Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gay Central Valley at Sober Stock 2012



Written by Leon Velasco


Soberstock is one of the largest recovery events in the state of California. The day is  filled with live music, a car show, children’s carnival, vendor booths, raffles, testimonials, guest speakers as well as information about substance abuse treatment and prevention.
  

Sober Stock was very fun. I got there early and met with Brian Bradley of Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health; and to set up, and decorate the booth as rainbow-ish as possible. I must admit that for my first year at Sober Stock I was a little nervous at how participants and attendees would react to a “GAY” booth being at a non-gay event. The only thing that kept me focused on standing my ground is to promote that we share a commonality in any society; the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. 






We were there to meet a goal which was to network with other organizations that may have LGBT clients seeking help but want to be in a “safe” environment that they can find that isn’t just going to judge them on their addiction, but their sexuality. Kayleia Southard arrived in great spirits, she was wonderful in helping tabling the event.

We had many people give us positive feedback, expressed appreciation (in Hugs & hand shakes) for stepping out of our comfort zone (gay events) and reaching out to “straight events”. There was also (for some people) shock and excitement in finding gaycentralvalley.org having a booth representing the LGBT community. I am not going to leave out those that raised eyebrows at us and would walk on by after Kayleia and I would say “Hi”.

We did great in promoting our support groups and opened up many networking lines with other organization's NON-LGBT specific that attended. (HOLD YOUR HATS) WE (Kayleia & I) were recorded for radio interview re: being an LGBT Org in a NON LGBT/Christian based setting. What did we expect and what was the outcome. The big question... "Will you return?".... YES!

Kayleia and I got swamped with questions; we passed out MANY Shares Cards, Support & Social Group Rosters, Pink Pages and Rainbow Delegation fliers. and made many referrals to Pflag for those who are just finding out their children are coming out to them and want support groups. Some youth found it easy to find their way secretly to our booth and wanting referrals to groups, friends or family that have an LGBT member and want to refer them to our support groups or ways to be better allies.

In all, I would have to say it was a huge success and would believe to speak for Kayleia as well; that it would have an equally great turn out for next year’s Sober Stock event. 

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