkes Bashford and tipped out a friend to give me a cute haircut.

So, the meth and coke I "borrowed" from my roommate helped me get through that first year in the city. He thought he had a good hiding place for it, but when you are young and broke, and it's the weekend—you can always find the drugs. We went to all of the underground parties in abandoned warehouses, nightclubs like Studio West, Trocadero Transfer, and The EndUp. I had one of my first realizations that drugs weren't 'everything' for me when, after a long weekend of meth use, I took a hit of acid at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and realized it was indeed time for me to go.

I look back now and consider my substance use at the time as being more about fitting in with my peers, rather than my love of getting high. It didn't take me long to see that the people around me were more invested in the drugs and the scene than they were invested in me, and I was smart enough to walk away without any judgment.

The same party favors that were part of my life then are still around now: meth, coke, G, molly, ketamine, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I still like to get high, and I drink more than my fair share on occasion too. I also understand that some of these things help people cope and exist (In this crazy world an outlet is a necessary thing). And, sometimes all those things can be fun—until they're not.

These days I'm witnessing a big rush of GHB and ketamine use in our community. If I could insert the emoji of the girl with her hands in the air, I would. Because I don't get it. However, I do get it when someone falls out. "Falling out" is the casual reference to someone who has lost consciousness because of the amount or combination of drugs in their system.

I've lost many people I love to drugs in this lifetime, and I'm not talking about them leaving this earth. I've tried to help on many occasions; but in the end, realized that my love was never as strong as the high of some drugs.

For quite a few years now, GHB use has run rampant through our community. To the point, that big events are having to make up to a dozen medic calls in one night for those that have fallen out. Most times, your friends stay on the dance floor while you make the trip in the back of an ambulance to the hospital.

In San Francisco, specific support programs for GHB—both medically and socially—are very few and far between. Since GHB dependence and abuse are a somewhat new phenomenon here, most everyone is playing catch up. Most places won't accept you unless you are also an alcoholic or meth user. Almost always, GHB abuse leads to addiction, which is never a fun place to be.

There are quite a few places in San Francisco where you can get help for drug and alcohol abuse or addiction. Most have a long waiting list, and I am seeing more and more people go to other cities for help. The SF LGBT Center has put together a list of local therapists and support groups. The programs listed in this area are community listings and are not endorsed by or connected to the Center. They encourage the community to conduct their own research and review, before contacting any therapist listed there.

We are living in a time when our rights to be queer are being quickly chipped away. And our community is already at a higher risk of substance abuse compared to the general population. I don't have the magic solution here, and am a user so I'm not pointing a finger. I am merely saying that I care about you and I have big enough tits to call you out when I think you are overdoing it. We need to have each other's backs to ensure that as a community we are healthy, happy and successful.

http://www.juanitamore.com

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