MiniEpisode 5 Carla
Elena Joy: Welcome to Out of Queeriosity, your Field Guide to Queer Pride. This is a production of Pride and Joy Foundation and I'm your host, Elena Joy pronouns, she/her. You have found a bonus episode. Our theme this year is Your Voice, Your Power. We are using it to pursue our mission of preventing suicide and homelessness in our LGBTQ plus community by amplifying your voice and your power.
Our bonus episodes feature the voices of the most recent graduates of our keynote queers program. This is our eight week online course just for LGBTQ plus participants to learn public speaking skills as well as the knowledge to build public speaking into an extra form of income. Whether our participants were pitching their own small business or upleveling their presentation skills for their corporate career, or just learning how to effectively move audiences to take action.
Our keynote queers gave a hell of a graduation presentation and we are here to share it with you. Can you even imagine squishing an entire keynote into just 10 minutes? This is considered expert level skills in the public speaking world. And it was our graduates capstone project. Check back in the summer of 2023 to hear from another keynote queer graduate.
Now let's get to it.
Our next keynote queer is Carla ferrucci, pronouns she / her. Okay. I love that Carla has the best first line in her bio ever. Are you ready? Carla ferrucci has been fighting the power her whole life, and it's so true. It gets even better from fighting neo-Nazis with anti-racist action to holding batterers and sex offenders accountable as a crime victim advocate to fighting big corporations at the legislature.
Carla works to improve systems so that the voices of the voiceless are not only heard. But at the table, Carla's skills come from her professional work in law and politics and the nonprofit sector, plus their passion for helping folks use their personal power to change the systems that oppress them.
Carla is currently two plus years alcohol-free and on a path of healing from long held trauma. Carla is one of five founders of Sonder Recovery. The first LGBTQ plus focused online peer recovery support organization in the country. By sharing her lived experience, Carla leaves audiences inspired to positively change their lives and thereby impacting the world around them.
With her presentation, Queering Recovery, I give you Carla. Ferrucci
Carla: It's a sunny hot afternoon in the 1970s. We were having a barbecue. Parents back then did a lot of things parents would never consider doing now. One of those things was having your kid bring you your cocktails. Some parents even had their kids make them.
My mom asked me to bring my dad a drink while he was in the garage grilling. I still remember the glass. It was super cold. It had ridges on the outside. And as I was carrying it, I could smell the drink coming out of the glass. It smelled kind of sweet, a little spicy, super tempting. So I took a sip out of it.
Instantly, my throat started burning as the liquid went down, and I was like, oh my God, what did I just do? Did I just break myself? That feeling was quickly replaced with this slow, warm sensation that went down my whole body. I was both excited and scared because I knew I wasn't supposed to be drinking it.
And I figured when I handed my dad his drink, he was gonna know that I took a sip out of it cuz I was sure it was written all over my face. I handed him the drink and he went back to the grill. I probably brought him three or four drinks that day, and I took sips out of each one. By the time I brought him the last one, the sidewalk started to move away from me, and I started to feel really weird.
Not good at all. I went inside the house. I told my mom I wasn't feeling well, so she put me to bed. I closed my eyes and it was just as if I blinked because when I opened them, it was the morning. That, my friends, was my first hangover and I was six years old. That morning was the beginning of a long and tenuous relationship with alcohol, high school blackouts at punk rock shows, keggers, random blacked out hookups mixed with lots of shame and regret starting and stopping. Starting and stopping, starting. It lasted a lifetime.
When we were asked to shelter at home, we didn't know how long we were gonna be there. We didn't know if it was gonna be a few days, perhaps a few weeks, but none of us really knew. Many of us sheltered with our kids and our spouses or significant others, but I sheltered alone. Cabs and Stoli became my best friends. Starting and stopping didn't happen during the pandemic. It was just starting, starting, starting before the pandemic. I used to set all of these guidelines around my drinking.
I would say, I'm not gonna drink Monday through Thursday. Or if I was really good, I would say, I'm not gonna drink Sunday through Friday, leaving Saturday open for me to get wasted. But now all of those rules went out the window. Spring went into summer starting, starting starting. George Floyd was murdered and the uprisings that followed made my town the national news.
