Queer, Sober and Proud

Queer, Sober and Proud

By May Wilkerson 04/20/12

This year's NYC Queer and Sober Pride events look set to be more successful than ever.

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This year's theme is Love.

One momentous Friday night last June, hundreds of revelersmany in superhero-garbdanced under disco balls at a gallery in Chelsea, amped up only on red bulls, soda and adrenaline. Suddenly the music stopped and an announcement was made: gay marriage had passed in New York. "Everyone was crying and hugging each other," Christian Parker, one of the event's organizers, tells The Fix.

Four years ago, he and four sober buddies founded NYC Queer and Sober because of the sparse options for sober people during pride. There was one sober dance, with 20-30 people, and it "felt like a middle school dance" says Christian, who recalls thinking, "This is too depressing. I'm a young gay man and I like to have fun, but I also like my sobriety." Now, his organization runs an annual pride weekend for the sober community, with soaring attendance. Last year, the weekend was superhero-themed. The main dance party, at a Chelsea gallery with walls painted by a famous cartoonist, attracted more than 500 attendees and included a "Mr. Sobriety" pageant. This year, to celebrate the anniversary of gay marriage passing, the theme is Love.

Pride is a climatic time for the LGBT community, and people flock from around the globe to partake in hundreds of New York events at all hours of day and night, peaking with a parade down Fifth Avenue. But most pride activities center on drinking and drug useand for a recovering addict, "compare and despair" can lead to relapse. So NYC Queer and Sober aims to keep people engaged by vibrant, hip, high-energy sober events, with a focus on the young. "People are getting sober younger," explains Christian. "We have to keep them interested." NYC Queer and Sober has grown in the four years since it began, and now puts on events year-round, including a recent Oscars party. The movement is "taking off in a way that we never expected," says Christian. This year's Pride begins with an "Opening Ball" on June 22 and ends with a "Closing Cruise" on June 24.

Register before May 15th for a cheaper deal on tickets.