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Sober Pride

Pride parades around the country have been thriving this summer; celebrating people coming together, raising awareness about queer issues, and promoting acceptance and equality amongst all people. In Liverpool, Saturday the 30th of July was the first Pride celebration since 2019, before the Covid pandemic.

There was a fantastic feeling across the city as, after a few challenging years, the festival could go on and people could celebrate together. As part of the queer community, I am so happy the parade got to happen after years of hiatus.

I’m a bisexual cis-gendered woman. I had crushes on girls before I had crushes on guys. I came out to my friends when I was 14-ish, whilst drunk. Apart from a few questionable looks from my gal pals who were wondering if I had ulterior motives when we shared a bed at sleepovers, people took it well. My mum accepted it, too. I was very privileged in that respect.

But I was only comfortable with that part of myself when I was drinking. I would gain fake confidence through booze and then open up to people about my sexuality. It’s only since going sober that I feel I can own that part of myself, and even now I am still learning how to embrace it without being shy or feeling like my queerness is invalid (being a bisexual woman with a boyfriend).

My siblings and stepsiblings are all queer (out of the five of us my mum and step-dad don’t have any straight kids). My youngest sibling is non-binary with he/they pronouns, and is one of my biggest inspirations in life. He’s 13, and is not afraid of being his authentic self, despite the many people who have treated him terribly because of this. Being 13, he doesn’t have much opportunity to use alcohol when presenting his queerness, and I admire his strength more and more every day.

On top of being subject to prejudice, discrimination, microaggressions, and hate crimes, many in the LGBTQ+ community are also unsupported by their families and close friends. Having stressors and trauma that cis-gendered people do not, alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism in this community (Drink Aware), which is even more likely if people belong to other marginalised groups.

Many queer spaces are heavily saturated with alcohol, and drinking is seen as a social lubricant that can help people come together and feel accepted while celebrating the union of LGBTQ+ people. From my personal experience, most queer events I have attended have involved heavy drinking, which can make people in these spheres more at risk of struggling with alcohol.

Because queer people are more at risk when it comes to alcohol, as well as other marginalised groups, it’s important to address sobriety in an intersectional way that takes into account all people’s experiences. We at OTI want to bring together all people in sobriety, and not ignore the external factors that may make it more difficult for people to stop drinking.

When I was drinking, I was wearing a mask. I wasn’t being my authentic self totally. Things I thought about who I was turned out not to be true when I gave up alcohol. I had to learn how to be myself all over again, and how to feel comfortable with who I was. Now I’m sober I am slowly learning how to be my authentic, complex, proud, bisexual self, and I hope to help others do the same.

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