The Share

Galvanizing The Community

Robert Gamboa, one of the producers of the sober #SIZZLE at the LA Pride Festival, on staying on track, the #ResistMarch and “Take a Sober Stand.”

The way I stay sober during Pride season is I am of service. I get to be of service at a multitude of capacities. Being of service helps me get out of my head. One of the big things that we’ve come to realize is that pride and the holidays are two periods of the year where we see a lot of relapses, a lot of mental health episodes, and a lot of suicides.”

“Pride season can be very chaotic. There’s too much alcohol, too many drugs, too many sexual overtones and innuendos. #Sizzle is our anchor event put on by alcohol-free people, so we can create a safe space and allow people to come and enjoy Pride. Pride is for everyone, including those who no longer drink or use drugs.”

“This year we have the #ResistMarch happening. We decided #Sizzle is going to have an additional component called Take a Sober Stand (visit This is co-sponsored by the LA LGBT Center’s Addiction and Recovery Services and the Institute of Public Strategies. We are helping to galvanize the sober community, because so many people are having struggles right now. They are worried that their healthcare is going to be taken away. They are worried that their loved ones or themselves are going to be deported. Reports in The Center’s Addiction and Recovery Services indicate that people are having trouble staying sober as a result of these increasing worries.”

“Everyone is meeting for Take a Sober Stand. You can go online to purchase a shirt. It says ‘Take a Sober Stand’ on the front and on the back it says, ‘I stand for…’ and there’s a white patch where you can write whatever you like, be it healthcare protection, or whatever it is that’s going to help you stay sober or what you want to protest in the current political situation.”

“Everyone that’s participating is going to meet at the LA LGBT Center. Then we will walk to the #ResistMarch and join everyone at Hollywood and Highland. That way we can find each other, because it is going to be madhouse central. So that’s very exciting. There will be a group of people probably marching with The Center, but you’ll see a group of us in our blue shirts who are taking a sober stand.”

“I don’t think a people realize how today’s political climate impacts those of us in recovery. Especially those of us dealing with things, like HIV or other pre-existing conditions. This is really affecting our sobriety and serenity. Take a Sober Stand is a great way for people to step up. It doesn’t mean they’ll be breaking their anonymity or anything. This could be for supporters of people in recovery as well. It will be a nice movement to get people going.”

—Robert Gamboa, sober since November 28, 2009.

Photo by Jon Viscott