HEALTH / RECOVERY

Maintaining Harmony in the Gay Rooms of Recovery
Christian Parker
8/16/2013

“But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.”

—Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 2

What happens after rehab? Most of the time a person is sent into the rooms of 12-step land—the world’s largest outpatient program. Allow me to preface what I’m about to express with this—I am not criticizing or bashing the fellowship of CMA or even AA as a whole. Often times a newbie is thrown into an environment that is new to him.  There are new faces, new cliques—a new everything in early sobriety. Add gay, and on top of that a physically and mentally damaging history with crystal meth to the equation, and suddenly things just got ‘real.’

The only stated requirement of membership is a desire to stop drinking or using. One doesn’t have to like everyone. Courtesy, camaraderie, joyousness, democracy, politeness and graciousness are nice and even principled—but not requirements. What happens when exclusion and meanness go too far?

Sometimes, people in recovery are the victims of a subtle form of internal bullying and are made so uncomfortable in the rooms that they have one of two choices—to accept it and work through it, sometimes painfully so, or to simply leave. Alcoholics and drug addicts in recovery are a sensitive bunch. No chemicals in one’s system translates to a higher and authentic feeling of real emotion, fancied or real.

This is where people with long-term sobriety come in handy. They can set the right tone—to take the higher road and to lead by example. They as members have the right to uphold the classic and cherished declaration of unity: “I am responsible … when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

When they see a newbie or anyone for that matter being gossiped about or being left out, they have mustered up the courage to do the right thing and speak up or invited them along so the person feels a part of instead of like an outsider. These old-timers are not always the most popular, but then again, doing the right thing is not always going to make one popular. They came in to get sober. This effort supports two things—the first tradition and the fourth traditions—but also it supports accountability of one’s behavior.

In closing, let’s be frank. Cliques are everywhere. Cliques happen in grade school, middle school, college, the work space and elsewhere. The 12-step fellowships—since their inception—have greatly improved the fate of the alcoholic or drug addict. People seeking help are lucky enough to have found the rooms of recovery and healing. The line that rang through and through my little brain as I wrote this was, “What we can’t do alone, we do together.”

Christian C. Parker has been an active member of the LGBTQ recovery community for over 12 years. He is a co-founder of Queer & Sober. He lives in New York City.


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  1. Mark posted on 08/19/2013 06:07 PM  
    Periodically the Grapevine publishes a “group inventory” (I’m sure there must be versions of it that could be easily found online).
    The crux of it is, do the meeting as a whole and the individual members ensure their group is an inviting, welcoming place, where the newcomer –regardless of their experience with treatment facilities) can be comfortable? Not every meeting needs to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ –in the large metropolitan area I live, there are approximately 3,000 meetings weekly (and that’s before including CA, CMA, NA and other 12 step groups). As an oldtimer once said, there’s a reason we don’t have one enormous meeting each night at the Coliseum – ideally, a newcomer will look around and see people with whom they can identify. Even within the LGBT community, we have many communities. Some cross-pollinate better than others.
    I was fortunate to find a group early on where it was nigh impossible for a newcomer to slide into the room unnoticed –or slide out. The mother hens would note that A has a car and lives near B who needs a ride to meetings; C is willing to be a sponsor, and D is in need of one.
    Being comprised wholly of human beings, the best of groups can lapse into a slow decline from the pattern they set up for themselves, formally or organically. Every well oiled-machine needs a little recalibration now and then.
  2. Val S. posted on 10/09/2013 08:34 AM  
    Considering that most people in the gay fellowships of CMA and AA in New York City avoid Christian Cerna Parker like the plague, it is truly laughable that he has sought attention and publicity by attempting to speak on behalf of these communities. Christian Cerna Parker was fired from his job at The Pride Institute because of his online bullying and taunting of an older gay gentleman in recovery and other despicable behavior that was visible for all the world to see. Christian Cerna Parker is unemployed and Queer & Sober is considered a joke. Christian promoted, and collected money for, a sober party at Limelight, and then did a bait and switch at the last minute and substituted a 90-minute party in the gynm of the LGBT Center. Did Frontiers LA check with ANYONE in New York City before publishing this self-promotional crap from such a pathetic fame whore?
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