If you’ve ever attended Pride, you know that it’s a booze-centric event, right down to the long-held relationship between SKYY Vodka and Pride celebrations throughout the country. Unfortunately, the boozier Pride becomes, the more it strays from its original roots in activism.
Known as the Stonewall Riots, the first Pride was actually a protest in response to the New York Police Department’s harassment of the LGBTQ community on June 28, 1969. After a raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, the New York City queer community revolted. The movement was led by transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. The following year, the first Pride parade was held in New York.
Yes, the Stonewall Riots took place in a bar; in that era, however, bars were one of the few “safe spaces” where the queer community could convene. If anything, the history of Pride demonstrates two aspects: The policing of the LGBTQ community and the history of drinking in this community. At the end of the day, though, the Stonewall Riots were a series of demonstrations that birthed the modern fight for LGBTQ rights.
When celebrating Pride this year, remember the fact that it was led by two trans women of color. We’ve come a long way, but trans women are still being killed. As a community of queer and sober people, we have the responsibility — and the privilege — of not numbing ourselves to the history of Pride. While you may not be partying as hard as you did in the past, Pride can take on a deeper, richer meaning with the following activities.
1. Enjoy Pride, but prepare accordingly.
If you want to attend Pride but you’re feeling a little nervous, look at your local Pride’s website to get a listing of events; some options might include the actual parade, daytime drag shows, or a local run. If it’s labeled as family-friendly, it should be relatively sober-friendly. If you want to attend later events such as a concert, make sure you bring your own non-alcoholic beverages, and don’t feel obligated to stay late into the night. Also, bringing a sober buddy is always helpful.
2. Table for a local organization.
As you probably know, issues in the LGBTQ community intersects with so many other issues: poverty, access to medical care, Substance Use Disorder, racial inequality… the list is endless, unfortunately. If you’re passionate about a particular issue, however, Pride can be an optimal time to volunteer. For instance, if you’re worried about the future of abortion access, particularly for those in the LGBTQ community, contact your local NARAL Pro-Choice chapter and volunteer to table for the organization at Pride.
3. Support queer artists.
While more and more corporations continue to sell “rainbow merch” every year — see Chipotle’s “Love What Makes You Real” campaign — the LGBTQ community struggles with disproportionately higher levels of poverty, according to a 2016 study. Instead of driving to your local Target to pick up the first rainbow shirt you see, support queer artists by attending a local Pride art show, such as this art show in Minneapolis, Minn. In addition, independent bookstores across the country are celebrating Pride the entire month of June, including Powell Bookstore in Portland, Ore.
4. Volunteer for a hotline.
If you want to give back to the LGBTQ community in a concrete way during Pride month, try volunteering for a hotline. Unfortunately, suicide is the leading cause of death for LGBTQ individuals between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Furthermore, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide. The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, offers volunteer advocacy positions for people located anywhere in the United States.
5. Dance the night away.
If you’re giving back to the LGBTQ community, make sure to take care of yourself, too. Part of Pride is the celebration of living as your true self, after all. For instance, Denver hosts a Queer n’ Sober Dance. Check your local Pride website for a list of sober activities; chances are, there’s a dance party near you. If there isn’t, feel free to attend a regular dance night, but remember to listen to your body, and prepare an exit strategy if needed.
6. Host a sober party.
If attending Pride is too challenging for your sobriety, why not throw your own sober party instead? It can range from a quiet brunch at home with close friends to a rager with endless mocktails. Chances are, there are several other queer, sober folks in your community; social media is a great way to find kindred spirits. That, or you can host a party for your fellow LGBTQ friends, and ask them to remain sober for the evening. After all, Pride is a time to celebrate, and sometimes it feels good to make memories you’ll actually remember.
The biggest thing to remember when celebrating Pride, whether you’re doing it this year or next, is that you don’t have to do what everyone else seems to be doing… especially if everyone seems to be drinking and partying. They’re not, as some queer introverts will tell you. Try one of the activities above to celebrate Pride while sober or, better yet, come up with your own Pride fun and tell us about it on Instagram.
In the meantime, come back to The Temper all month long for more stories on celebrating cool LGBTQ peoples who are doing wonderful things in the recovery community.