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Grapevine : February 2011
56 February 2011 impaired. With that said, however, we are inclusive to all regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, language or age. e gay community has had unique challenges as far as prejudice, homophobia, a higher suicide rate, the AIDS epi- demic and ostracism from many religious orders in mainstream America---and the world, for that matter. e gay AA meeting is a place where one feels accepted, understood and safe enough to share feelings and experiences related to our alcoholism and the previously men- tioned life challenges. It is of the utmost importance to be able to be honest with ourselves, to be able to share in a general way about how these chal- lenges have a ected our lives, and to hear others validate our experiences with similar stories and the solutions they have found in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Jim S. from Hauppage, N.Y., wrote in the April 1999 Grapevine, "Imagine going to your home group and being avoided by peo- ple with 10 or more years of sobriety because they heard that you volunteer your time with people with AIDS. Just for a moment think about what it might have been like for a gay man just getting sober to hear someone with 'good sobriety' put down gays, blacks or women." I have been in mainstream meet- ings in Sacramento where this has happened. I have had more than one personal experience that made me feel not welcome at a particular meeting in AA. When I was in my first year of sobriety, I chaired a meet- ing at a mainstream hall. I shared how I felt di erent growing up, which is not unique to the gay alco- holic. I shared how I felt I didn't fit in with the other kids and credited some of that to being gay. I heard a loud "PBBBT!" from the back of the room and two guys got up and walked out. What is important is that I have stayed in the rooms regardless of such reactions and that that sort of behavior would most likely not happen in a gay meeting. By stay- ing, I may have helped other alcoholics who were struggling. ey would now know that they too could stay sober and be gay, and that there are special purpose meetings to ease some of the fear of confronting our own truths. Many of our members also attend other AA meetings. In our meetings we do not have a higher or lower rate of relapse, as far as we can tell, but we do have a high rate of maintaining members. We I shared how I felt di erent growing up, how I felt I didn't fit in with the other kids and credited some of that to being gay. I heard a loud "PBBBT!" from the back of the room and two guys got up and walked out. What is important is that I have stayed.