Pride weekend in New York is the epicenter of gay culture. It’s usually centered on cocktails, debauchery and drugs—until now.
New York City offers something for everyone. Many of us know it’s the greatest, most dynamic city in the world, and yet it can also possess that intimate, small-town quality. For many in the sober community, however—particularly for ‘newbies’ just starting out—New York City can be daunting, overwhelming and lonely, especially when trying to find social outlets that aren’t tinged with memories of old behavior.
Queer & Sober was willed into reality to provide a safe and entertaining experience for members of the LGBT sober community through high-quality, low-cost events with high production value. It welcomes sober individuals near and far, with Pride weekend at center stage. The event is not affiliated with any single 12-step program, and its primary purpose is to encourage unity and enhance sobriety. The vision is to host exceptional events that will not only capture your imagination but will inspire others to live life, have fun and be happy, joyous and free.
Q&S enhances sobriety and makes it a real party. This is particularly vital for newcomers, who may lack a reference for enjoyment without mind-altering substances. One Q&S creator says, “Usually because of drugs like meth, people these days are deciding to get sober younger, and we have to keep them interested. Otherwise, they think sobriety is dull and eventually leave. We want them to stick with sobriety and succeed.”
This all evolved when four friends decided to throw an experimental sober Pride party in 2010 with a Wild West theme. It was free and open to the entire sober community. A DJ flew in from Miami, beef jerky and longhorns were airlifted from Texas and a generous soul donated a perfect, ranch-style space in the middle of Manhattan. Seven hundred instead of the expected 100 showed up and danced the night away. That experiment gave birth to Q&S.
Days later, Q&S received an email from an attendee out of rehab just before the party. He was in New York City and afraid he’d relapse if he didn’t find something sober to do. He found the Q&S event. “Thank You!” he wrote. “I don’t know if I would have made it through the weekend sober without your party. It was so much fun. The best time of my life. I never thought I would ever dance sober....”
Last year, Q&S inaugurated a successful and widely attended full weekend of events during Pride, including a Friday night sober “Superheroes Ball,” a Park Social, a sexy “Mr. Sobriety” pageant and a Sunday night cruise under the fireworks. People from as far as London and Rome joined in the fun. However, the true measure of success was the overwhelming response of newbies who expressed gratitude for a fun and safe outlet during a time that can be rife with danger and triggers. One said, “For the first time, in my short sobriety, I wasn’t looking longingly at the other side of the street. I was able to celebrate my sobriety.”
This year, Q&S is getting on the gay marriage bandwagon—the weekend’s theme is love! Everything from a sober Pier Dance Party with a famous DJ to a sexy Men’s Pageant and a dance cruise underneath the Pride fireworks!
Join Q&S at N.Y. Pride June 22-24! For info, visit nycqueerandsober.org.
Christian Parker lives and works in New York City and is a co-creator of Queer & Sober.