Addiction in the Queer Community
As members of the Tribe of Other that is the LGTBQ+ community, we are raised on a force-fed diet of heteronormativity that ingrains in us a sense that what we feel is wrong even before we understand what those feelings are. If we show weakness or vulnerability, we’re acting like a bitch or a pussy and we need to man up.
As if that wasn’t enough, our community feeds on itself, perpetuating harmful stereotypes and stigmas while segregating into perceived classes based on arbitrary and meaningless superficial goals. We’re supposed to be proud while our contemporaries quietly laugh at our expense when our voice is too masculine or too feminine, our bodies too skinny, too fat, too hairy, or too smooth. The pressure to fit someone else’s ideal is a lot. For some it can be too much.
Drinking and drugs are rites of passage granting entrance into the grand ballroom of queerness. The only gathering spaces in many areas are bars and dance clubs, and you don’t want to be the one who goes out and doesn’t drink, that’s just tacky. Pride celebrations are primarily underwritten by alcohol companies, doing their best to encourage the idea that consuming their beverage equals #GAYPRIDE.
Some of us begin to use drugs in an effort to let loose and have a good time, but what we’re running the risk of doing is stifling our feelings of not measuring up, not fitting in on our own. Some of us can use recreationally – a lot of us, actually. And it’s because of this unspoken experience that we willingly ignore our queer siblings who fall into a pattern of increasingly harmful behaviors. To talk about addiction in the queer community is to pull the curtain back and risk exposing our own involvement.
I’m not implying that everyone who drinks is addicted to alcohol or that everyone who uses recreationally has a problem. But until we can shine a light on issues like addiction in the queer community, we don’t stand a chance at doing anything to improve it.