Getting sober is never easy. Whether you’ve quit (or are hoping to quit) alcohol because you have a substance use disorder or you’re simply sober curious, we all need a little support to get there. Sure, there are online meetings these days but what if we need more? That is where the first-ever Sober Voices Summit comes in.
“There needed to be a big ‘industry/movement’ event like this — a place where diverse voices could convene to discuss the varying ways to be sober-curious or seeking harm reduction, sobriety, or recovery,” Phoebe Claire Conybeare, the CEO and Co-Founder of Sober Voices, says to The Temper. “Too many events in this budding sober movement/industry have continued to uplift the same white, affluent, able-bodied, cis-gendered, straight, voices (which mimics the greater recovery institutions and systems at large). We felt this kind of event needed to heed a mandate we’d heard from queer, femme, disabled, Latinx, BIPOC, and queer trans BIPOC organizers and activists.”
So Conybeare and her Co-Founder Alyssa May Hart set out to create the big, ambitious space they felt was missing with a mission to “create formal community spaces for diverse thought leadership from sober humans” and “to continue to normalize sobriety and opting out of drinking culture.”
The Sober Voices Summit — presented in partnership with Tempest — is a 3-day event held virtually on February 4-6th, 2021. Ticket prices range from $49 (priority to Queer, Trans and/or disabled/chronically ill and/or BIPOC Folx) to $299 (a high/supporter fee price). All tickets come with recording access through February 28, 2021, which is great for those who may not be able to attend full-time during the multi-day event whose schedule is pretty packed with some fantastic speakers.
If you’re wondering whether you should attend the event, here’s what Conybeare had to say: “You will find your story or pieces of your story represented in at least one, if not many, of the sessions you’ll attend. Take a look at the agenda and connect with the speakers on their own platforms and we assure you, you will find someone to make you feel less alone in this journey!”
While we still live our lives in a pandemic with very little ability to connect with others IRL, these virtual connections are more important than ever. And hey, anything that makes us feel less alone today is worth it. But don’t just take it from me. Here’s what some of the speakers had to say on why they decided to participate — and why they think attending will help your sobriety, too.
Kirstin Walker, Founder of Sober Brown Girls
Shea Gomez, Founder of No Booze Babes
“I think it is so important to normalize sobriety. When people speak up and share their stories and experiences, it gives others the permission to speak up and share theirs as well. I hope that the summit shows people that they are not alone. There is a beautifully diverse community of people who do not drink and who have chosen to omit alcohol from their lives in order to thrive, learn, and discover who they truly are and were always meant to be.”
Michelle Yang, Mental Health Advocate and writer
“It is important for me to lend my voice and story to Sober Voices, to band together with powerful and diverse advocates in this movement to change our alcohol- and substance- dependent culture. Many choose a sober lifestyle for different reasons. For me, I live with bipolar 1 and have a family history of substance abuse, so avoiding alcohol has helped me maintain my wellness over the past two decades. Avoiding self-medication during times of struggle has meant that I could access the real help I needed faster, without those around me confusing my symptoms for something else. I count myself very fortunate for avoiding a duo-diagnosis. Also, I hope people will learn what life can look like beyond the ‘work hard, play hard’ culture. I want people also to see what it can be to not repeat destructive family cycles.”
Tawny Lara, Founder of SobrieTea Party & Co-Host of Recovery Rocks Podcast
Lazarus Letcher, Black trans musician and writer
“We still need more Black trans representation in recovery spaces. I’m grateful for every opportunity to share my experience and insight into how to make recovery spaces more accessible and inclusive for folks like me — and by default everyone. I have never participated in a sobriety event with such diverse voices and viewpoints, and I feel like we’ve reached a turning point as a recovery community. Recovery isn’t one size fits all, and the more perspectives we have out there the more folks can join us on this journey. For many of us, especially BIPOC folks, we are the first in our family to be able to access healing and confront centuries of harm and trauma. It is essential for us to have a community in this journey, and this conference is a part of building that. Recovery isn’t for the privileged few, because addiction doesn’t discriminate. We all do better when we all do better, and the Sober Voices Summit is a shining example of building a world where this is true.”
Allie K. Campbell, Digital Content Creator
“My presence as a queer, neurodivergent person who has followed a mostly non-traditional path of recovery will help others who can relate to those identities in their own way, to know that they’re not alone. When I first got sober in 2016, it was nearly impossible to find someone ‘like me.’ My hope is that, by participating in Sober Voices, someone else who might be in a similar position to the one I found myself in 4 years ago, can avoid that same pang of loneliness I experienced. My hope is that everyone who attends can find at least a piece of themselves or their story while attending the summit. The lineup of speakers and panelists is so beautifully, necessarily, diverse — not only from racial, cultural, ethnic, gender, and sexual identity perspectives (although it is very much those things, too). But also from the perspective of different approaches to sobriety. I think a lot of people will find comfort and maybe even hope in the realization that they have options when it comes to choosing their path to sobriety.”
Jocellyn Harvey, success coach and author of ‘Recovering the Home’
Priscila Garcia-Jacquier, French-Colombian screenwriter and sober hedonist
“Sober Voices is shining light on the infinite ways of being a sober person. Sobriety isn’t a monolith. That’s something I’d wish I’d know when I first got sober. Honestly, and I mean this in the most grounded way possible, I was desperate for someone like me when I first got sober 3.5 years ago. I was so afraid my life would become one long AA meeting and that I would lose all parts of me I deemed authentic, albeit a little murky in my substance use. Life obviously did change, I changed, it did become one long AA meeting for a hot minute, but eventually, I got to the place where I am now. Which is living boldly in my sobriety in a way I didn’t see many examples of when I first got sober. I discovered that people like me have always been a part of the sober community, it’s just that a place like Sober Voices is finally giving us a chance to boldly come together.”
Chris Marshall, Founder of Sans Bar
“I truly believe that Sober Voices is going to be a historic event that will galvanize the alcohol-free movement for years to come because it is centered around people and perspectives that we don’t always get to hear from. It is encouraging to see a summit that reflects the brilliant diversity of the sober space. It is my hope that attendees will show up and bear witness to all of these incredible speakers and continue to follow them long after Sober Voices.”
As a sober person myself, I can echo a lot of the sentiments expressed above about how I very badly wanted something like this when I quit alcohol 5.5 years ago. I especially love that “inclusion and accessibility are non-negotiable mandates,” according to Conybeare. “It should be status quo to default to considering/building with multifaceted voices and accessibility as priorities.”
As Conybeare and her team “continue to work to improve our intersectionality,” she speaks with hope about the future of Sober Voices beyond 2021. “We’re welcoming new organizers to our leadership team so we don’t know what intersections and ideas they’ll bring to the table, and we truly can’t wait for that.” While big goals include an in-person experience, merch, music, art, discussion groups, and more, Conybeare says they are also working on “figuring out how to leverage the community that’s building around the event in an ongoing way.”
So if you attend this year and want more (cause why wouldn’t you?), don’t worry. More is just around the corner. Conybeare concludes, “If you have any ideas or wishes/dreams for the future or are interested in helping out as an organizer, please drop us a note at [email protected].”
Hope I’ll see you there!
Ready to stop drinking and feel better? Explore membership options at Tempest — and get ready for a life without alcohol.