WEST TOWN — An LGBTQ group is scaling up its events this year to provide more booze-free spaces for queer people as sober events become more popular.
Queer Sober Social, founded in 2020, organizes monthly meetups and bi-weekly video calls and maintains an active online community. Hundreds of LGBTQ+, sober adults have connected with each other through the group, leader Carly Novoselsky said.
The goal is to create a space where queer, sober adults can foster strong relationships, explore their identities and support each other, Novoselsky said.
“Since there’s these two core values everyone in the group holds, it’s so easy to make friends because we can talk about our identities and sobriety, but we can also go so much deeper because we already have that in common,” Novoselsky said. “I never really understood how people found their chosen families, but I can wholeheartedly say I’ve found mine through this group.”
Queer Sober Social started after Novoselsky and a few of her friends from a meetup group for sober women said to each other, “This group is great, but where are all the queer and non-monogamous people?”
Novoselsky’s friends formed Queer Sober Social and hosted two packed meetups before the pandemic shut everything down. Novoselsky took over and started organizing weekly Zoom meetings, and the group grew as people from all over the world joined the calls.
“Having these online chats during the pandemic, I started to see that there really is a need for a space where people can meet each other and talk about normal things, like dating and the pandemic and all the craziness going on,” Novoselsky said. “If we can just take a break for an hour to focus on building community with each other, that’s the goal.”
Novoselsky said she’s watched people join the group and get closer to each other, becoming best friends or dating.
“We keep it really fun. We take the social part of our group’s name seriously, and we try to make it an escape from the craziness of the world,” Novoselsky said.
As Queer Sober Social continues to grow, Novoselsky hopes to host more frequent meetups in more neighborhoods and register the group as a nonprofit so the members can fundraise and provide mutual aid.
Novoselsky also co-hosts a podcast with fellow Queer Sober Social member Rajiv Khattar where they interview guests about their relationships with alcohol, gender and sexuality. You can listen here.
“I’ve seen people transform through this space,” Novoselsky said. “It’s a place for people to experiment with different pronouns or try out different names because no one’s judging you.
“There are people in the group who barely interact with any queer folks at their jobs, and they have to code switch and not be their true selves, so to be able to come here and not worry about any of that, it builds more authentic, deeper relationships than drinking or using ever could.”
When Novoselsky stopped drinking and using drugs about six years ago, it was months before she met another sober person, she said. Getting connected to a supportive community helped immensely with her recovery, she said.
“I remember how alone and alien I felt,” Novoselsky said. “It was like I was the only person in the world trying to navigate getting sober at such a young age. If I had even a fraction of the community I have now, it would have impacted me so much.”
Whether you’re experimenting with drinking less during Dry January, recovering from addiction or have never tried alcohol in your life, there’s space for you at Queer Sober Social, Novoselsky said.
“Dry January doesn’t have to just be a month; there’s so many cool people here exploring themselves outside of substances, outside of gender and sexuality norms,” Novoselsky said. “You have support here. There’s people waiting to meet you.”
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: