How Did Pride Month Start?
Pride Month is a holiday that takes place over the course of an entire month. It starts on June 1st and runs to June 20th. This period of time was originally meant to be a celebration of the gay rights movement, and it has since extended to cover the rights of the entire LGBTQ movement. This movement is widely considered to have begun in New York City in 1969 with the Stonewall riots, though there were also hints of the movement a few years before that during protests in Los Angeles.
Pride Month not only calls attention to the ongoing struggle for equal rights and justice for members of the LGBTQ community, it is also about celebrating the historic accomplishments of this community. The entire month is an enormous celebration of inclusivity, promoting positive attitudes and self-esteem among today’s young people, and paying tribute to the efforts and sacrifices of LGBTQ community leaders who have fought against discrimination and paved the way for the current generation.
Pride Month encompasses a wide range of activities, and everyone around the country has their own particular ways of celebrating the holiday. However, the two largest and most well known events having to do with Pride are the parades in New York City and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, where Pride started, it was originally an acronym, PRIDE. These letters stood for “Personal Rights in Defense and Education.” This parade and movement was founded by Steve Ginsburg in 1966. Over time, especially as the Internet and social media spread the word, Pride expanded. It eventually even came to include allies, people who are not necessarily members of the LGBTQ community but nonetheless support their causes.
Drinking and Drug Use at Pride
The fact that alcohol and drugs play a role in Pride festivals and celebrations should come as no surprise. The vast majority of parties and celebrations are also occasions for drinking, drug use, and inebriation. These holidays, including Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, are occasions for great revelry. Pride Month is no exception. Individuals attending major Pride parades in New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller events, often enjoy letting loose and partaking in mind-altering substances. While this is fine for people without substance use disorders, it can pose a significant problem for people with addictive personalities.
Members of the LGBTQ community, as well as their allies, have a right to celebrate Pride. Unfortunately, individuals who are trying to stay clean and sober might worry that the presence of alcohol and drugs at these celebrations would be triggering. Facing this possibility, these people might decide not to attend Pride festivities at all, which would be a great shame. After all, these events are meant to be celebrations of inclusivity, so everyone should feel welcome – including members of the recovery community.
Addiction and the LGBTQ Community
A large body of research shows that drug and alcohol use disorders are more prevalent in the LGBTQ community than other demographics. This is not because of some inherent quality that members of this community possess. Rather, it is due to a number of social factors. The most important cause of the higher rate of substance use disorders is discrimination. In fact, many studies point to discrimination as one of the driving forces behind unhealthy alcohol and drug abuse. Being socially ostracized and lonely can make people more likely to reach for the bottle or for a drug. Moreover, mind altering substances can serve as temporary remedies for the negative feelings of being discriminated against for one’s sexual orientation.
Since addiction in the LGBTQ community stems from isolation, discrimination, and negative perceptions of gay people, it is all the more important that Pride Month be celebrated. As a month-long holiday that celebrates our differences, promotes the accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, and takes inclusivity as a primary principle, Pride has great potential to heal old traumas and help people on their journeys of recovery. Whether they are suffering from addiction, depression, or another mental health disorder, having the opportunity to build friendships and community with other members of the community is guaranteed to be healing.
LA Pride in 2022
Every year, the celebrations in LA during Pride Month become larger and larger. There are events throughout the month for people to attend. West Hollywood has its own distinct Pride parade, which they hold on June 5th. Los Angeles’ own Pride parade occurs on June 12th. West Hollywood’s Pride parade tends to be an enormous celebration, since West Hollywood, or WeHo as it is often known, has an extremely active LGBTQ population. In fact, roughly 40% of the city identifies as members of the LGBTQ community.
Beyond these major parades, however, there are a number of other events as well. The Grove hosts its very own Pride Bingo on June 9th. This event occurs in the Grove’s rooftop parking lot, which they transform dramatically so that revelers can enjoy a glorious evening under the stars. There, they can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the Los Angeles skyline. A week later, additional LA Pride activities take place, such as Pride in the Park, an outdoor concert featuring Christina Aguilera. Taking place in LA State Historic Park, an extensive green field between Chinatown and Elysian park, this event has a maximum capacity of 25,000 people.
Lastly, toward the end of the month, on June 24th, Pride completely takes over Universal Studios. This after-hours event, known as Pride Universal, is truly a sight to behold. But even if you end up missing this event or the other major Pride events, there are countless activities and events on a smaller scale throughout Los Angeles. Even outside of major venues, you can always just meet up with friends for a casual Pride hangout!
How Can I Celebrate Pride Sober?
If you are clean and sober – or simply want to avoid drugs and alcohol during Pride, do not fret. You are likely to find support from members of the LGBTQ community as well as the recovery community. Both communities overlap more than you might expect, too! There are plenty of options and ways to celebrate Pride without having to worry about being stressed, triggered, or pressured into using drugs or taking a drink. Listed below are a few ideas for celebrating Pride without resorting to mind altering substances.
Attend a Sober Pride Fest
Did you know that there is a festival that is specifically designed to meet the needs of people who are sober in the LGBTQ community? The organization which puts this festival on is called Gay & Sober. Every year during Pride Month, they organize a block party that celebrates LGBTQ community members who have fought and continue to fight drug and alcohol addiction. This event is generally a lot of fun. And you can definitely expect people to let loose – without even having to resort to intoxication.
Join an Online Pride Event
Virtual Pride events were always around, but during the COVID pandemic they became far more prevalent. These virtual parties offer people a way to celebrate Pride without having to be physically present at an enormous parade. While some of these events are entirely online, others are mixed. In fact, many of the major in-personal festivities and events during Pride Month feature an ability to livestream from home.
Attend a Pride Event with Sober Friends
No one else can tell you if you are ready to attend an event where drugs and alcohol are present. If your sobriety and recovery tools are strong, you may feel confident that you can attend an event like this without feeling tempted. However, if you are newer to sobriety, you may feel a little too shaky to do so. In either case, the best way to ensure that you remain sober at a Pride event where alcohol and drugs are present is by attending it alongside other supportive sober friends. This not only makes these events more enjoyable, but it also helps keep you accountable.
Organize Your Own Pride Party
Another option is to arrange your own festivities. Pride Month is about taking pride in who you are and doing things your own way. So if the major Pride events are not appropriate for you at this time, then there’s nothing stopping you from getting together with a bunch of close (and sober) friends and celebrating Pride in your own personal style. There are plenty of things to do. Try attending a virtual event, watch a parade live stream, or simply play board games and enjoy each other’s company.
LGBTQ Outpatient Programs in Los Angeles
If you are seeking resources for getting sober or strengthening your sobriety in Los Angeles, NuView Treatment Center’s outpatient rehab is the preeminent treatment center in West Los Angeles. We are all-inclusive and are sensitive to issues important to the LGBTQ community. It is our belief that with compassionate care and evidence-based therapies, anyone can make a full recovery and live a fulfilling life without abusing drugs or alcohol. If you are ready to make a change, reach out to us today for a free and confidential consultation.
For more on sobriety for LGBTQ, please visit our resources page here.