The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous : From the Beginning book cover
1st Edition

The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous
From the Beginning

ISBN 9780789030399
Published October 12, 2007 by Routledge
300 Pages

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Book Description

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.

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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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.


"This volume fills in a previously missing chapter in the history of addiction recovery in America. Well-research and well-written."

William M. White, M.A., Senior Research Coordinator, Chestnut Health Systems, Bloomington, IL

"This groundbreaking book about an important but little-known part of the history of Alcohilics Anonymous belongs on the shelves of every alcoholic and addict, straight or gay. . . . An invaluable resource. . . . Magnificent."

Rev. Sally Brown, M.S., MDiv, United Church of Christ, Board Certified Clinical Chaplain, Ret., Palo Alto, CA

"This fascinating book is an important first step in chronicling and understanding the experiences of gays and lesbians in AA."

Thomasina Borkmman, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Emerita at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

"The author lets a number of people speak in their own voices, from their own powerful and moving experiences. . . . It is useful, 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