Staying fierce and sober during the holidays

“If you’re not drinking, you’re lazing around” is a common saying in drag performances, which can make clients and sober performers uncomfortable. Some of Canada’s best artists are trying to change that attitude.

“I decided to stop using alcohol because I began to realize that my mental health needed it. It was one of those moments where there was a turning point, ”says Tiffany Boxx, host of Toronto’s Play Date Brunch. “I was at a point where I drank so I wouldn’t feel my everyday emotions, thoughts and conflicts.”

Now she’s 16 months sober and nursing a soda on stage to discourage patrons from serving her with drinks, a common practice at generally interactive shows, and she’ll plan to leave parties where friends drink long before midnight or shortly after.

Problems with alcohol and drug use are much more prevalent in LGBTQ + communities than in the general population, research shows, and the drag artists who spoke this week as part of Edgewood Health Network’s Fierce and Sober virtual event They said they did it to let people know that drunkenness is not a prerequisite.

“The advice I like to give younger queer people is to understand that just because in a lot of queer spaces we congregate in nightclubs and event spaces and things like that, it doesn’t necessarily have to go hand in hand with substances,” he said. . Kendall Gender, who has been sober for almost six years and recently competed on the second season of Drag Race of Canada.

She said therapy was the biggest help early in her sobriety journey, and sharing her story of hitting rock bottom was a way of helping others that “makes all the pain seem so much more beneficial.”

BOA took about two years, a Endurance race Contestant who spoke openly about dealing with addiction, as well as ADHD, eating disorders, and even sexual assault during the first season of the Canadian version, moving from acknowledging the negative impact that drinking and partying had to eliminating it of their life.

“It wasn’t until I got sober that the demons really came out. Like, oh my gosh, girl, it wasn’t right, ”she recalls. “I worked on my own, reflected and grew. It was a job, but I’m so happy I did that job because now I’m a goddess, “she said, laughing and adding that now she is more emotionally involved, more spiritual, and her drag performance has also improved.

BOA performs during a virtual discussion about her and other drag artists’ journeys toward sobriety. Photo via screenshot

All the artists gathered said that the decision to stay away from drinking and / or drugs had to be a personal one if it was to be sustained, and that everyone’s journey is unique.

“Take it at your own pace, you don’t have to compare your sober journey to anyone else’s,” said Perla, who had a hard time starting sobriety in Calgary but later moved to Toronto and found support.

“Take it at your own pace, you don’t have to compare your sober journey to anyone else’s,” said Perla, who had a tough time starting sobriety in Calgary but later moved to Toronto and found support in bars and nightclubs in the gay district of the city.

From his early Church Street shows, he said other performers made sure bartenders knew about his situation and would pull out soda shots if an audience member wanted to buy him a drink.

She is outspoken on social media about this facet of her life and says it’s important to share stories like hers because “you never know who’s listening, you never know who’s struggling, who her story might resonate with.”

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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