We asked the OUT Community what kind of articles they wanted to see from us, and we were overwhelmed by the number of people looking for more information on sober activities and spaces. According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, “25 percent of the general LGBTQ+ community has moderate alcohol dependency, compared to 5 to 10 percent of the general population.”
Though sometimes it feels as though drinking is ingrained in queer life, those who cannot or choose not to participate in drinking deserve spaces where they feel comfortable. Sobriety can feel alienating when we lack access to inclusive spaces that don't revolve around drinking. We’ve compiled a list of creative options for when you want to get together with friends, both day and night, without drinking.
Host a no-booze brunch for you and your friends! Make non-alcoholic mimosas, virgin bloody marys, and do a DIY waffle bar. Get elaborate and provide a full spread of toppings, like caramel, nutella, and warm blueberry sauce. After brunch, play a card game or two and continue to enjoy each other’s company.
Not only are there endless benefits to volunteering in addiction recovery, but it’s also incredible to take time to give back to your community. Get a few people together and have it be a reoccurring activity that you do as a group. Whether you’re new friends or old, it’s a great way to get to know each other on a deeper level. Find a cause you’re passionate about and start volunteering!
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, get a group of sober friends together and start a hiking club. It doesn’t have to be anything formal but try to get together on a semi-regular basis. You can use the hike as a time to talk about your sobriety and how it’s going. A fun addition would be to take a moment to meditate at a point along the hike. This is a great way to connect with friends and nature.
I know a lot of ski and snowboard culture involves drinking, but that doesn’t mean you have to partake. Get a small crew together and hit the slopes for a guaranteed good time. Also, several mountains offer night skiing, which is a great option for a fun nighttime activity, too!
Start or Join a Sober Sports League
Sober sports leagues are so much fun. Normally adult intramural sports revolve around drinking- with some even being “cup-in-hand” leagues. So, you avoid all of those triggers with a sober league. You can form your own by recruiting sober buddies and AA friends, or join a league near you!
Invite a few of your closest friends over to your home for a spa day. You can have some light snacks out, fun non-alcoholic beverages, and a full spa set-up:
- set the mood with candles and flowers
- put on an oil diffuser
- put on a relaxing playlist
- have a foot bath, face masks (sheet masks), DIY face mask station
- have a group meditation and yoga session
Host a clothing swap party with a few of your close friends! It’s a perfect opportunity to rid yourself of clothing you don’t wear and gain a few new pieces! Set a few rules, like the number of items each swapper needs to bring. A clothing swap party is a win-win for everyone.
There are only a handful of sober bars, but if you’re lucky enough to have one in your city, it’s the perfect sober hangout. Not only are you likely to make a sober friend at the bar, but you can also rest easy that no one is going to offer to buy a drink with any sort of alcohol in it.
This may sound silly to some, but it can be a great distraction when you’re newly sober. You can spend a bit of time getting dressed up and looking good. Then, find a friend or a few friends who want to join in. Have the photoshoot at home or go out and find an interesting location near you.
Sober Dinner Party
Host a sober dinner party and pull out all the stops. Course out the meal and pair each course with a signature mocktail. It gives you and your guests a chance to try new recipes and feel fancy for a night.
Take an impromptu car-camping overnight trip or plan a full-on backpacking trip. Either way, camping is a great way to disconnect from stress and reconnect with nature, yourself, and others.
Bars with Activities
If you are far enough along in your sobriety and you want to join your friends at a bar, I would suggest going to a bar that has something going on. That way, the focus isn’t entirely on drinking. Bars with dancing, karaoke, pool, axe throwing, trivia, an arcade, or live music are all great options.
Queer Sober Spaces
Body Politic, NYC
They are a queer feminist wellness collective and they put on alcohol-free events regularly, including book clubs, workshops, and hikes.
Safer Spaces, NYC
Pre-pandemic, Safer Spaces NYC hosted a Sober Queer Mixer at Think Coffee, for games and conversation. Check out their facebook group for updates!
little woodfords, Maine
Queer-owned coffee shop for the “morning gays”. The owner brought this shop to Portland, ME because, as he says, "In Portland right now, there really are not many queer spaces and that's a problem that we need to continue to work on as a community.”
Giovanni’s Room, Philadelphia
Long-running, LGBT-focused bookstore in 2 buildings with a large inventory of new & used books.
Freed Bodyworks, Washington, D.C.
Freed Bodyworks is a body-positive and queer-focused holistic wellness center focused on creating a safe space for all bodies. They offer massages, workshops, yoga, and even mental health services.
The Hangout DC, Washington, D.C.
We are a substance-free, inclusive, and accessible queer space that fosters authentic connection.
At Queer Kentucky, they “aim to educate, entertain and instill pride and hope" all throughout Kentucky. They host events all throughout the state, and some are sober/wellness-focused.
Sis Got Tea, Kentucky
“A tea shop that she hopes will provide a safe, alcohol-free social space for Louisville’s black queer community that is accessible to people with disabilities".”
Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, NC
Independent outfit for fiction & nonfiction works, plus book clubs, author events & organic coffee. They also have a monthly queer book club meet-up!
Queer Sober Social, Chicago
Queer Sober Social hosts virtual and in-person events in Chicago for any sober or sober curious person who identifies along the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and/or as non-binary. The sole purpose is to socialize in a safe environment without drugs or alcohol.
Squirrel Chops, Seattle
Squirrel Chops is a community gathering spot that’s part hair salon, part coffee shop. It’s female-owned and highly rated.
Ori Gallery, Portland
A “creative and community-organizing space for trans and queer artists of color.” They also offer free or low-cost workshops for the LGBTQ+ community and artists of color.
Cuties, Los Angeles
Cuties is a Black & queer-owned community space providing resources and events, both virtually and in-person, to the LGBTQIA+ community. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Cuties began as a coffee shop and safe space focused on providing queer community and a place to gather that wasn’t centered around alcohol.
Bloom & Plume Coffee, Los Angeles
Queer and Black-owned, Bloom & Plume offers an inviting space for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. They serve delicious food, drinks, and the playfully bold decor makes it a photo-worthy spot.
Castro Country Club, San Francisco
A legendary queer gathering spot that serves coffee, food, and hosts 12-step meetings throughout the day, for those in recovery.
Wicked Grounds, San Francisco
18-&-over coffeehouse, gallery & adult boutique featuring fetish-themed products, artwork & events. Completely sober space.
Queeret is a “global movement” uniting queer introverts by providing monthly events called Qalm, which offer quiet, sober spaces for coffee and conversation.
Dance Church, Virtual
Dance Church® is a movement class that offers a fun and inclusive approach to dancing. Designed for people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, and identities, Dance Church is a communal space for people who want to move their bodies.
more sober resources