Arielle Clark, 28, grew up in a sober household in Louisville, Kentucky, and was never drawn to alcohol. But when as a teenager she began her process of coming out, alcohol suddenly became ubiquitous in her social life.
“When I was growing up and I was kind of figuring out my sexuality, all of a sudden I was inundated with alcohol,” Clark told NBC News.
Going to Kentuckiana Pride, her home state’s largest gay pride celebration, at 16 was Clark’s “LGBT puberty” moment, she said. While she witnessed the heavy presence of alcohol at the event, she felt accepted. Her next milestone, friends said at the time, would be turning 21 and being able to go to the gay bars.