Summer doesn’t necessarily have to mean excess — GLL’s Health and Wellbeing Coach Taofique Folarin explores mindful drinking and sobriety
Summer is fast approaching, and with it, beer gardens start to buzz, parks pop with play and prosecco and our social calendars begin to fill with barbecues and soirées. An exciting and joyful time, but for some of us, it can also be a very triggering atmosphere to endure, a time of overindulgence and isolation. To my friends out there who are sober, in recovery, thinking about giving up or mindful that you are doing too much and want a less messy social night out, read on.
There are many reasons why members of the LGBTQ+ community can tend to drink more and party harder than our hetero peers. Depression and stress are known factors in addition to internalised homophobia: the need to have a few drinks to be comfortable in one’s skin or get intimate with someone else shouldn’t be overlooked. UK-based charity Stonewall found that 42% of gay and bisexual men drink three or more times a week, compared to 35% of men in the general population. The stats are even more worrying when it comes to levels of binge drinking. According to research from the LGBT Foundation, 34% of gay and bisexual men binge drink at least once a week compared to 19% of men in general. Furthermore, 47% of transgender people drink at ‘high and potentially problematic levels’, according to Trans Mental Health Study 2012.
As things begin to heat up, It’s helpful to take a little time out to reflect on our drinking and party habits and enact any necessary changes needed to better look after our wellbeing and health through the summer. There are many fun, sober social groups to join that will not result in a horrendous hangover and plenty of organisations to access if you need help. Here are just a few.
This site is a great place to start. It offers all sorts of LGBTQ+ sporting groups providing fun, exercise and socialising all in one package, with everything from tennis, hockey, swimming, squash, water polo, rugby, soccer, and rowing.
The Gay Sober
As well as sports clubs, you’ll also find social groups on MeetUp, such as this one that organises regular afternoon get-togethers for gay men who are sober and do not use drugs.
Will You Be There, Darling?
Probably London’s biggest MeetUp group for gay men looking to make new friends and find socialising opportunities, with several events not in bars – there have been recent outings to concerts and film screenings, for example.
Found in Bethnal Green, this gorgeous new queer venue and bookshop provides LGBT+ people with a safe space that isn’t wholly alcohol-focused. Although there’s a bar – that serves mocktails – you can also find a cafe. A restaurant is planned for the future.
This is an occasional sober rave held in London and across Europe that was started to be a mental health safe space aimed primarily at queer and trans people of colour. Check @miseryparty on Instagram for more info.
Queers without Beers
As the name so pithily suggests, this is a queer night out with no alcohol and a lovely mix of LGBTQI+ people from all kinds of backgrounds.
A global mindful drinking movement that helps you live well by moderating or quitting drinking. There are resources on the website, plus listings of bars in London that offer the broadest range of alcohol-free options.
Gym and Tonic
Drinking alcohol regularly can negatively affect your performance in the gym. It weakens your coordination and may impair judgement, stunting your ability to perform at your fiercest level. In the strictest sense, alcohol is essentially empty calories, in that they provide no nutritional value but instead can slow down your metabolism. This can act as a barrier to achieving your fitness goals.
Exercise is an excellent alternative to having a drink. The dopamine release that you get from working out may prevent you from turning to the bottle to achieve the same result and it’s the perfect calorie-burning method to relieve stress and cope with negative feelings. If you’re trying to cut down or give up entirely, try going for a run to relieve your stress — your mind and body will thank you
Gay & Sober’s mission is simple – to provide a safe, fun, and enriching experience to the sober LGBTQ community.
The LGBT Foundation is a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to queer communities.
The UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ charity with a mission to support the health and mental wellbeing of queer Londoners.
A branch of London Friend, this helpline is available to discuss your drug or alcohol issues
020 7833 1674 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday)
If you seem to be having trouble with your drinking, you may be interested to know something about Alcoholics Anonymous and the AA programme of recovery from alcoholism.