I’m a fan of round-ups, it’s a good place to hear experience, strength and hope from all over the world – usually.
About 15 years ago I went up to the Upper Peninsula (the UP) of Michigan for a round-up with a bunch of folks from my Eau Claire AA meetings. I was looking forward to it, I think a few people that I’d heard before were to be speaking. The first night an American Indian woman was the speaker, I’d never heard her story before. Around the 40 minute mark of her talk I’d heard all about the oppression of the American Indian and how that affected her growing up into adulthood – but I don’t think she’d even taken a drink at that point. I walked out – I was followed by several other people who were as frustrated as I was.
I’m sorry but I came to hear experience, strength and hope about alcoholism and how to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. That’s why I’m here. Did I come to the wrong meeting?
A few years back I went to a “gay” round-up in Miami, I had scoffed at it for years without ever going until I thought hard about “contempt prior to investigation” so that year I went. The majority of the speakers at the round-up, and especially the Saturday night speaker, talked about being gay, coming out and their relationships more by far than they talked about alcoholism, recovery from alcoholism or struggling to stay sober. Except when the Saturday night speaker mentioned her sobriety date I don’t think she talked about the program at all. I remained hopeful and tried to be respectful to this woman with over 40 years in the program, but I left that night convinced I was right about “gay round-ups” all along. Perhaps the organizers tell the speakers of this round-up to really stress life as a gay.
I’m not here to recover from being gay, I’m not here to talk about that or learn how difficult it was for you to come out of the closet to your parents, your friends, your co-workers. I’m here because I have a desire to stop drinking and live life being of maximum service to God (or what have you) and my fellows.
I was asked to share my experience strength and hope at the end of 2011 in Minneapolis. I never practice sharing my experience or know what’s going to come out of my mouth when I do share, I just open my mouth and try to keep it honest (I remember once at the Eau Claire Pacific Group at the podium where I lied and immediately stopped myself and called myself out on it, I was pretty new). During my talk I mentioned that when one of my best friends moved out to the East Coast she said “You have to come with, Eau Claire is no place for a gay boy to be” and later on I talked briefly about getting engaged and dumped in the last year and wanting to drink over that. I didn’t dwell on being gay, I didn’t focus my talk on coming out of the closet or about how wonderful it is having gay sex.
I shared in a general way, what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now as it relates to alcoholism, recovery from alcoholism and the joys and tribulations that I’ve experienced in sobriety. I think that’s what we’re supposed to talk about.
When I met with my sponsor last week I told him that one of the members, a friend, of the group I spoke at expressed gratitude that I spoke in a general way about being gay. She said that typically when gay people come to speak they spend most of there time talking about the coming out process and how difficult it is being gay. She appreciated that someone could come and mention it without making it the focus of their talk. I thought that was interesting. My sponsor said that he thinks as society comes to accept the gay lifestyle more and more the coming out process will be less of traumatic experience to our young people and he thinks its already started to change to reflect that in meetings. I hope so.