Fear and Loathing in AA

Two things that have been going on in my little corner of AA.

First, the loathing.

I’ve been going to AA meetings since 1978 at a fairly steady pace.  I’ve lived at both sides and some places in the middle of the US and have attended AA in all the places I’ve lived.  I’ve been to a lot of meetings.  I can’t say that I’ve never, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve never, heard anything anti-gay before last Tuesday, when, apropos of nothing, the gentleman speaking at the discussion meeting I was at (which has been meeting since 1955, they say) said, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

I need to also say that I don’t “look” gay.  People would not automatically identify me as gay although here, where I live, I know that Carole is fairly well known (by at least one in ANY given four people – OK maybe that’s an exaggeration, and by four out of five random AA members) so I am pretty well “out.”  Just adding this here because I realize that people who are easily identifiable as gay have probably heard more anti-gay things than I have, although I hope and pray these things were not said in the context of an AA meeting.

I don’t know what the guy’s point was.  I hope it wasn’t to make people like me (or much much newer and more vulnerable than me) uncomfortable, so they would leave.  Because to cause me to leave AA would be to sentence me to death.  And gay, straight, whatever – he has no right to sentence me to death.

I added the part about all the meetings I’ve been to because I don’t remember this happening before, so obviously it is not prevalent in any way.  Obviously it is one man’s problem.  Before he spoke, a man who had recently moved to the area was saying how the folks of AA welcomed him and didn’t care that he’d done a decade in prison, among other bad things.  We don’t care.  He is welcomed.  I have no idea what he went to prison for and it might have been pretty bad.  The anti-gay comment in this context was actually bizarre.

After I told Carole not to leave, “Don’t let him chase you from an AA meeting,” she spoke and said how wrong the comment had been.  The guy tried to interrupt and the chair yelled at him that he had his turn.  After Carole, others spoke about being accepting, “the only requirement,” and how some of them had been judgmental but AA had helped them have that character defect removed, how “mixed” meetings of gay and straight people are “good” and fun and welcoming.  So maybe it was actually a good thing.

Later we were talking about “what’s my part?” in being upset with what he had said.  My mind goes right to gratitude.  I almost always fail to appreciate how accepting, welcoming, inclusive and wonderful the people of AA are.  Or, if they hold intolerant attitudes, they don’t feel comfortable or appropriate in expressing them.

I have some of those attitudes myself.  Here is another piece of “my part.”  I am intolerant of different things than that guy, but intolerant nonetheless.  It brings to mind a line from a Melissa Etheridge song – “Not so black and white, the color of my sin.”

And now this got really long so I’m going to leave the fear part for another day.  Today I will be pushing the gay agenda.  Getting the porch roof painted, walking the dog, practicing the guitar, cleaning the litter boxes, watering the flowers, and obtaining equal rights.

6 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in AA

  1. That comment was truly off the wall, and offensive. One of our region’s old-timer, with a kajillion years sober, is gay. He is known for being one of the strongest sponsors in the area and the guy to go to if you are serious about the Steps. He is loved and respected and if a comment of that nature was made in a meeting that he was attending, the person making it would feel the chill. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter that Tom is gay and has a zillion years in recovery, we cannot afford to exclude anyone in these rooms from what this Program has to offer. Newcomer or Oldtimer. To drink is to die.

    I am really sorry that happened.

  2. Thanks so much. I remember the story that when they sent to groups for their membership requirements, in early AA, all put together they would have excluded everyone!

  3. I love your gratitude. My experience has also been that the love and acceptance of AA members far outweighs any hatred and intolerance, although my wife and I did have ugly comments thrown at us when we attended an AA New Year’s dance and had the audacity to, um, dance. Overall though it’s been wonderful.

      • I do think homophobia is unacceptable in AA and needs to be challenged. Out here we have problems with racism and sexual harassment of women and members being assaulted after offering lifts. I can’t say I’ve experienced as much tolerance as you have but I have met good people. In meetings I am very guarded and self-protective though, work hard to keep ,meetings safe for women.

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