Why is it important to represent queer sobriety? Well the harder I try to rack my brain for memories of my first LGBTQIA+ pride event, the more I realise that I have no recollection of it. Whatsoever.
From the time spent atop of the GO Magazine float, as it sashayed up 7th Avenue in New York City, to the smaller yet no-less-spirited beachfront march in the Jersey Shore’s Asbury Park Pride Parade, I fail to recall any meaningful experiences.
When I think back to the dozens of pride festivities I attended, all that’s left is a blur.
However, there is one thing that’s nearly impossible to forget. The absurd amounts of alcohol. And I’m not just talking about the amount I ingested which, admittedly, was also absurd in its own right.
I’m referring to the sheer presence of alcohol everywhere I turned. No matter when or where the event was taking place. Let’s be real. Not many things at a pride event can rival the astronomical quantity of rainbow-ized items. But alcohol was, and remains, a formidable foe.
Why is that and how can the representation of queer sobriety help?
Well, two things stick out to me when it comes to the reasoning behind the unwieldy presence of alcohol at pride events.
First, the LGBTQIA+ community is already at a higher risk for substance abuse than our heterosexual counterparts. So, unfortunate as it may be, it’s unsurprising that the archetypal events dedicated to celebrating our collective identity, happen to be swamped with booze.
The second reason I think alcohol is so pervasive during pride events comes down to a little concept called “rainbow money.” Sounds cute, right? It’s not.
Rainbow money refers to the co-opting of queer liberation by commodifying LGBTQIA+ pride. It’s corporations’ way of making money off us. Instead of efforting for actual, societal changes towards equality and justice, Events like pride parades are the chosen feeding ground for vulturous brands looking to make a quick buck. One off of an already marginalised and exploited group of people.
Which industry is especially notorious for doing this? You guessed it. Big Alcohol. When you combine corporate greed with people inherently susceptible to substance abuse, you’re likely to end up with one deadly cocktail.
So the big question, then, is how do we stop it?
That’s where queer sobriety comes in. More specifically, the representation of queer people who live happy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives – without the use of, or need for alcohol. While the representation of queer sobriety alone will be insufficient in ending Big Alcohol’s attempts to further monopolize on LGBTQ+ people’s predilection for alcohol abuse, it’s certainly a good start.
Part of the reason I started my YouTube channel is to demonstrate that a life free from alcohol can be a lot of fun, even if you’re queer. Hell, especially if you’re queer.
The LGBTQIA+ community is known for being full of life, bold, and unapologetic in our approach to living out loud. Those things don’t change once we put down the booze. In fact, they actually flourish.
And the more that we in the queer community take pride in our sobriety the same way we take pride in our sexuality and gender identity, the better a chance we have to spread the message of hope to our fellow LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters.
Written by Allie Campbell
Allie is a content creator and runs her own ADHD co-working spaces. You can find Allie on Instagram at @alliekcampbell