How would you describe your outreach work & what do you hope to accomplish?
What I'm currently working on is creating space for the LGBTQ+ community within the recovery community. As it stands right now, I'm doing this by sharing my stories and experiences with queerness and sobriety as well as sharing the stories of other LGBTQ+ people in recovery.
Eventually, my goal is to create actual community where queer and trans people in recovery can meet each other, make connections and, have events/spaces free from drugs and alcohol to meet in real life. I want to create space for young queer and trans people to be able to enter the community without feeling like their only option is the club/party scene. I want to help the cis het white women (and men) who run recovery/sobriety spaces be more explicitly inclusive of queer and trans people.
Why is this work important?
Members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially women, are at a disproportionately higher risk of abusing alcohol and drugs than heterosexuals. Unfortunately, most of the resources you're able to find in the sobriety/recovery communities are run by and centered around white, cis, hetero people. Of the few sites/resources/blogs that are run by members of the LGBTQ community, there are very few who center the experience around queer and trans issues and experiences. The current state of the recovery/sobriety community is doing a disservice to a highly susceptible and marginalized population by not being more inclusive of queer and trans people.
One of the best ways to know you can do something or make a change is to see other people who are like you doing it. Having spaces where our stories are not only told but, visible and centered, can be life changing for someone who is starting to entertain the idea of sobriety.
What inspired you to embark on this path?
I got sober in January of 2016. Because I wasn't interested in attending AA meetings, the bulk of my sobriety community was/is online. I have made some amazing connections in this community and, in 2017, I attended a conference for women in recovery. While I was there - in a sea of mostly straight, white women - I felt both immense gratitude that we were all able to be together and like an invisible outsider.
As a masculine of center lesbian, spaces for straight women often stress me out and make me feel like I don't belong. I know I'm fully loved and accepted by all of these women but, where were the people like me? There had to be more queers out there who were feeling the same way.
While I was at that conference, I had the terrifying realization that I had to be the one to make the space for us: the queer and trans people who are in recovery, sober, working on recovery/sobriety and, curious about recovery/sobriety. I didn't know how I was going to do it, I just knew I had to do it.
How do you define community, and what communities do you work to engage with?
To me, a community is a group of people who are tied together with a unifying thread. This thread can be geographic location, shared experience, identity or, belief system.
The communities I engage with are the recovery/sobriety community and the LGBTQ+ community. More specifically, I seek to engage in the overlap between these two communities because there is very little representation of queer and trans people in the recovery community and vice versa.
How do you enlist your community in shaping the goals and methods of your project?
Up until now I've been operating based on the assumption that I can't be the only one who is looking for a queer space in the recovery community and making decisions based on my needs Over the next few months, though, I'll be engaging as many sober queer and trans people I can find to help shape the trajectory of the work I'm doing.
The main way I'll be seeking help is by talking to them and finding out what they want and what would be helpful for them.
Is collaboration something you incorporate into your practice? Why or why not?
Yes! I find that collaborating with members of my communities is one way I can help build a stronger connection and awareness within those communities.
Additionally, I'm not interested in all of the stories I tell being about me. One of my main goals is to ensure that I am able to share as many, diverse, recovery stories as possible. The community is ours, the stories should be all of ours too.
What feminist book are you reading right now & what do you think about it? Is there a particular quote or passage you found especially meaningful?
I just finished Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper and I am in love with this book!
To be clear, this book is by a Black woman about Black Feminism so, I know it's not actually written FOR me. I have pretty recently realized that the most effective way for me to be a feminist is to center what I do around BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ communities.
I am currently simply listening and learning from Black Feminists and other WOC so, I don't have a lot to say about it yet. Listening, reading and, amplifying the voices of Black women is much more helpful and important than my thoughts/feelings/interpretations of what they're saying. So - read this book! And every other book you can get your hands on that is written by a Black woman about their life and their feminism.
Something in Eloquent Rage that DID make me stop to write it down was this:
"Individual solutions to collective problems cannot work, no matter how personally empowering they may feel."
There's a lot to unpack in that one sentence, let it marinate.
How has feminism impacted your life personally?
My mother is a feminist.
Growing up with a brother who was 18 months younger than me could have looked very different than it did. I hear all sort of stories from women and girls about how they were treated differently than their brothers. My mom, my parents, did a fantastic job of not doing that. Since we were so close in age (he was in the grade below me in school) we had a lot of the same friends, were interested in a lot of the same things and, were always subject to the same rules.
Having parents who fully allowed me to choose how I dressed, what my hair looked like, what activities I did and, what toys I played with helped shape who I am as an adult. Having autonomy and freedom to express myself as a child and teen has given me the confidence to always be 100% myself, even when myself is awkward and dorky, because it has been reinforced throughout my life that I know what's best for me.
Who is your favorite feminist mover, maker and/or shaker?
Oh, that's definitely my friend and teacher, Holly Whitaker. She's the founder of Hip Sobriety and developed Hip Sobriety School to teach people how live their lives without alcohol.
Alcohol and alcohol abuse is often overlooked as a feminist issue but, Holly doesn't just address it as such, she tackles it. She talks about how many of the recovery options there are out there were created by and for men. She talks about how rates of heavy and binge drinking in women over the past few decades have increased at rates that far surpass those of men. She talks about how alcohol companies have been focusing their marketing on young women with fruity drinks and pink labels. She talks about how the best way we can be part of the resistance is to not numb out with alcohol.
And, perhaps best of all, Holly is open to new ideas, conversations and, learning from different perspectives.
I also highly recommend the book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women And Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston.
What are 5 ways our readers can support the work you’re doing?
- Read and follow my blog - LGBTteetotaler.com
- Follow me on Instagram at @MurphTheJerk
- Follow me on FB at LGBTteetotaler
- Share posts of mine that speak to you on all of those platforms
- Email me at LGBTteetotaler@gmail.com if you want to:
- share your story for We're Here, We're Queer!
- be included when I need feedback/opinions
- have any questions
Tracy Murphy lives in Portland, Oregon and is currently spending her time juggling, petting cats, hiking, working to amplify and share the stories of LGBTQ+ people in all types of recovery and, creating a community for queer and trans people in recovery to connect with each other.