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Grapevine : February 2011
There was very little, if any, in- formation that was gay-positive back then, and there was certainly noth- ing on TV---no celebrities could risk coming out. In high school, I hung with the druggies, so no one cared if I didn't date girls. My grades and my attitude were terrible, but I managed to graduate and because of my SAT scores I got into college. I started to meet others who were gay, and drinking was a huge part of our subculture. I was 18 when I met my first partner, who was 26. He owned his own business and supplied me with all the alcohol I wanted. I pretty much stopped tak- ing anything else but alcohol. That seemed to make my parents and my partner happy, and I could drink as much as I wanted. In the beginning he made me feel special and, for the first time in my life, attractive. I didn't realize that his drinking was a problem as well. What followed were several years of an emotionally abusive relation- ship, but I assumed this was proba- bly as good as it would get. I decided to go back to college and thought then I would feel OK about myself. The last semester that I drank I was on the dean's list. I worked full-time and I just assumed, due to my lack of self-esteem, that if I could do it, a well-trained chimp could do it. I was miserable, trapped in a sick relation- ship, and my life seemed hopeless. I don't know that I actually wanted to die; I was just so tired of hurting. IBELIEVE now that a Higher Power led me to AA, through a series of people. My life was un- manageable. I didn't think I was bad enough to need to go to AA meetings, though. I feared that people in AA would know I was gay and make me leave. I was too afraid to go to meetings in the town I lived in, so I drove an hour to a meet- ing in Indianapolis. It was the only meeting of gays in AA in the state back then. I stopped drinking in No- vember 1980 but didn't go to AA un- til late January 1981. I remember that night feeling for the first time in my life that I fit in somewhere. I reluctantly got a sponsor, Larry, and off and on for the next 28 years until his death, he played an impor- tant part in my life. He spent lots of time teaching me about AA and the structure of the program. He took me to AA meetings until I was less afraid and could go by myself. He showed me how he worked the Steps in his daily life, and I am sure he saved my life. He helped me to become honest and to check my motives, to learn that it did no good to do a good I feared that people in AA would know I was gay and make me leave. 12 February 2011