History, recovery, and wisdom from lesbians and gay men with long-term sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for gay people convene in regularly in more than 60 cities in the United States and in 20 countries world-wide. Thousands of LGBT people have changed their lives for the better using the principles of AA. The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous documents and honors the ways they have carried AA's message. This illuminating chronicle presents interviews, transcripts of recordings, and documents that detail the compelling history, recovery, and wisdom of gay people in AA.
The social stigmas against both alcoholism and homosexuality are still strong. As the debate over the full inclusion of gay people in our society continues, Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the world's most respected organizations, has also grappled with this issue. The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous documents the challenges AA faced as the fellowship endeavored to become a more inclusive, cohesive community. The first-person accounts maintain appropriate anonymity while revealing the important work of many AA members, both gay and straight, leading to key events in AA's history. Appendixes review the steps and traditions of AA, the list of narrators, and ways the reader can become an ally to LGBT people on the road to recovery..
Topics in The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous include:
• The gay origins of AA's Third Tradition
• A comparison of treatments for alcoholism and homosexuality
• Compelling portraits of sober gay life in the 1950s and 1960s
• The debate in AA over meetings for gay alcoholics
• Interviews with members and co-founders of the first gay AA meetings
• The history of the first gay AA/Al-Anon conference
• Interviews with pioneering gay addiction professionals
• The history of AA pamphlet "AA and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic"
• Alcoholics Together, and why a parallel AA organization for gay alcoholics formed in southern California
• Strategies AA's gay members developed to make their meetings simultaneously safe and public—and why some of them are still necessary today
• And much more!
The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous is important, enlightening reading for members of the LGBT recovering community, heterosexual members of AA and other 12 Step programs, alcoholism and addiction professionals, physicians, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, clergy, historians, sociologists, educators, students, or anyone interested in learning more about AA or this aspect of their community's history.
This GROUNDBREAKING book about an important but little-known part of the history of Alcoholics Anonymous belongs on the shelves of every alcoholic and addict, straight or gay. Counselors, clinicians, clergy, and their teachers will find it an invaluable resource. Audrey Borden has done a MAGNIFICENT job of interweaving over 30 fascinating interviews of influential LGBT AAs and their contributions, spanning 50 years to the present, with factual information about the gradual acceptance by Alcoholics Anonymous itself. I wish my husband and I had had this excellent account ourselves when we wrote our own book about Marty Mann, one of AA's earliest leaders. (Rev Sally Brown, MS, MDiv, United Church of Christ, Board Certified Clinical Chaplain, Ret., Coauthor with David R. Brown: A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann: The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous)
The author lets a number of people speak in their own voices, from their own powerful and moving experiences. These are voices that have not been heard enough over the past years. I was very impressed and edified by the quality of hope, faith, and service that they point to and draw from. . . . SHEDS LIGHT ON A LONG NEGLECTED TREASURE TROVE, and I am grateful that this is now available to fellow searchers and seekers. . . . USEFUL AND HOPEFUL AND MOST WELCOME. The men and women interviewed here are wonderful to meet, and wonderful to listen to. (Fr. Thomas Weston, S.J., Oakland, CA)
ADDRESSES AN IMPORTANT AND LARGELY IGNORED TOPIC—gays and lesbians in Alcoholics Anonymous—through fascinating accounts from gays and lesbians in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York who have been sober for many years and have lived through the changes in attitudes and treatment of gays and lesbians in the larger society and culture and within AA. This FASCINATING book is AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP IN CHRONICLING AND UNDERSTANDING THE EXPERIENCES OF GAYS AND LESBIANS IN AA and is a window into the ways in which AA is like and unlike the larger society. Borden covers how the Third Tradition was developed in the 1940s which opened AA to all who suffered from their drinking. She sensitively deals with the pros and cons of separate gay/lesbian meetings and the attitudes of many that they should also be welcome and feel comfortable in general AA meetings. As in the larger society, there were many closeted gay meetings in the 1950s known only by word of mouth, but by the 1970s era of advocacy that began to change with open struggles found in various communities. As one narrator summarized, while AA had its biases and limitations in welcoming gays and lesbians, AA was also more accepting and less prejudicial than the larger society. (Thomasina Borkmman, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Emerita at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA)
Audrey Borden has been involved with the recovering community in the San Francisco Bay Area since the early 1980s. She has a Bachelor's degree in Geography from Portland State University in Oregon, and has been writing professionally since 1983. She lives with her family in Marin County, California.
Part I: From the Beginning: 1935-1970
Chapter 1. The Recovering Gay Community
Chapter 2. The Gay Origins of AA's Third Tradition
Chapter 3. Alcoholism and Homosexuality: A Brief History of Treatment
Chapter 4. Five Views of Sober Gay Life in the Fifties and Sixties
Chapter 5. Finding AA: Groups, Directories, and the First Gay Meeting
Chapter 6. Printer's Ink: A Conversation with Nancy T.
Chapter 7. Special Purpose Groups and the Debate Over Meetings for Gay Alcoholics in AA
Part II: Building Sober Communities: 1970-2004
Chapter 8. Washington D.C.
Chapter 9. New York
Chapter 10. New Jersey
Chapter 11. We Never Looked Back: A Conversation with NALGAP Co-Founders Drs. Dana Finnegan and Emily McNally
Chapter 12. San Francisco
Chapter 13. AA's Pamphlet for Gay and Lesbian Alcoholics
Chapter 14. Stories from Florida, Oregon, North Carolina, Illinois, and Texas
Chapter 15. On Our Way: A Conversation with Lillene Fifield
Chapter 16. Pass It On: Ali M. (Santa Rosa, California)
Chapter 17. Side by Side: Alcoholics Together in Southern California
Chapter 18. A Few Conclusions (and Mysteries Solved)
Appendix A. The Steps and Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
Appendix B. List of Narrators
Appendix C. Becoming Allies