History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous: From the Beginning

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Overview

The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous documents and honors the ways thousands of LGBT people have carried Alcoholics Anonymous' message. This illuminating chronicle includes interviews and documents that detail the compelling history, recovery, and wisdom of gay people in AA. The book examines the challenges AA faced as the fellowship endeavored to become a more inclusive and cohesive community. The first-person accounts narrate the important work of influential gay and straight AA members that led key events in AA’s history. The author includes material on the steps and traditions of AA, and on becoming 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
  • much more
The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous is an enlightening book for members of the LGBT and heterosexual recovering community, alcoholism and addiction professionals, as well as physicians, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, clergy, historians, sociologists, educators, students, and anyone interested in learning more about AA or this aspect of the community’s history.
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What People Are Saying

Sally Brown
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)
Thomas Weston
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)
Thomasina Borkmman
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)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgments. PART I: FROM THE BEGINNING, 1935–1970. 1. The Recovering Gay Community. 2. Barry L. and the Gay Origins of AA’s Third Tradition. 3. Alcoholism and Homosexuality: A Brief History of Treatment. 4. Five Views of Sober Gay Life in the 1950s and 1960s. 5. Finding AA: Groups, Directories, and the First Gay AA Meeting. 6. Printer’s Ink: A Conversation with Nancy T. 7. Special Purpose Groups and the Debate over Meetings for Gay Alcoholics in AA. PART II: BUILDING SOBER COMMUNITIES, 1970–2004. 8. Washington DC. 9. New York. 10. New Jersey. 11. We Never Looked Back: A Conversation with NALGAP Cofounders Drs. Dana Finnegan and Emily McNally. 12. San Francisco. 13. AA’s Pamphlet for Gay and Lesbian Alcoholics. 14. The Home Front. 15. On Our Way: A Conversation with Lillene Fifield. 16. Pass It On. 17. Side by Side in Southern California: Alcoholics Together. 18. A Few Conclusions (and Mysteries Solved). Appendix A. The Steps and Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Appendix B. List of Narrators. Appendix C. Becoming an Ally. Notes. Selected Bibliography. Index.

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