PRIDE Institute Celebrates 30 Years of Service to GLBT Community


For the past 30 years, PRIDE Institute has been a mainstay for the GLBT community in Minnesota. As the first “stand-alone substance abuse treatment center in the nation exclusively created to serve the LGBTQ community,” PRIDE Institute provides some of the most important support our community receives. For many members of the queer community, PRIDE Institute is to thank for the recovery and well-being of their loved ones and themselves.

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

Molly Gilbert, PRIDE Institute’s director of business development, recounts the significance of the center’s establishment in 1986: “We were initially created to be a safe space for the community to get well together amid the nation’s AIDS crises. Through our history we have learned that nothing equals the safety of being surrounded by others who ‘get’ you.” Their sole focus on the queer community ensures that people get the specific help they need while acknowledging the distinct experiences and issues GLBT people may have.

When people are struggling with substance abuse, it may seem like any treatment center is going to solve the problem. Gilbert explains, “I can’t tell you the number of times clients come to us after having attended an ‘LGBT friendly’ treatment center, or some place that claimed to offer an ‘LGBT track’ only to find that they met once per week as the ‘token LGBT people’ within a largely heterosexual environment.” This outsider experience can impede the success of people struggling with homophobia (internalized or societal) and issues of gender or sexuality.

But for the queer community, the tailored treatment provided by PRIDE Institute sets their programs apart from other organizations. According to Gilbert, “Offering clients a safe environment in which to confront their substance abuse and the unique stressors they face as LGBTQ+ individuals living in a heterosexist society makes us inherently unique from all heteronormative treatment programs.”

PRIDE Institute also helps its participants address any unresolved issues about their identities due to the importance of honesty throughout the recovery process: “When clients are able to be open and honest about their authentic self, they are then able to focus solely on their recovery. After all, if it is OK to keep one’s sexuality a secret, then why not keep one drink or one pill a secret, too? At PRIDE Institute, honesty is a key to recovery.”

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

An additional benefit to PRIDE Institute’s recovery program is their Sexual Health Program, defined as “an intensive, clinically based program designed to cover the broad spectrum of sex and sexuality-related issues that often co-present with substance abuse.” Covering issues of sexual obsession, compulsive sexual behavior, and safe sex practices, PRIDE Institute addresses common links between substance abuse and sexual activity in order to help their patients fully recover.

There are several other ways that PRIDE Institute is designed to specifically support the GLBT community. For example, the staff consists of mostly out and proud members of the community, allowing for more recognition and respect of a queer person’s journey. And while the 12-Step program influences their treatment methods, PRIDE Institute offers alternative recovery plans for people who may not feel comfortable with the spiritual components of 12-Step.

Through its various treatment programs, PRIDE Institute estimates that they have had over 14,000 graduates since they opened their doors. For people who cannot make it to the Minnesota locations, PRIDE Institute also helps connect queer people with the best resources in their area to address their needs. Additionally, the business development team travels across the nation to help train healthcare providers and treatment centers in how to care for the GLBT community’s needs.

As former graduates from the program can attest, the support PRIDE Institute gives its participants doesn’t stop once they check out of treatment. Gilbert explains, “Being surrounded by members of our own community, clients have a unique opportunity to start to create their own chosen family who will continue to support them in their new, sober life.”

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

Photo courtesy of the Pride Institute

The PRIDE Institute wants to remind our community that Pride season does not have be about getting wasted: “Celebrating ourselves can be done with self-respect, dignity, and yes, it can be done sober.” There are many sober-affirming events planned over Pride, such as the Fruit Bowl at Memory Lanes in Minneapolis on Friday, June 24. Gilbert adds, “It’s a great way to start off the Pride weekend with family, friends, and little ones, with positive examples of members in the community having sober fun.”

Gilbert encourages anyone with concerns about substance abuse to reach out to PRIDE. “Not all people who are LGBTQ+ need to go to PRIDE Institute to get sober. But those truly struggling with internalized shame, trauma and internalized homonegativity really do need a place like PRIDE. Give us a call if you have questions about yourself or a loved one; we will do everything we can to help you.”

To thank PRIDE Institute for their dedicated work, or to learn more about how they help our community, visit

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