Music. Dancing. Friends. Throngs of beautiful women surrounding us. A safe place where we can be ourselves, free from judgment and the penetrating eyes of straight people. Pride is a queer person’s dream! This year promises to be bigger and better than ever as we celebrate WorldPride 2019 | Stonewall 50 in NYC this June.
A little queer history for you: The Stonewall Riot (often referred to as just “Stonewall”) in 1969 was a tipping point for the LGBTQ community in the United States. Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, police raided The Stonewall Inn—a staple in the NYC’s underground gay community at the time. Fed up with the raids, the community fought back against the police this time, inciting what would go down in history as the Stonewall Riots. Our community came together to rise up and fight for our right to have a safe space to come together.
Over time, the anniversary of Stonewall morphed into a “Gay Pride Day” held in the month of June in cities throughout the country. Gay Pride Day soon grew into a series of events that we now know and love. It typically takes place over a week or weekend (depending on where you live) that includes parades, parties, dances, workshops, concerts and more.
And THIS year, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, New York City will be welcoming LGBTQ folks from around the globe for what is sure to be the world’s largest Pride to date: WorldPride 2019 | Stonewall 50!
For many of us, Pride means partying. Getting wasted and Pride seem to go together like butches and Old Spice. So, for those of us who live with substance use disorder or addiction issues and are now living sober, Pride can be a major trigger.
The first year I stopped drinking, I avoided Pride entirely. I knew that my sobriety was more important than any party I wanted to attend, no matter how many sexy women would be there. I also knew that I wasn’t sober long enough to trust my own inner strength and attend the party without drinking, particularly if I ran into one of my exes. And you just know that always happens at Pride! So, with a major case of FOMO and a heavy heart, I skipped out on Pride that year. My friends sent me texts with updates and pictures of their fun, and, eventually, those texts became nearly intelligible as they got more wasted. While I was grateful to not have broken my sobriety that weekend, I definitely felt like I was missing out on the chance to not feel like a minority once a year.
As it turns out, I wasn’t alone. Statistics show that within the LGBTQ community, rates of alcoholism and substance use disorder are higher than the general population. That’s a lot of us who are missing out on Pride fun if we avoid situations that challenge our recovery and sobriety. Fortunately, there’s a group in New York that is trying to change things for those who are living sober! Gay & Sober is a nonprofit organization that is working hard to raise awareness about life in recovery—specifically for those in the LGBTQ community. They want to show others that it is absolutely possible to be happy and free in life—and at Pride—while staying sober.
Gay & Sober got its start in 2009 as a Facebook group and has since grown into the largest group of its kind on the social network. The group eventually launched a 3-day men’s conference in June to offer the LGBTQ community a chance to party without worrying about being surrounded by drugs and alcohol. Now, Gay & Sober has become so successful and popular — they are throwing the first and only official sober, alcohol-free, adult event for the whole LGBTQ community at WorldPride | Stonewall 50!
“For many people like me, Pride Weekend can be a triggering and a challenging time to keep your sobriety,” Parker tells GO. “We started this because there was nothing fun or really exciting for sober people on Pride Weekend in New York! What wound up developing has surpassed all of my initial expectations for the events. The end result is a weekend of unbridled joy with people from all over the world. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve helped bring some light to a normally dark subject, “Gay & Sober’s Executive Director Christian Parker tells GO.
Are you ready to celebrate your fabulousness with tens of thousands of other queers all while staying sober? Join Gay & Sober in NYC this year; all LGBTQ folks and allies are welcome! You’ve got two different Gay & Sober events to choose from.
March in the Pride parade! Join Gay & Sober on Sunday, June 30th with DJ Joe Ross rockin’ the Gay & Sober double-decker float! All queers in recovery are encouraged to participate in the march, but you’ll need to make sure to register early to grab your spot. The bus/float has limited capacity, and folks with limited mobility are given first dibs at a spot on the bus. Otherwise, you’re free to walk alongside the float with your fellow gays (and allies) in recovery!
More of a party person? At night, you can get your dance on at the Dance on the River. This high-energy, fun, and sober LGBTQ cruise takes place on the Hudson River and is open to all LGBTQ folks and allies ages 12 and up. Tickets are currently sold out, but you can still meet follow sober queers at the March on Sunday!
If you’re not in NYC but are still interested in having some fun at Pride while staying sober, reach out to Gay & Sober to chat about how you can help start an event in your city. Or, consider contacting your local Pride organizers to inquire about sober events. While many Pride festivals are sponsored by alcohol companies, more cities are becoming aware of the need to provide a safe, sober space for those who are living free of substances but don’t want to miss out on the fun.
The purpose of Pride is to come together and connect with your fellow LGBTQ community members in a fun, safe space. It’s even better when you stay sober for the event(s) because you can take a moment to look at how vast, diverse, and beautiful our community is, all through sober, clear eyes!
The best part of being sober at Pride? You’ll remember all the fun you had with a clear, hangover-free head! What more could you ask for?
Let’s get our Sober Pride fun on, lovelies. See you there! For more information about Gay & Sober Pride events and ticketing, visit www.gayandsober.org/events.