Everyone wants to be part of the “in crowd,” right?
Our definitions of “in crowd” may be different but, the feeling is universal. We want to be a part of the group that we idolize, the group that’s like us, the group that understands what we’re going through.
Finding other sober people I could connect with is what saved me. The first three months after I quit drinking were the most hellish months of my life, I was holding on to everything with a death grip because I didn’t know how else to do it. I only knew that I needed to not drink.
The people I found, mostly women, all white, and overwhelmingly straight, offered me a sense of comfort because regardless of our different backgrounds, our experiences were all eerily similar. A chorus of “I’ve felt that too. You’re not the only one.” flooded our comments online and our conversations in person. It felt really good to be a part of something.
When the Pulse shooting in Orlando happened in 2016, I was just about five months sober. That morning, while I was listening to coverage about the shooting on the radio, I sobbed. I sobbed while I was doing my morning stretches. I sobbed while I was drinking my coffee. I sobbed in the shower and I sobbed while I drove an hour to meet up with a new sober friend to hike.
I didn’t know it when I left my house but, the woman I was going to meet was also queer. She is now married to a cis man but, had previously been in relationships with women and knew what it meant to be part of the community. It was such a comfort to have someone with me who understood and was also sober.
That interaction stood in stark contrast to the interactions I had with the majority of my online community. Not that folks weren’t empathetic and kind, they were. But, there was something missing from it. I wanted people in my sober community to really know what I was feeling, not just try to imagine it.
This incident was the first time I realized that I needed more from my sober community than just not drinking and being supportive. I needed people that I didn’t have to explain myself, or my experience to. I needed people who had been subject to the same microaggressions, discrimination and strange looks as I have.
The more established I became in the community over the next year, the bigger the gap became between what I needed and what was available to me. Groups of heteronormative, cisgender women just didn’t seem to allow space for me — a queer agender human — to feel like they were part of the movement. In places where we were all supposed to feel supported and part of something, I felt like an outsider. In groups where white, cis, hetero women were being encouraged to take up space, I was still looking for someplace where I could even exist as I was and be understood.
I have to wonder, if I feel like this as a person who is very stable and secure in their sexuality and sobriety, what does it feel like for those of us who don’t have that sure footing underneath them? How does it feel for my queer and trans siblings who join groups or go to events, hoping for solidarity and leave feeling like the odd one out?
In the true spirit of queer DIY culture, I have decided that I have to create the resources that I (and I’m pretty sure other queers) need.
The first step in that was this blog. Having a space where I can share my story and also share the stories of other queer and trans sober folks is immensely important to me. Resources that are Googleable and available to folks whether or not they have access to a sober queer community locally are necessary if we’re going to begin to address substance abuse and addiction in the LGBTQIA+ community.
The next step, which I am SUPER excited about, is the launch of a secret Facebook group just for queer, trans and questioning folks who are sober, sober curious or in any sort of recovery. We need space to not only be able to talk about the challenges of recovery and sobriety but, to also be able to process issues that are related to our gender and/or sexuality without having to explain ourselves or our feelings.
If you are interested in joining this group, head on over to the community page of my site and send me the email address that’s associated with your Facebook profile. It’s that easy. I’ll get you added and we can all start connecting!
Being queer or trans is hard enough, it shouldn’t also be hard for you to find a community to fully support and understand you in your recovery.