This week-end, I am moved to ask, “Are there lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement to be learned from the LGBT Pride Movement?” I ask because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and this week-end is Pride Week-end.
City Hall is lit up in pride colors.
The annual Pink Triangle installation took place on Saturday, which commemorates the gay victims who were persecuted and killed in concentration camps in Nazi Germany starting in 1933 through the end of WWII.
The Pride Kick-off Party was held at the Fairmont’s Pavilion Room and Garden Court, and Friday news reports were estimating the turn out would be around 2 million people (SF’s population is around 826,000).
And it’s not just happening in SF! It is also Pride Week-end in New York City, St. Louis, the Twin Cities and the City of St Petersberg (FL). There’ve been Pride week-end celebrations in so many other cities this month, as well as others that have already taken place or are planned for later in the year. And these are no small events! There are parades, art exhibits, music festivals, family picnics, kick-off parties….
Not only all of this, but the sponsors for these various celebrations are companies we all know: Wells Fargo Bank, MasterCard, Washington University in St. Louis, Dominos Pizza, Pickles Deli, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, DietCoke®, Delta Airlines, Netflix, BudLight, Sky Vodka, Marriott, Whole Foods, Burger King, Target, AARP, Virgin America….
I am thrilled and in awe of what the LGBT Community has done to raise awareness, to shatter the stigma and shame, to thwart the notion that a person “chooses” to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and to help the general public at large understand and accept members of the LGBT Community for what they are – PEOPLE.
Are There Lessons for the Addiction Recovery Movement to be Learned From the LGBT Pride Movement?
I grant there are definite differences between the Addiction Recovery Movement and the LGBT Pride Movement. There is not the family wreckage of secondhand drinking | secondhand drugging (aka codependency) that accompanies addiction, for example, nor is there the cost and necessity of treatment for a brain disease with its hallmark relapse factor. But there are significant similarities. There is the public notion that addiction is a choice; that people with the brain disease of addiction are bad, weak-willed, morally corrupt; that having this disease means you should be terminated from your job; that recovering from this disease should be kept a big, fat secret; as well as society’s general failure to see those who struggle with this disease or who are living healthy, happy lives in recovery as PEOPLE.
So I ask – what lessons can the Addiction Recovery Movement learn from the LBGT Pride Movement so that the more than one-third the American population affected by this brain disease, whether they are the person with the disease or the person who loves, lives and/or works with them who are experiencing their own secondhand drinking-, secondhand drugging-related health and quality of life consequences, will rally in Addiction Recovery Pride and step boldly into the light with week-end celebrations featuring huge parades, art exhibits, music festivals, family picnics and kick-off parties; with City Hall domes lit in recovery purple and with national brand event sponsors. Most importantly, I ask: What lessons can the Addiction Recovery Movement learn from the LBGT Pride Movement so that those with and those affected by this disease will be treated with respect and support in their homes and families; in their workplaces, schools and communities; in their legal and judicial bodies and by their health care services providers – most importantly, I ask, what lessons can be learned to help the general public at large understand and accept members of the Addiction Recovery Community for what they are – PEOPLE.
And Please Know…
These questions are not to take away from the huge inroads that are being made in the Addiction Recovery Movement thanks to Faces and Voices of Recovery, ManyFaces1Voice and SAMHSA’s Recovery Month and the hundreds of other organizations and millions more individuals who’ve been fighting for DECADES the stigma, misinformation and shame that still keeps addiction, addiction recovery and secondhand drinking | drugging lurking in the shadows.