Plenty of options for staying sober at Pride

Not drinking doesn’t mean having to be a buzzkill

Pride week in Halifax means tons of chances to party—but where do you go if you want to be dry? Don't worry. Being sober at Pride doesn't have to be a buzzkill.

Only a handful of Halifax Pride events are officially 19-plus, however Pride chair Willem Blois does admit the overall program lists many boozy events.

"We're always trying to create events that are accessible," he says. "That's a huge thing for us.

"But we do know there's a huge portion of the community that wants to go out, and they want to enjoy a dance party and they want to drink."

This year's Pride features the annual Wetspot dance party, Cosmic Drag Queen bingo, a strip spelling bee and a no-cover dance party (among other events). All told there will be roughly 40 opportunities for Pride-goers to imbibe.

This can be an issue for people under the age of 19.

Youth Project director Kate Shewan says Pride week provides an opportunity for LGBTQIA youth to be themselves without worrying about the backlash.

"Outside of the Youth Project, a lot happens in bars," says Shewan, "which is fine for a lot of people but is not great for everybody."

All events run by the Youth Project are drug and alcohol-free.

"Often, the youth will be subject to homophobia in schools," says Shewan. "To actually be in an environment where they can celebrate who they are is really empowering for them."

One of the Youth Project's big events is the Pride Youth Dance at the Garrison Grounds, which is open to youth under 19. (Other Youth Project events are open to everyone under 25.) "Last year was the first year that we did it, and I think it was a big success," says Shewan.

That said, there are older folks who need sober options, too. While some have small children, others are dealing with addiction. The party atmosphere can also be intimidating.

Blois does recognize it's an issue, and says Pride's trying to add more to this year's spread of activities.

"We realize a lot of the events in the [Pride]guide take place at bars," says Blois. "We're trying to—not take them away at all—but just trying to add some more diverse events."

There are film screenings, a comedy show at Yuk Yuks, and a family picnic—Halifax Pride's only Dartmouth event.

For people recovering from addiction, there will be an open recovery meeting at the Lord Nelson Hotel on July 25.

"We want anyone who comes to Pride to know that, if they come, they'll find something that they feel accepted at," says Blois. "It might not be organized by us directly—it might be organized by a community member or community organization. But, it's there for them."

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