In sobriety, you might experience a feeling of isolation and loneliness that seems to take over your life. I know I did. It’s most intense during early sobriety because you’re growing and changing at such a rapid pace that your old friends or family can’t quite keep up. But you haven’t had time to find new people yet.

When you’re queer and sober, this isolation can be magnified. Significantly. Bars are a huge part of queer culture. In early sobriety, these can, at best, be tricky to navigate and, at worst, be dangerous temptations. Although there are certainly many recovery meetings that cater to queer and trans folk, not everyone’s path includes meetings. If you’re one of those people, making connections with other queer and sober folks can seem impossible.

Early in my sobriety, I had a fantastic community where I saw people going to events and workshops, really creating robust connections. I attended some of the events but I never felt like they were for me. Which makes sense, because they weren’t.

As an agender lesbian, I wasn’t their target audience— it would stand to reason that I wouldn’t feel like I belonged. That’s why I’ve had to find community that really reflects who I am in my own way. Building community is never-ending work, and part of that means making up the rules as you go along. That’s what I’m doing, and I’m happy with fine-tuning for the rest of my life if that means I’m finding my people along the way

Use Social Media to Find Other Queer and Sober Folks

It’s popular to shit on social media as a place where people indulge their narcissism. But I’ve found that it can be an amazing tool for marginalized folks and subcultures to connect with other queer and sober folks.

In 2015, before I began my sobriety journey in earnest, I poked around Instagram sobriety hashtags and found a few accounts that seemed to resonate with me  These accounts were the base of the community I would become part of the following year.

View this post on Instagram

The first thing that came across my feed this morning was @ericafiguresitout story that made it to popsugar mag. Damn it! I was inspired. I took notice. Like maybe I can do it to. So now I’m thinking…can we post more of the proof? Proof isn’t words. It’s the results. Post about the results. What are you doing in your life since you got sober? Let’s get to the tootsie roll truth. List some things you’ve accomplished since getting sober below. Maybe even post about them. And congrats @ericafiguresitout. I’m uber happy for you☺️ . . . . . . . #soberlife #soberaf #soberissexy #soberwarrior #sobriety #recoveryispossible #recoveryisworthit #addictionrecovery #inspireothers #helpothers #motivation #inspiration #howididit #ineedtoquitdrinking #alcoholicproblems #addictionrecover #recoveroutloud

A post shared by Shari Hampton (@servedupsober) on

View this post on Instagram

I’ve pinched myself more than once since moving in here. Like, this is MY place! I get to pay rent! I get to make sure I manage my money in the right ways. I’m not crashing at some random place anymore. When I came back home after getting clean & sober, I promised myself the next move I’d be running TO something, not FROM. I did. I get to share this with a girl I adore & who loves AND likes me – how awesome! If we let go, accept life on life’s terms, & trust that a power greater than ourselves unfailingly has us, there’s no stopping us. Hang in there. . . . . . . . . . #sober #soberaf #cleanandsober #aa #na #recovery #odaat #promises #girlswithtattoos #girlswholikegirls #myhome #nofilter #iphonex #california #weareallhuman #me

A post shared by Lindsey (@kantyoudigit) on

A hallmark of the LGBTQIA+ community is being ahead of its time using the internet to connect. We have a history of doing it, dating back to the ‘90s. We battled our crappy dial-up connections to try and find other people like us. And we did! We found them in chat rooms, and on sites like PlanetOut and Gay.com. Much like connecting with others on Instagram, having access to people all over the world helped queer folks in small towns and rural communities all over find community. Now, for those of us who are both queer and sober, we’re a subculture within a subculture. That means it’s even harder to find our people out in the wild—and makes online communities more important than ever.

Once I’d been sober for a while and I was able to identify that I needed more sober queers in my life, I knew where I had to start my search. I put out a homing signal for other sober queers and began tagging all of my Instagram posts with things like #soberlesbian or #soberqueer. I also started searching through those hashtags, hoping to find people to connect with.

The results were almost immediate. I was quickly accumulating followers and making connections with queer and sober folks from all over the world.

My heart exploded with every new interaction and every new opportunity to see that we’re all less alone than we thought.

During my second year of sobriety, I really began opening up about my story. I’d share my struggles and triumphs. I’m a firm believer that it’s easier to do something if you see someone like you has already done it. Sharing who I am and how my queerness has been integrated into every part of my life and, in turn, every part of my recovery has created a space for other sober queer folks to say “me too.” There are so many of us out there yet, in the narrative of queer culture, our stories and experiences are left out.

Sharing my experience with whoever wants to read it isn’t only helpful for others but helpful for me, too. Being able to put on display all of the things about myself that society says I should be ashamed of and not only refuse to be ashamed but be proud instead is super empowering. Which is why I’ve also begun to seek out and share the stories of other queer and sober people.

Creating community and finding your people is just as much about amplifying the voices of others as it is finding people to listen to you and hang out with.

Don’t Just Use Social Media, Use Social Skills Too

My interest in the sober queer community on social media doesn’t stop with commenting and messaging online. While I do often go through spurts of time where most of my daily interactions are through texting or Instagram, I understand the importance of real life, human connection.

One of my favorite things to do is to find local sober queer folks and meet up with them. I’ve met many people here, in the Pacific Northwest, because one of us took the chance to send a message via Instagram or Facebook. This also works really well if you’re going to be traveling somewhere. I recently spent a month in New England, where I was able to meet with at least six different people whom I’d previously only known through Instagram.

I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t sometimes feel like an awkward first date when you first meet someone in person. It does. But, my favorite part of meeting other sober folks and especially queer and sober folks, is that the awkwardness dissipates quickly and conversation turns deep and meaningful. There’s something very comforting about meeting someone whom I don’t have to explain myself to. To be inherently understood, accepted, and seen is something that so many people take for granted.

Once I connected with a few different sober queers in my area, I began hosting little get-togethers from time to time. Whether it’s a sober queer brunch, a queer movie night or a fun little hike, I can’t express enough how great it feels to look around at a group of people and know that we’re all on the same page.

Create your own community

As queer and trans folks we already know that we can’t count on the majority to create mindful and relatable resources for us as a minority, we need to do it for ourselves. DIY is as much part of queer culture as anything else. We’ve been creating our own fashion, culture, and language for decades and we can also create the spaces and resources that we need to support an alcohol-free life.

The beauty of the internet is that it’s easier than ever for anyone can create their own community. I know that I often see large groups or communities online and think I’m not important enough to make that sort of impact, but communities don’t start with thousands of people. Communities start small and grow over time.

I recently started my own secret Facebook group for queer, trans and questioning folks who are sober, sober curious or in any kind of recovery. This group is a direct result of me feeling like I needed a recovery space not only where I belonged but, where folks across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum belong. It has been incredibly affirming for me to see how folks are interacting in the space because it’s clearly filling a void that many of us had in our recovery.

As we reach out to each other, one person at a time, we’re creating a web of connections that is the base of a larger queer and sober community. Finding our people is not just about us, it’s about creating visibility for other queer folks who are questioning their alcohol use.

There’s no right way to find your people in sobriety, just as there’s no right way to get sober. I can tell you from my experience that if you’re queer or trans and you’re sober, everything will change for you once you find your sober queer crew. Everything.

And I promise that you will find them. We’re out here, looking for you, too.