Davis Mallory Encourages Sober Celebrities to Speak Up: 'Imagine a Counter-Culture That Celebrates Sobriety' (Guest Essay)

Andrew Zaeh
Davis Mallory

"Influential people have the responsibility to lead by example, and it is my hope that being vocal about my sobriety empowers others to do the same."

The news surrounding Demi Lovato and her reported overdose kicked up a lot of emotions. My heart aches for her, and my prayers go out for her healthy recovery to sobriety. As someone who is sober, I look to her as an inspiration.

I am 1 1/2 years sober beginning on February 1, 2017.

It took me many years to realize that my best life is a sober life. I believe none of us should be using drugs or alcohol. I have never seen anyone drunk or on drugs living their actual best life.

We live in a society that tells us the opposite though: We are made to think that you are "cool" if you are drunk and on drugs. Famous people are shown drinking bottle service in the club; songs and movies glorify drugs and alcohol with references to using pills, popping molly, sipping sizzurp, getting high and taking shots. It's no secret that alcohol and drugs are a lucrative industry, and these products are marketed very heavily to us. But what is not being shown is the ruin they do to our lives, health, relationships and personal safety. Or how, once you try them, you can become addicted and they're very difficult to quit.

Why is it not cool to be sober? We live in this rebellious culture where it's "cool" to be bad, but don't we realize that this is greatly hurting and even killing us? It should be "cool" to take care of ourselves.

I had to go through plenty of mistakes to realize that sober living is better living, and at the one-year anniversary of my sobriety, my biggest realization and regret was that I had not started being sober earlier.

I found it very difficult to stay sober throughout my 20s, living in Atlanta where I frequented gay clubs and parties that were heavily centered around alcohol. I then moved to NYC, surrounded by a culture centered around even harder partying, with drugs including K, ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana and poppers running rampant. Moving to Nashville was no different a story: the city dubbed "a drinking city with a music problem."

In 2017, I decided for maybe the 15th time in my life to become sober, but this time was different for me: I had hit rock bottom. I was arrested in Nashville for a DUI in 2015 and then again in 2017 for a drunk fight with my then-boyfriend. I realized that if I continued to drink alcohol, it would ruin my life, my dreams, my career and any possible romantic relationship. My decision for sobriety is an act of self-preservation.

During my journey, discovering sober artists like Demi Lovato and Bonnie McKee made me feel encouraged and "cool" to be VOCAL about my sobriety on social media, at a time when I was embarrassed to talk about it. I felt like I wasn't alone.

After so many famous people have died from apparent drug overdoses and suicides recently, my mother asked me why I think this happens. I told her I think it partly has something to do with parenting. Parents can enable their children's addictions by teaching bad behaviors, but they also often spend more time trying to make a life for their children they want them to have, instead of making sure the children feel loved and empowered to be themselves. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ youth who are often made to feel unwanted in this world, even by their parents -- something I felt. Not feeling loved or supported by your parents drives people to seek love and acceptance from others, and often in self-destructive ways: through sex, drugs or alcohol.

There are not many non-alcohol and drug environments to socialize in our LGBTQ+ community. We have pioneered the “love is love” movement, but the next movement I'd like to see a shift towards is creating a healthy world for us to live our true best lives.

Imagine a counter-culture that celebrates sobriety as being cool and champions the aftereffects this does to one's life: a healthy glow, making wiser choices, quality sleep, participating in loving, non-toxic relationships with other people, accomplishing your goals, and actually living your life to the fullest -- this should be taught to our LGBTQ+ youth and all society.

Influential people have the responsibility to lead by example and it is my hope that being vocal about my sobriety empowers others to do the same.

Davis Mallory is a Nashville-based pop singer/songwriter who released his debut EP Loud last year. He also appeared on The Real World: Denver back in 2006.