A British man who claimed that taking pain medication had “made him gay” has admitted he may have misunderstood what happened to him.
Scott Purdy, 23, made headlines this week after he said that taking the drug Pregabalin had resulted in him losing interest in his girlfriend and developing an attraction for men.
Purdy start taking the medication earlier this year for nerve pain after he broke his foot in a go-karting accident. “I noticed my libido for women had gone and I was wanting male attention,” he said.
“I was with a girlfriend I had been with for around six months. I had never been interested in men. When I was younger I was a little bit curious but a couple of weeks after I started taking it I turned around and said I didn’t find her physically attractive anymore.”
Purdy said that when he stopped taking the pills his “desire for men just left” but he’s since decided to continue to use the medication.
“I’m very happy. I want to keep on taking it because it makes me feel happy about my sexuality. It’s made me feel very open. It’s liberating.”
The story became a hot topic for the British tabloids who suggested that the public should be “warned” about the apparent effects of the medication.
Experts have now debunked Purdy’s understanding of what happened to him. During an appearance on This Morning, Purdy said that when he was 16 or 17 he had a kissed another man but otherwise had no other homosexual feelings until he started taking the drugs.
Resident doctor Ranj Singh (who is himself gay) told Purdy that Pregabalin cannot turn people gay and explained that the pills had simply helped him open up to his true sexuality.
“Pregabalin is a medication that calms the activity of nerves down, which is why it is used in conditions like epilepsy, nerve pain disorders and also anxiety,” said Dr Ranj.
“For a small proportion of people you can get alteration in your sexual function, and that could be your desire or your ability to achieve an erection or have an orgasm. Most people tend to get a loss of libido, but some people can get the opposite, where they have heightened sexual desire.
“Either way, what it probably does is allow you to be able to express what was already there. My professional opinion would that all it has done is allow you to be your true self,” said Dr Ranj.
Purdy was slammed on social media and by some LGBT activists for misrepresenting sexuality and the coming out process.
Rosella Nicosia, mental health lead at the LGBT Foundation, told Indy100: “Many LGBT+ people struggle to accept their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. To state that painkiller medication has an altering effect [on] sexual orientation and/or gender identity is damaging for people who are going through what can be a very difficult and challenging time.”
After his TV appearance, Purdy acknowledged on Facebook that the painkillers are unlikely to have changed his sexual orientation, although he had genuinely believed that they did.
“They didn’t make me gay. I guess I was always gay but it was in my head subconsciously, without me realising it,” he said in a video.
“I am deeply sorry to all the people I’ve offended. I never wanted to do that. Especially, there are a lot of people who are gay that said I am basically… insulting the gay community. And that’s definitely not what I meant to do. I just wanted to tell everyone what I felt and what I thought was happening,” said Purdy.
Doctor Ranj later called for people to be more understanding of Purdy’s situation. “It’s not up to any of us to judge or belittle anyone’s coming-out journey,” he tweeted. “It is different for everyone, and each person has their own way of dealing with it (which may be out of their control). So let’s just be kind and supportive.”