Gay Men in Recovery was established in February 2019, literally days before the lockdown restrictions for COVID-19 came introduced.
Like the founders of AA, back in the 1930’s, our meeting was formed by a small group of gay men (just three people at the start) who had experienced AA over many years. They regularly attended the fantastic LGBTQI meetings in Manchester (the Friday meeting was established around 30 years ago!) and other meetings in the north west, London and abroad.
Despite the meetings referred to above, there was a deep-down nagging feeling within us that the majority of gay men who were alcoholics, were not accessing AA. Like lots of people in AA, we also heard stories of how the ‘God’ word put people off from even attending an initial meeting to learn more about this fellowship. Gay men in particularly have had a rough time of it in relation to a religious ‘God’, and no-doubt assumed that this was similar in AA. However, as described on our main page, AA is based on spiritual principles, and individuals come to believe in their own concept of a power greater than themsleves.
We also heard how some support workers or LGBTQI organisations took a pretty dim view of AA, overlooking how it saves millions of lives, and continues to do so every minute of the day. Gay men have one of the highest incidences of alcoholism in the UK, and highest rates of suicide. Yet where are they all ? Why aren’t more seeking recovery? Why isn’t AA attracting more and more gay men each week? These were some of the deep-seated concerns amongst us.
Initially we had discussions with other people in AA and then with the national AA organisation, to share our ideas and the need for this meeting. We put forward some of the historical developments of AA, and how even Bill W is reportedly to have agreed to separate meetings for specific groups of people, so that they too can get a daily reprieve from alcohol.
Where are we now?
Since February 2019, we have become an established meeting based on the principles and traditions of AA. We regularly have 15-18 people coming each week. More importantly, we attract newcomers who clearly state that they would not have come to AA if it had not been for this meeting. And the newcomers become regulars!
We have monthly Conscience Meetings and make regular financial contributions to the local inter-group as a way of supporting AA as a whole.
Everyone coming to our meeting was sceptical at first, or let’s be honest, more like frightened, desperate and scared – just like those of us who experience a day of sobriety by working the programme of AA. However, AA does work for the gay men coming to this meeting, and for others attending the LGBTQI meetings in Manchester. For it to work, you have to come along to your first and future meetings. But ‘it works if you work it, so work it because you’re worth it!’. You can’t get sober on your own, but together, you can because we can and do.