Gabriel Arrington (he/him, they/them) is the Secretary of the Board of Directors and a co-founder of Peter’s Place RVA. He is a born-and-raised Richmonder. Gabe has struggled with mental illness, substance misuse, self-injury, and an eating disorder throughout his life. He used these addictions to deal with the pressure of being a closeted trans person in a conservative, religious community. Gabe’s illness culminated during their early days at Virginia Commonwealth University, where they found a collegiate recovery community and from there got connected with 12-step meetings, recovery coaching, and later an eating disorder treatment center. In 2019, Gabe publicly came out as transgender and in 2020 celebrated two years of continuous sobriety. He has spent his time in recovery as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, a peer support worker at Rams in Recovery, president of an LGBTQIA+ affirming religious organization on campus, and as an in-home personal care attendant. Gabriel remains active in their recovery communities and attends multiple kinds of fellowships, including 12-Step and All Recovery. He is passionate about disability justice, size justice, trans joy, and his cat, Poptart. Gabe and their partner reside in Church Hill.
I'm on the board of Peter's Place because I, like many of us on the board, know what it means to be a young queer in recovery. I've felt that deep fear and loneliness we feel walking into 12-step meetings, support groups, treatment centers and recovery houses and realizing I'm the only trans person in the room--likely the only queer person in the room sometimes, too. I don't want other LGBTQIA+ people who are in or seeking recovery to have that experience. I want our homes, our recovery communities, and our support environments to be as safe and accessible as possible. Peter's Place RVA seeks to create that safe, compassionate atmosphere where those who have been oppressed and abused because of our identities can be welcomed and supported in a room full of people who, for once, look a little more like us.
The biggest thing I wish I'd had on my first day in recovery is encouragement and hope from people who have been through it and come out alive on the other side. I'm so grateful to have that now, and to be able to share it with others.