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Partying sober for Pride in Vancouver

Clean Sober and Proud hopes to create more options hosting Untoxicated on Davie Street this year

The Clean Sober and Proud float (pictured above) won best float in the 2013 Vancouver Pride parade. Credit: Ross Johnson

Members of the queer community in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction will once again have a space of their own to party this Pride.

In collaboration with the Vancouver Pride Society, the Last Door Recovery Society will host its signature Clean Sober and Proud event, Untoxicated, on Sunday, Aug 2 in the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot on Davie Street starting at 7pm.

“You can have as much fun during Pride sober,” says Giuseppe Ganci, Last Door’s director of community development. “It’s just about creating choice.”

“There’s nothing wrong with partying,” he adds. Untoxicated is simply about creating options and raising awareness that there are other ways to celebrate Pride than drunk and high.

Ganci says Clean Sober and Proud is not affiliated with any 12-step program.

“This is for anybody who wants to celebrate Pride in a drug-free environment,” he says.

Last Door staffer Don Presland is proud of the increasing popularity of Clean Sober and Proud’s float in the Pride parade. The colourful float was voted Best Float in 2013, and the contingent now draws more than 100 participants.

“It shows we’re not a boring bunch of people,” says Presland, who received the Pride Legacy Award for Volunteer of the Year in May.

Ganci and Presland say the popularity of both Untoxicated and the group’s parade entry suggest that recovering alcoholics and addicts are becoming more comfortable with coming out publicly as being in recovery.

Twelve-step programs are by their nature anonymous but some are now shedding that cloak of anonymity.

“Clean Sober and Proud is a way to come out of the closet,” Ganci says. “End the stigma of addiction.”

Moreover, Ganci says, the event and the parade float show young people coming out that involvement in the queer community does not necessarily involve getting wasted to have fun.

Headlining the entertainment at Untoxicated this year is Alaska Thunderfuck from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“It was only after cutting alcohol out of my life and re-evaluating my relationship with this substance that I was able to find my inner strength and voice as an entertainer and as an artist,” Thunderfuck says. “I think this event will be amazing and I’m looking forward to it!”

The lineup also includes local performers Crystal Clearly, Celestial Seasons, Cadence Winter Matthews, Alma Bitches, Scizzor Fairy and more.

The Vancouver Pride Society believes everyone deserves to be involved in Pride and all barriers to participation should be addressed and removed, executive director Ray Lam said in a news release.

“This event shows that you do not have to drink or take substances to enjoy or celebrate Pride and is an important part of our annual festivities,” he says.