LGBTQQIA* community needs sober spaces

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LGBTQQIA* community needs sober spaces

Gay day at Audubon Zoo provides sober fun for LGBTQQIA* community.

Gay day at Audubon Zoo provides sober fun for LGBTQQIA* community.

Gay day at Audubon Zoo provides sober fun for LGBTQQIA* community.

Gay day at Audubon Zoo provides sober fun for LGBTQQIA* community.

Sarah Simon, Views Editor

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This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Southern Decadence, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride event filled with booze, parades and carnival competitions, begins Sept. 1. During this event, the LGBTQQIA* community must ask itself whether or not this is a meaningful way to celebrate LGBTQQIA* culture.

The basis of this question is one that is often brought up in the community: is this event being inclusive enough? LGBTQQIA* culture must confront its relationship with alcohol, especially for young members of the community and people who are sober.

LGBTQQIA* drinking culture has a long history, with gay and lesbian bars sitting at the forefront of the movement towards equal rights. The Stonewall riots of 1969, where the LGBTQQIA* community reacted to a raid of the Stonewall Inn, a historic gay bar, marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York City was a cultural epicenter and meeting place for the LGBTQQIA* community.

Now, pride events welcome an amalgam of community members and straight allies alike. Straight people get to act as tourists, entering the world of LGBTQQIA* life for a day or a weekend. Southern Decadence opens a space for straight people to come join the party without the consequences of actually identifying with the social setting.

Straight people can leave whenever they want. They do not need to interact with the politics or come out to parents and friends, risking relationships. They do not have to worry about housing discrimination or job discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sober members of the LGBTQQIA* community do have to deal with these issues, as do LGBTQQIA*-identifying children and teenagers.

If straight people can tag along, it becomes even more problematic that some parts of the LGBTQQIA* community cannot. There are many memoirs and essays lamenting the experience of being sober and queer. When bars and clubs are incredibly common meeting places for LGBTQQIA* persons, it becomes hard to meet people and to feel like a member of the community. Nobody who identifies with the LGBTQQIA* community should feel uncomfortable or unsafe celebrating their identities.

LGBTQQIA* people show higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. This could be attributed to the presence of bars and clubs as the most prevalent cultural centers for the community. Because substance abuse exists to such a high degree, sobriety is an issue for many LGBTQQIA* people. This must be taken seriously. These community members need support. They need the affirmation that comes with celebrating Pride. As a society, we need to provide more spaces for sober community members to celebrate pride safely.

Clearly, more LGBTQQIA* events that are not based around alcohol need to exist. One such event, Gay Day at the Zoo, will happen Oct. 2 at Audubon Zoo. This event encourages LGBTQQIA* people to visit the zoo, see some cool animals and hang out with other LGBTQQIA* people. It does not sell itself as a big party and, therefore, does not attract a huge straight population.

We need more Gay Days at the Zoo. We need lesbian clothing swaps and genderqueer art gatherings. While some aspects of LGBTQQIA* Pride can still come from alcohol centered events, we need Pride in forms other than parties and parades. 

Sarah is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]