I got wasted watching my neighborhood burn. The drinking continued into the fall when finally one day I woke up at one o'clock in the morning, which is what happens when you get wasted and pass out at three in the afternoon. I looked at myself in the mirror and I mean, I really, really looked at myself. I looked into my bloodshot eyes. I saw my puffy red face. Carla, do you really wanna live because this, this feels like dying. I looked at the calendar. And realized it was close enough to the end of the year to try dry January. It seemed easy enough, another boundary filled process that would stop my lifetime of starts.
Now, I had done dry Januarys before, but this dry January was gonna be different because I committed to reading about alcohol and substance use disorder. I listened exclusively to podcasts about sobriety. I committed to learning more about what alcohol was physically doing to my body. I devoured all of the quit lit I could get my hands on.
By the third week of January. I couldn't unknow everything I learned. I couldn't unknow that the rates of substance use disorder in the queer community were twice as high as the regular population. I couldn't unknow that the chronic diseases directly related to alcohol consumption in women were increasing and that this increase overlap neatly with the increase in marketing of alcohol to women the last 20 years.
But I also learned that the opposite of addiction is community. I needed to find my community. I looked for online support because we were still in a pandemic. I knew I was gonna need help figuring out how I was gonna be social with my friends. Plus, I work in law and politics where drinking as just part of the job bars and clubs are also closely tied with the queer community.
They've always been our safe spaces. I mean, Stonewall was a riot. But it was also a bar. If I was really gonna move beyond dry January, I needed a community. The online community I found had a very different approach to recovery than what I had heard of in the past. It wasn't based on shame. You didn't have to reach rock bottom because I didn't feel like I had reached bottom.
My life wasn't a dumpster fire. In fact, in many ways I was on top of my game. Within this online community, there was a large, vibrant, and joyful queer presence. We quickly grew to love and support each other as we struggled in our first days, weeks, and months of sobriety. For several reasons, this community became inhospitable for the LGBTQ plus folks inside of it.
So what do queer folks do? We organize. We quickly moved to a discord server where we tried to put in place some of the safety net that had been pulled out from under us in the chaos of the
discord server, afraid of obscure sorrows, and it means the profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing by, has a life as complex as our own. Out of this leadership team, we were able to put sober support calls in place, created sober support content, and we developed a social space.
We became a 5 0 1 C three nonprofit. In fact, our anniversary is next week, and we are currently in entirely volunteer run, and some of the founders are with us tonight. Sonder is the first queer focus, peer led online recovery organization in the nation, and we have members all over the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Sonder is transforming lives by providing an inclusive and joyful community that empowers us to define recovery on our own terms. I hear every day from members in our community that without Sonder, their recovery would be in jeopardy. There are a few key tenets of Sonder that set us apart from traditional recovery support.
The first, we are not broken and we don't need fixing. Sonder doesn't believe that we're helpless. We believe that everyone's journey is different and they get to define what works for them. We rebuke shame as an effective method in a recovery practice. Two, it's all clear here. Queering Recovery liberates us from the shackles of shame in the idea that addiction is a moral failing.
Sonder is a safe space to practice recovery with a socially just community of folks who identify as queer or as a queer ally. Claiming space as queer centered is a radical act of self-care. Lastly, we are multimodal in our community. All recovery paths are valid and welcome. We have no requirement for sustained sobriety at Sonder.
You can start and stop. Start and stop. Or just stop. Stop, stop. Sonder is queering recovery.
Elena Joy: I hope you enjoyed this bonus episode featuring our Keynote Queer graduates. Coming this fall is the companion course OUTWrite Authors. This online six week course is a path to publishing class for queer authors of nonfiction books. If you're a thought leader, a business leader, or just have some amazing non-fiction words that the world needs to hear.
We want you in this class. Visit outwrite author dot com for more info. That's outright, O U T W R I T E authors dot com. A limited number of scholarships will be available. Thank you for joining us, Pride and Joy Fam. Until the next episode, be good to yourselves. I appreciate you.