What is now a global collective of LGBTQ folk in recovery, Gay & Sober (GS) initially began as a private Facebook group for gay and sober men in 2009. 

Since then, what GS says is a “one-of-a-kind” recovery group, has blossomed into a worldwide online community that facilitates both online and in person sober events as well as being a hub of resources and support for LGBTQ individuals seeking recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. 

“What started as a private group on Facebook called Gay & Sober Men in the summer of 2009 has mushroomed into what is now the largest recovery group of its kind on social media,” GS organizers said in a statement. 

Executive Secretary, Landon Harless said that things really started taking off in 2011 when GS CEO and Founder Christian Parker started a precursor to GS called Queer and Sober. 

According to the organization’s website, (gayandsober.org), the support group is a “one-of-a-kind” 501c3 non-profit organization that empowers community members to lead healthy, successful lives.” 

From GS organizers: “Gay & Sober has expanded to offer monthly free LGBTQ community workshops, a conference, and an official component in the pride festivities.”  

Those festivities include two annual events, an international conference that celebrates recovery, an LGBTQ contingent in the NYC Pride Parade and an alcohol-free dance party. 

Harless says that GS events adapted to an online venue during the pandemic, an action he noted as being something many were grateful for. 

“During the shutdown our online events were a pretty important part of recovery for a lot of people,” Harless explained.” We had online workshops and seminars that were offered during the shutdown that really helped people supplement their recovery program during times of social distancing.” 

GS also created an online sober support group in 2019 on Zoom that later changed to an in-person group in July of last year in response to COVID-19. 

“The pandemic was really the main reason why we created the online group and was part of our response to COVID-19,” Harless explained. “There are some events held that are geared toward a specific demographic of the LGBTQ community, whereas others are geared toward serving all LGBTQ individuals. 

GS holds an annual event in New York City that focuses on the celebration of living a life in recovery from addiction. Several hundred men spend three days together for a series of workshops promoting health and wellness, have special guest speaker meetings and other entertainment. 

“Once a year, we hold a special men’s event in New York City that is devoted to celebrating recovery from alcoholism & drug addiction,” a GS spokesperson explained. “For three special days, hundreds of fellows are brought together for a weekend of innovative health & wellness workshops, big speaker meetings, spiritual growth, and top entertainment.” 

The organization also sponsors a celebratory Pride Day for the entire LGBTQ community that includes marching in the parade and attending a nighttime dance and fireworks show held at the Hudson River. . 

In addition, the non-profit recovery group also funds a scholarship program for alcohol and drug abuse treatment, offers an exhaustive list of LGBTQ 12-step meetings around the globe, and provides ongoing and engaging health and wellness programming and messaging, 

GS aims to celebrate diversity and stand up for newcomers in recovery. “We proudly celebrate our community’s diversity and advocate for those that are new to the journey of sobriety,” the website states. Their mission is simple: to provide a safe, fun, and enriching experience to the sober community. Our primary purpose is to encourage unity and enhance one’s sobriety. 

“The vision of GS is to lift up others, particularly those who are new in recovery, and to model a lifestyle that aids in the process of relinquishing individuals from addiction and shows them how they can lead fun, fulfilling, and sober lives,” the GS spokesperson continued. 

“In the spirit of unity we come together to support and love one another and to show others – especially beginners – that it is indeed possible to be happy, joyous, & free in sobriety.” 

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