PCA spent several months working with a small group of treatment providers to create an intervention and an installation into the Denver Gay Pride Celebration this year. Under the banner of Colorado United for Addiction Recovery, an approach was decided and produced with the intention of infusing recovery philosophy and reality into the weekend through visibility and celebration.
We had a booth at Pridefest, gave out prized, posted signs that read “Sober Is Sexy”, I’m glad to be Sober, Proud to be Gay”, etc. There was a 2nd booth which was air-conditioned to remind folks that Recovery is Cool. And there was a Sober Pride Dance held at a local Sober Gym with Celebrity Drag Queen DJ Chi Chi LaRue.
There were several hitches in all this production. There were several teaching moments and almost everyone involved had at least one story that caused their heart to open.
What I learned in this process was how resilient I must be in order to create these events. I am not always right. It doesn’t have to be my way. Through all this when it’s not my way, it’s still fine.
I have to say I was disappointed in 2 issues. The air-conditioner in the 2nd booth didn’t operate to the level that the event team we rented from had claimed. It seemed a big disappointment that inside this booth was not as “cool” as I had envisioned. With sass, however, life reminds me that my own recovery is not “cool” in the way I had hoped. This is a blessing too as hindsight reminds me it is much “cooler” than I could have ever imagined.
I had amazing conversations in the open-air booth with festival goers who had not connected to sober/recovery communities in Denver since they moved here or since they got sober. I realized there is an unmet need. And I loved having people take selfies and pics with the signs promoting recovery to send out to the bigger world at large.
Similarly, I felt disappointed at the turnout for the sober dance. I had hoped for several hundred on our first attempt. But we got around 110 party-goers. What struck me though were 2 things: 1) Everyone that came to the dance had less than 2 years of recovery. Apparently they haven’t found their recovery-supportive community yet and were in search of such. 2) Everyone that attended wanted to be there. They danced and danced for at least 2 hours.
I was surprised though with the DJ Chi Chi LaRue. I had not expectations, but was really pleasantly surprised at such a down-to-earth demeanor and professional approach. The PCA Board all loved their interactions with her and she was so responsive and supportive of the revelers. Chi Chi’s personal experience with recovery took a back seat to her responsibility and role at the dance, however I believe the gifts she has received from sobriety make way for her very beautiful attitude. I hope we get to work with her again.
There is more to digest and distill from this colorful and celebratory weekend. I have let go of my disappointment and made room for inspiration. I am grateful I got to be involved in grass-roots social marketing. I might be hungry for more. It might be worth looking at creating an in-road for people looking for recovery support in our community that is easier to access. And is fun.
I’ll leave you with this post from a PCA Board Member- “I’m 56 days sober today, and this is my first Pride sober. Thank you for hosting this fun dance for me.” – quote from a beautiful soul at Sober Pride Dance last night.
Many thanks to our sponsors. Please visit http://www.soberpride2017.com and visit their sites.