Matthew Bianchi was saved. Yes, you read that right. And he’s not at all shy about telling you he believes in God. “I am a spiritual person who has found a renewed relationship with God,” he told the Los Angeles Blade.
But it wasn’t something that just came out of the blue. He spent years addicted to prescription opiates and benzodiazepines, an addiction so intense it drove all of his closest friends away and nearly destroyed his family.
“My mother was exhausted doing everything possible to keep me alive and to get the help I needed,” he said.
“After a couple of failed rehabs and detoxes, finally I surrendered to the powers of the universe or what I like to call God. And that made everything a thousand times easier. I let go of control and gained a completely new perspective on my life and things around me instantly.”
He entered treatment at Gosnold on Cape Cod in 2005 (a third attempt) and spent nine months there before realizing he had found not only a spiritual calling but a professional one too.
He returned to school at the University of Boston and became a credentialed substance abuse counselor, working for the treatment center that helped save his life.
Today, Matthew is helping to build Pride Recovery LA, a solely LGBTQ outpatient treatment center in WeHo.
He jumped in like an entrepreneur, branding the agency and focusing on outreach, business development and establishing it as a refuge that increasingly focuses on the needs of people struggling with methamphetamine and sex-addiction.
“In recent months, several people have died from methamphetamine that is enhanced with fentanyl,” he said with great urgency in his voice, as if reaffirming his commitment.
He has also taken a special interest in building recovery and intervention services for trans people.
“Everything is so connected,” he says.“Many of us grow up to find ourselves traumatized by a million cuts of marginalization, losing access to our families, our faith and the basic support system we thought would never fail us. Some of us get lost trying to negotiate that pain, soothing it with substances that slowly replace us. That’s where my passion comes in.”
The recovery community of Los Angeles is huge. AA offers dozens of meetings every day in Los Angeles and there are sober living services and rehabs in just about every neighborhood, many of them LGBT specific.
“I know we can be a healthier community. We are rich with resources and love. Life does get better, if you let go and let god.” Matthew said.
And with that he laughed aloud, “Why just last night my husband surprised me with a trip to LAX and this morning I woke up in a Mexican jungle town. Thank god I am sober and can experience love…and Mexico.”
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came into my sexuality around the age of 15. I never had to “come out” because I have an older brother who is gay who came out years before and laid the path for me.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My partner, Roger, who faced significant adversity and the things you would expect a gay man to experience who lived through the 80’s.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Mulholland Drive Overlook after nightfall
Describe your dream wedding.
Small, out of the country, closest family and friends. The dogs. No tuxedos and no tulle.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Veterans who are not getting the well-deserved respect and care that they desperately need.
What historical outcome would you change?
Aside from thousands of years of the heinous torture of LGBTQ people?, The decimation of the Mayan culture.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Discovering Grace Jones
On what do you insist?
Honesty, Starbucks and turn signals on the 101.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Facebook post about my partner taking me away for my 30th birthday.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
THE COURAGE TO CHANGE
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
No attachment, no separation, no beginning and no end.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Thank you and keep fighting!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To save a life.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we are all the same.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Anything that properly portrays our culture and educates others about who we are.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Not wearing white after Labor Day .
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Seeing a client happy with years sobriety.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The answer to this question.
Why Los Angeles?