Archives for posts with tag: Twelve-Step Program

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Published today in The Fix and responded to in The Advocate….

On October 1st I will be 16 years sober.

That means that I have not had a drink or a drug for 16 years.

I got sober and I didn’t relapse.

Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can’t stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.

The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.

I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.

Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.

While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”

Forgive me if I’m wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.

Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot ‘n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n’ Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”

The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn’t work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.

The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn’t made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?

I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It’s like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.

For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.

I couldn’t walk away fast enough.

And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.

“It’s time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer.”

She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.

Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It’s my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can’t say no.

When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.

Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.

After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I’ve got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I’m a tenacious old queen; I didn’t want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.

Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I’ll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don’t.

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I just put my AA ‘Big Book’ in the trash.

Does this mean I will die? Well yes, eventually.

Does this mean I will drink again? Maybe, but not immediately.

Does this mean that I’ll stop believing in god? Definitely not.

“Like any cult, religion or philosophy, AA leans heavily on the good will and participation of its members. I like the saying “if you like everybody you meet in AA, you aren’t going to enough meetings“. People should not be accountable for ideas, only for their actions. I have never had high expectations of AA, and so they are usually exceeded by the results. “Faith without works is dead”. The book is overrated, Duncan, everybody knows that. But the Love in AA is palpable.”

Dan my friend wrote the above. Men like him initially convinced me that AA was good. I was attracted to their nuanced reasoning, their warmth, their ‘spirituality’. I was not wrong, people like Dan were the reason I kept going back.

Explaining AA to the uninitiated is like teaching a baboon how to knit.

Writing this, even now, I can convince myself to haul the AA Big Book out of the trash…that things weren’t that bad, that I should look at ‘my part’, that if only I had worked the 12 steps just a little bit harder…

The reason I moved to LA? The reason I uprooted my home, my life…myself? Alcoholics Anonymous.

The comfy Palisade stag meetings, the jolly Rodeo social, the stoic recovery center.

I loved UTA owner Jeremy Zimmer’s Saturday morning industry meeting where the producers, writers, actors and directors came to flay themselves before the UTA grandee.

I was rapt by the harrowing story of child sex abuse and violence therapist Sean McFarlane dramatically told when ever he was asked to testify.

I watched ‘Big’ Robert gather his flock of new comers/sponsees at the 7am Bank meeting and take them diligently through the twelve steps.

It took five years to see through each of these scam merchants.

Jeremy Zimmer uses his meeting to ensnare and compromise celebrities in trouble. Fellow alcoholic industry folk, realizing that Jeremy is a sick man do not risk leaving the meeting, nor do directors and actors who want his patronage. Jeremy Zimmer is a sadist. Laughing and joking as men cry pitifully about their ‘rock bottom’.

The only men he has compassion for are men that mean nothing to him professionally.

Sean McFarlane, perhaps the worst scam artist in the AA SAA organization, effectively getting rich men to pay to sponsor them.

Sponsorship is a service supposedly supplied ‘for fun and for free’ from elder AAers to the new comer, helping them understand the 12 steps, helping them understand the Big Book of AA…a sort of bible written by Bill Wilson the founder of AA.

Sean thinks nothing of taking huge amounts of money from naive new comers for his sponsorship services.

Sean (pronounced seen) McFarlane, provides counseling as a sex therapist but I have no proof that he has any formal training nor counseling himself, nor support, even a sponsor? If anyone has proof that this monster has any training…please provide it.

Sean oversees the fate of cheating celebrities who routinely fall from grace and into his Wednesday morning SAA meeting…needing their family back, their reputation saved, their need to disguise their pedophile peccadillos…put humpty dumpty together again.

Sean thinks he is a very big deal, a super hero, leaping over imagined cars to save his clients from tranny hookers bent on destroying his clients.

As for Big Robert, the multimillionaire ex basketball player…well it turns out that this self-proclaimed AA guru is in fact a compulsive liar who, whilst banging his sponsees heads with the big book bible…is in fact gorging on un-prescribed prescription meds. He routinely tells his group of sycophantic male followers that AA does not ‘shoot its wounded’…which is patently untrue.

I thought, when I moved to LA that finally…I had come home.

It is evident from the 2006/7 blogs that I loved it and it loved me. A family of men and women who could always forgive, would always forgive.

Well, that was the first of my mistakes. I was wrong about them. Perhaps when I moved here AA was different, I was different?

AA is a cult. Like scientology it trades on the secret lives of its members. Like scientology it requires devotion. Blind devotion. Like scientology there is a vile abuse of power. Those who want to wrestle the leadership, become gurus, lie and steal…all in the name of recovery.

Most so-called addicts and alcoholics are mental patients with no mental hospital to go to.

Look at the beautiful man at the top of this post. His name was Evan Landry. He was a friend of mine. An AA friend. Wow, I was bowled over with Evan, his aggressive, sexy ways…his vulnerability. He served in Iraq, he was an MMA fighter, I saw him fight.

He had a sexy girlfriend he shared with Mike Tyson but wasn’t above going to…how shall we say…the dark side.

Well, last night Evan Landry killed himself. Another AA tragedy. Today his friends think it is ‘sad but not unexpected’. They have buried so many friends, their indifference is as unexpected as Evan’s OD.

People like Sean McFarlane will remember him, use his death as evidence that we must never, ever leave AA.

His PTSD unaddressed, all he needed (according to his AA friends) was the 12 steps.

Like prescribing leaches for terminal cancer.

In the USA there are a hundred treatment centers where addiction can be fought with the ubiquitous 12 steps…if you have the money. In my experience getting help with any other mental condition is almost impossible.

Evan Landry put his faith in AA like so many of us did…but our problems were complicated by AA and sadly may have killed dear Evan and many men and women like him.

I don’t go to AA funerals because they are a sick joke. I might, however, go to this one. Just to laugh at the hypocrites that killed Evan with their medieval prescription for a better life.

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