LGBTQ

Denver PrideFest Has Its First-Ever Designated Sober Space

Denver PrideFest happens June 25-26.
Denver PrideFest happens June 25-26. Ken Hamblin
For the first time in the 46 years that the Center on Colfax has been putting on Denver PrideFest, there will be a dedicated sober space at the Celebration. The Center organizes and produces the festival and parade each year, and it is its largest fundraiser of the year. The Center seeks to engage, empower, enrich and advance the LGBTQ+ community of Colorado.

“Social isolation and pandemic-related stress have contributed to an increase in substance abuse," says Jon Pushkin, spokesperson for the Center. "This can be especially hard on people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Because we want everyone to be able to enjoy PrideFest, for the first time Denver PrideFest will feature a sober area where adults eighteen and over who want to avoid alcohol can find a safe space to enjoy the festival. They can enjoy non-alcoholic drinks in a comfortable setting without worrying about triggers that might interfere with their recovery.”

We talked to Debbie Scheer, a well-known speaker, emcee, auctioneer and leader in the LGBTQ+ community, about her role in spearheading and supporting the sober space at PrideFest. Scheer, along with others with a commitment to a sober space, are volunteering their time and resources to help make this first iteration come together. The area will be located just north of the center stage at PrideFest, June 25-26.

Westword: Why was it important to you to help make this sober space a reality?

Debbie Scheer: I have been a volunteer for PrideFest for seven years, and this is very important to me as a sober person for four years this coming August.

What can folks expect at the sober space?

This is activation within PrideFest put on by the Center, and people over eighteen can enjoy non-alcoholic drinks from the bar including coffee drinks, energy drinks and sodas. You will get to meet folks from local nonprofits that are sober and queer-affirming. There will be games, and we hope, eventually, as this grows, we will have our own entertainment and stage, so we need people to show up so we can do that!

Where can people find the sober space?

It is located just a few steps away from the main stage, and there will be a sign. And the space will be operating the same hours for both days of PrideFest.

Who is this space for?

It is for folks eighteen and over — really, for anyone who wants it. This is for people who identify as sober, people who love people who are sober, or maybe those who are not sober but who want a break from being around people who are drinking.

Why is it important to have a sober space at PrideFest?

Our community is a very diverse one, and as we continue to create spaces that include everyone in our community, this is a big step in the right direction. This is the first year, and I’m excited to see how people respond. We look forward to having it grow each year!

Denver PrideFest, June 25-26, Civic Center Park, 101 14th Avenue. For updated information on the sober space at PrideFest, go to SOBER SPACE @ Denver Pride Fest on Facebook.
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