Let’s be honest: it’s hard enough to find queer community out in the real world (as opposed to online, where it’s…maybe a little too easy.) When every event is centered around drinking, drugs, and partying, it can be hard for newly-sober folks (or folks simply uninterested in drinking) to find friends that will last.
The good news is, if you’re queer and sober, you are not alone. It might take a little more effort to seek out meaningful relationships in queer spaces, but it can be done. Whether you’re moving to a new place, trying to build a lifestyle that supports your sobriety, or are simply in want of new friendships, here are some ways to find queer community without having to go to the bar.
Find Virtual Spaces
Look, I get it. You’ve felt cooped up and miserable and terrified for the past few years and you want to get out there and meet people IRL. But may I remind you that virtual spaces—be they on discord, social media, Letterboxd, or wherever you happen to find them—can also help you find forever friends without the added awkwardness of having to stand around in a loud room where everyone already seems to know each other. If you have a life-defining interest, start with that. There are so many groups, channels, and even threads where you can find intelligent, like-minded people who actually want to engage in real conversation.
Find a Mocktail Night Near You
Although there are many who would prefer not to enter a bar while sober (completely understandable,) some bars have an impressive mocktail menu and even offer mocktail nights where the queer and sober can freely mix and mingle without feeling the pressure to drink. If there are any queer bars near you, find out if they have a sober night. If they don’t, suggest it!
Make Your Own Event
When all else fails, we have to make our own community. This could start as a small, COVID-safe games night hosted at your house, or a picnic in a local park. Get creative! Try hosting a crafts night or a movie night! The possibilities are actually endless, and we’ve got TikTok to prove it.
If you’ve got the time and the resources, try volunteering somewhere that needs it. Maybe you give a few hours of your week to a local gay organization, or library, or grassroots org. You could even find a business that means a lot to you (a local movie theater, craft store, book shop) and ask them if they need any extra help. You’re bound to find some friends there and bond over shared interests.
Join a Gay Sports Team
When all else fails, try rugby. But in all seriousness, folks, what’s better than a team sport to get you out of the house and making fast friendships? Being on a team of some kind creates quick, healthy bonds, and who knows? Maybe you’ll make some friends for life.
The bottom line? It’s not easy to make friends or find community no matter what age you are, or what your relationship to alcohol is. The important thing is that you take the time to try. Building friendships takes work, but the reward is better than anything you could have dreamed up us a lonely queer kid hoping for a better life.