I am responding to the article titled 'Alcohol: Use or abuse?' in the 7/16/2008 issue. I am glad to see an attempt at an open discussion on this matter is being made. Like the other scourges that affect the broad spectrum of our community, alcohol is no friend. The destruction it has brought to many lives can only be heard in the recovering community. That is why it is extremely important that the voices from this community be heard from. In my opinion, any forum dealing with this topic must be held in an environment where all members of the various communities that comprise the GLBT community feel welcome.
Substance abuse is the overindulgence in and dependence on a drug or other chemical, leading to effects that are detrimental to the individual's physical and mental health, or the welfare of others. It is not about management of the substance, as some in your article would have you believe, nor is about what bars and/or bar owners have done for the community. It is also not about how much money liquor companies spend in the GLBT communities for their branding purposes.
Rather, it is about the welfare of a lot of our community members—young and old; male and female; and the various people of color communities. It affects not only us, but also our straight allies. It is at epidemic levels and, therefore, it is wrong to sell out our human dignity for the possible benefits of either businesses that sell alcohol or those who do not have benefit of moderate consumption. We do not have the luxury or time for debates about abuse and/or dependence. This not about management of alcohol intake, it is about dealing with addiction and those who profit from this addiction.
Our mental health professionals have a responsibility to bring objectivity to this discussion, which affects the mental welfare of so many of our respective communities that make up the GLBTA Community. Surely, alcoholism cannot be about maintenance in your opinion. What message are you sending to the community at large, and specifically to our recovering community, when you are willing to host such a forum in a bar without concern for their input or welcome?
We have many churches that have opened their doors to our community in the past, and I am sure, if approached, they will respond in a loving and welcoming manner. Or, certainly, Alderman Tom Tunney can be of assistance in finding an adequate space that will not alienate those voices that must be heard from in this forum. We have built a wonderful community center to host such meetings—I cannot understand why you would choose a bar to over a non-threatening environment for our recovering community. All in the community must feel welcome to attend this forum; if not, you do a disservice to both yourselves and your community.
I would like to beg the organizers of this very important forum to reconsider their location so that all may feel welcome, thereby insuring an honest and open discussion on alcoholism and its effect on our communities. Truth demands that we speak honestly to each other on this most important topic.
Rainbow Sash Movement