At last summer is bringing the heat, sweat and skimpy singlets into town, and with it comes a great season of parties and celebrations.
Mardi Gras, Midsumma, the list is endless, and while 99.9% of the time it all goes off without a hitch, there are occasionally some, usually avoidable, incidents.
Glen Swinburne and Dr Lucy Barnett bring you a few top tips to help keep this season of celebrations one to remember for all the good reasons…
Watch your friends
Now we’ve all probably seen those ads where the guy stops his drunk friend from doing something stupid, and it’s for good reason! Most of us have been drunk and said or done something out of character, and yes, it’s probably funny at the time to see your friends incoherently stumbling around Oxford St, but just remember they are your mates (well at least we hope!), so protect them.
If you see your friend getting themselves into a situation that you think they normally wouldn’t do sober, or that they’d find uncomfortable, intervene! These could be things like getting into fights, being pressured into going home with someone they wouldn’t normally or taking drugs. You go to Mardi Gras together, so make sure you make it home together as well. Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss Mardi Gras 2013, right?
OK, so it’d be useless to dwell on this topic incessantly. We’ve had the importance of safe sex drilled (good choice of wording, yes?) into us before we even knew what sex was. Regardless, I’m going to put on my fashionable pharmacist cap and refresh your knowledge.
STIs or sexually transmitted infections are spread (obviously) through sexual contact, and whilst some are relatively harmless and can be cured easily, a number are more serious and can result in chronic, incurable infections (namely the hepatitis C and HIV viruses). The importance of using protection is paramount in reducing the spread of these diseases in the community, and will reduce your risk of catching them. The only 100% fail proof protection is abstinence… yes, I know, impossible! So, the next best option is the correct use of condoms and vaginal dams every time you get it on with the hot babes you’re most definitely going to pull. Another thought, not only are you protecting yourself, you’re also reducing the disease burden on the community, helping us all live a healthier, happier life!
What do you mean homophobia? In Sydney? At Mardi Gras?? No way! So that’d be the perfect scenario, but unfortunately there are still some people who would be classed as homophobic. Now we aren’t saying that everyone who is homophobic is out to get you, as most are probably more afraid of you (rightfully so, gays can be scary!). But seriously, there are very few people that may go out of their way to make your big gay night out less than perfect, and most of the time ignoring them will be enough to have them go on their merrily ignorant way.
The best way to avoid being hassled is to travel with a few other people; avoid walking around the streets at night alone. This is actually a given for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, yet this is just as an extra warning. If you’re being hassled, don’t be afraid to seek help, and do it straight away! Chances are you won’t run into any trouble, and your party time will be nothing but perfect!
Ok so I never know what to say about drugs ‘drugs are bad….surprise!’ the thing is even though we keep hearing it we never seem to get the message. We all know that no gay man wants to have a dirty meth mouth anywhere near his… err, but don’t forget the other effects. Drugs can lead to poor decision making in terms of risk-taking behaviour. They can also have severe medical consequences. Never be afraid to call an ambulance if you need one. It’s better to face a bit of embarrassment and believe me we have seen it all before. Perhaps find out the closest hospital to where you are staying or where you’ll be in case a quick trip to the ED is warranted. Drugs hurt so many people in this world, they can cost so much more than the cash you hand over.
Alcohol in moderation
We all love to have a great time and that is what Australia’s best LGBTI celebrations are all about. Unfortunately some of the memories of just how good that great time was can get pretty clouded when one drinks too much alcohol. Tips are to alternate alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, eat while you are drinking, drink slowly and set yourself limits. We are all capable of drinking responsibly and think of how much hotter you are when you aren’t a slobbering slurring mess.
With all of the fun in the sun it’s easy to forget how important it is to keep hydrated. The simple rule is if you feel thirsty, drink. The problem is that a lot of what we drink isn’t really great for rehydrating us. Caffeine and alcohol won’t do you many favours. Keep it simple and first reach for the water.
Don’t forget that hydration is a little more complicated than just water. Most of the salts (electrolytes) that we need, we get from our diet but these can be lost in a range of ways including through sweating and vomiting. If you have been partying a little too hard you can use electrolyte replacement sports drinks to top up, get oral rehydration salts sachets from your pharmacy or chuck a teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar into 1L of water to make your own. It’s not Master Chef material but will do a world of good for your dried up, danced out body.
We’re all Aussies and stereotypically we should all be young and carefree, running around in the sun with babes and hot tans. Unfortunately if we run around with hot tans we pay the price. Skin cancer is a real risk and a serious one. Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Metastatic melanoma is a terrible way to die. But hey, lucky for us the Skin Cancer Council have made it easy and all we have to do to stay safe is follow a few ‘S’s (and get our tans out of a bottle).
Here are the SunSmart steps:
– Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
– Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen liberally at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors, after swimming or sweating.
– Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
– Seek shade.
– Slide on sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard.
– Stay sexy (ok that may not really be one but we thought it was important advice)
If you do happen to get sunburnt then it can leave you pretty sore and sorry for yourself. (It is essentially a type of radiation burn!). If you are sunburnt remember to protect your skin by minimising repeat sun exposure. You can take cool showers and use cold compresses to minimise the pain and prevent further burning. You can use a light moisturiser like aloe vera gel as soon as it is comfortable to do so, to stop your new layers of skin drying out. Avoid using the sunburn sprays with local anaesthetics in it, such as lignocaine (or anything ending in –caine) as these will actually delay healing.
Third-degree sunburn requires medical attention. You should see a doctor if you get severe blistering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain.
Take care of yourself
In general, simply be aware of what is going on, both with yourself and around you. Equip yourself with the knowledge to have an awesomely safe time partying this year.
Make sure this summer is full of great memories to take home. Enjoy the company of your mates, and make it a trip to remember for years to come so that when you’re old and decrepit you can reminisce over a game of bingo and maybe a glass of brandy or three…