A gay advocate believes the Kimoji glamorizes the meth epidemic in the gay community.
Collage by Callie Beusman. Photo by KAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images
A gay meth epidemic has rifled through the gay community, with men posting on the sex apps Grindr and Scruff looking to "party 'n play (PnP)," gay slang for taking meth and then fucking for hours, often during orgies. Thanks to Kim Kardashian's Kimoji app, there's now a Kardashian-branded emoji for the controversial acronym.
A recent update to Kimoji includes a peach heart that says, "PNP." It resembles a Sweethearts candy. Kardashian's publicist did not return Broadly's request for comment about whether the reality star intentionally added a kimoji that could stand for meth orgies, but in her app, "PNP" is featured alongside kimojis that say, "BTTM 4U," "GOOD DICK," "NEED THIRD," and "RAW"—all sex terms popular on Grindr.
Kimoji's PNP usage bears similarities to Grindr's T emoji. "T" stands for "Tina," a trendy nickname for crystal methamphetamine, and to promote Gaymoji, their new emojis, Grindr has posted high-fashion images of shirtless muscle men in designer clothes. Last week Grindr users accused the company of creating an emoji that glamorized the potentially lethal drug. Following the controversy, the T emoji disappeared from the app.
Meth use has occurred in the gay community for decades, and mainstream publications have covered the problem since the early 2000s. (New York magazine ran a cover story about the subject called "Crystal Ball" in 2002.)
But there has been a recent and distinct increase in gay males' meth intake. David Stuart, the director of Antidote, a London-based LGBTQ drug awareness organization, told VICE in 2013 that the number of drug abusers taking meth during sexual acts grew from 20 to 80 percent between 2011 and 2012. Between 2011 and 2014, gay meth usage doubled in New York City to 9.2 percent of gay male residents, according to the National Behavioral Surveillance Study. There are even Tumblr blogs that revolve around videos of gay men injecting meth and fucking.
Simon Leahy, the now sober founder of the popular Brooklyn drag festival Bushwig, worries Kimoji's PNP emoji will further the glamorization of a drug that has ruined thousands of gay lives. "Fire the meth queen on your team who is littering pop culture with meth slang to normalize a drug that destroys lives," Leahy says.
Gay people, of course, glamorized meth long before Kimoji, and app companies wouldn't create emojis if people weren't using cute nicknames for meth in the first place. "Observing [meth addicts] in rehab, it seems like a secret society, a bit like the Masons," Leahy notes. "There are clues to the treasure across the map, such as 'snowflake,' 'PnP,' and capital T's." As ex-meth user and HIV Forum NYC founder Dan Carlson told the Advocate in 2005, "Years from now we'll look back as gay men and be pretty despondent that we popularized and glamorized this drug."