Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Sobriety on the Sand provides safe place for those in recovery
More than 200 gay men are expected at the inaugural Sobriety on the Sand (SOS) event Sept. 21–23 on Mission Bay at the Marina Village and Dana Hotel. This three-day event is a celebration of sobriety, unity and some end-of-summer fun. SOS’s mission is to provide gay, bi and allied men with a clean and sober experience that combines fun, friends, food and activities that will enable them to grow in their recovery. It is designed to open new possibilities for these individuals to live life fully and find ways to become more effective stewards of recovery and in the community. It is open to men of all ages and all backgrounds.
On Aug. 26, a fundraiser at AxeVentures in North Park kicked off the SOS event with money raised going towards scholarships to men who are experiencing financial hardships. SOS expects to provide at least 25 scholarships at the September event. Proceeds from the weekend will benefit recovery-related nonprofit organizations by providing grant opportunities, managed by the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation.
Charlie Huettner, SOS chair, said this is the first year of the new gay men’s sobriety retreat. He said there are similar events around the country called Round-Ups, but that this event is more spiritually centered.
“It’s an event for gay men to come and be in a safe place,” Huettner said. “Especially men who are in recovery. The goals we have for this event is to show that when you enter into recovery is that life can be fun. One of the things men in recovery first think when they come into recovery is that their lives are over, no more drinking, no more drugs, no more partying. These events are an attempt on our part to let them know that the party doesn’t have to end.”
Heuttner said they hope the event becomes an annual occasion. Previously, there was an LGBT Round-Up in San Diego for more than 30 years, but it shut down a year ago. Another gay men’s event in Palm Springs called Hot and Dry also ended. Huettner said they are trying to fill in the gap for these missing venues for men in recovery.
“I was only two-months in recovery when I went to one of these events and it totally changed my life,” Huettner said. “I was an ex-circuit boy and thought my life was over, but I went to an event and found out that it was actually fun.”
The three-day event is focusing mainly on activities — including a big party on Saturday afternoon with a DJ and a big bonfire on Friday night — so that the activities will allow people to hang out and get to know each other.
“That’s what it is all about,” he said. “Getting to know people and building relationships.”
There will be six workshops on Saturday with a wide range of subjects, such as living with HIV, healthy sexual relationships, spiritual and inner work. The breadth of workshop subjects is an attempt to have something meaningful for everybody that attends.
“Whether you just want to come out and hang out at the beach, or go to workshops and learn something new, that’s fine,” Huettner said. “We are serving food. We have a catered banquet on Saturday night, and pizzas for lunch. We are trying to provide meals for everyone all weekend, so people don’t have to leave and come back.”
Huettner said there are a lot of people coming from out of town due to reach out and getting them to come and see San Diego, so there will be a good mix of people from all over.
“People coming from out of town are very excited about this event because they love coming to San Diego,” Huettner said. “I believe that we are also the only ones that have an event like this by the water. We want to showcase San Diego, and the beach is what San Diego is all about. On Sunday we are doing a brunch at Ortega’s in Hillcrest that is open to anybody. It was important to bring some part of the weekend back to Hillcrest. We’re doing a fixed menu brunch. This event is open to anyone in recovery, you don’t have to be registered. This way, people that are unable to come to the event can still be a part of it.”
Dorian Brewer, SOS sponsorship and outreach coordinator, said that SOS has been partnering with organizations in San Diego because it believes charities should help charities. Live and Let Live Alano Club is helping with food for the event. SOS is cross-promoting with the Red Dress Party San Diego and other organizations to get the word out and let people know that they can be sober and still have fun.
“We thought there was a need for this [event] here,” Brewer said. “People can expect to meet new people in a sober environment, from all types of recovery groups, and get together in fun and fellowship and enjoy themselves. Maybe learn a little something too.”
For information about reservations, accommodations and sponsorships, visit sobrietyonthesand.org.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.