Pride In Recovery
With Pride season in mind, we asked a few local sober folks with different lengths of recovery time what celebrating Pride is like for them now that they are sober.
BY PAULO MURILLO
“I’m performing at the Pride festival. I have worked a few Prides hungover and that was not fun. Nothing is fun hungover. My sexual identity and my being able to relate to the gay community has blossomed since I got sober. I have a better sense of myself as a person and as a community member. I’m actually proud of the person that I am today and I can associate that with Gay Pride. Regarding the people that drink at the festival, I think it will be like any other gig. I’m around gay people who are not sober all the time and it makes me very grateful that I’m having all this fun and feeling connected to my emotions and my experiences and I’m doing it sober.”
—Joe Faragher (Pickle), sober since March, 2016.
WHO I AM
“Gay, lesbian and transgender people have come a long way and we have a lot to celebrate. The truth is I have not been to Pride festival as a sober woman, but that doesn’t mean that I am not proud to be part of this community. I do believe in Gay Pride and I understand what it’s for. I am also very proud and I’m so happy to be sober. I never want to drink or use again in my life because it’s always the same results. The last time I was at Pride, I worked a sober event and I was loaded, but that’s not who I am today.”
—Penny Shelby, sober since December, 2008.
“The last time I went to Pride, I was using drugs. It was mostly about looking for a partner. I have a different view now that I’m sober and I’m working a program of recovery. I don’t just see Pride as a place to hook up. There are a lot of outreach programs. They provide different services like HIV testing and a lot more that we can benefit from. Of course it’s still about having fun and getting together to unite and celebrate. Attending Pride sober will be a whole new experience. I plan to have a lot of fun.”
—Ivan Ramirez, sober since April, 2016.
I WAS OBLIVIOUS
“I didn’t start going to Pride until I got sober. I didn’t care about Gay Pride. I only cared about getting high. I was oblivious to all of that stuff. The first Pride I attended, I was going through some stuff and trying to avoid some people, but I had fun. Being around drunk people at the festival can be irritating. Drunk people don’t trigger me; they just irritate me. I’m optimistic about going to Pride this year. I’m not worried about getting loaded—that’s not a problem—I just don’t want to go there alone.”
—Chris DePooter, sober since October, 2015.
MY 12 STEP STORE
“I have 30 years of sobriety. I have been a member of this community for three decades. Before I got sober, I remember going out there in flip-flops and the shortest shorts and I didn’t have anywhere to keep money. Today it’s more about being supportive towards others who are trying to have their Pride experience. I own My 12 Step Store on Santa Monica Boulevard and keep the store open during Pride to provide a safe zone for those who feel they need to check in, or just say hello. It’s good for gay people to know that sober people are out there and that sobriety at these events is possible. You are not alone.”
—RJ Holguin, sober since May, 1986.
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