The month of July, this year, has been a month of reflection and thought. It is like I have been working through a personal inventory of myself, and what I have learned about myself. My good points, and my bad points.
I have a particular Gay experience to draw upon. I have said, in the past that, things were not so easy, in the very beginning.
Living with AIDS, was not easy. Watching other people CRACK UP in front of me and my friends was disturbing. Loosing everyone, I thought would be in my corner, was a terrible by product of getting sick.
Ignorance was rife …
I learned early on after that, that it was not so important what people SAID, what was more important what people DID.
Living on the edge of society, well under the poverty level, procuring services that decided life or death, was paramount. I learned what were Cast Iron Panties, and how to put on those Cast Iron Panties very early on.
Several times I actually had to use them. Let me tell you that, if you said you’d do something I needed, on any level, and you failed to do that thing …
Hell hath no fury like an AIDS sick man.
A very TRUE STORY…
Back in the late nineties, after I got sick, for years, I had tried to get disability Insurance from the Government and I failed several times.
At the last, I stopped taking my medication for a month, I did not shower, or change my clothes, once. About a month in, I had a disability appointment with someone who could sign off on my application and grant me much needed financial support.
He, in the past, denied me that financial support.
So unwashed, sick and dirty, I walked into his office and sat down in front of him. He started talking to me. I took a deep breath and I coughed on him.
He stopped talking right then and there, and signed that application with not a further word of argument.
True Story …
You learned the character of the people around you, by their words, and indeed their actions. This piece of advice still applies today.
I know how alcoholics treated me when I came into the program twenty five years ago. Had that experience been more positive and supportive, this year I would have reached twenty five years sober.
Alas, that was not my experience.
Todd knew more about humility, honesty, and love, than any man or woman I know, to this very day.
Had he not stepped in and took me into his orbit, and taught me all the lessons he had, I would have surely died.
I spoke about this tonight, in my Step Group Study. In this meeting are a handful of LONG SOBER men whom I like and trust.
When I returned to the rooms in 2001, it was people who first hugged me and welcomed me into the SOBE room. They really cared about me, and that meant the world to me, and kept me IN the Room.
When I moved to Montreal, I looked for those same attributes in the people I met when I first arrived. In the first little while good people were Hit and Miss.
When I found the group I would HOME in for twelve years, the way I got sober and stayed sober, was by watching everyone else around me. I listened to them talk, lots of talk. I watched them make decisions, good and bad.
Most importantly, I paid attention to my friends who drank again, and again, and again.
I stuck and stayed while masses of people were drinking again.
I knew what NOT to do. I knew who to avoid, and who to stay away from.
Alcoholics are fallible people, we know this. Bill said as much in many of his talks before General Conference Meetings, for years.
None of us are perfect, none of us are better than another. Least of all ME.
Many years ago, I entertained a long sober man and asked him to sponsor me. An NDG man. For all intents and purposes, I stay away from NDG Men.
Why you ask ? I’m Gay.
Nothing turns my stomach quicker than a heterosexual man who needs to talk to hear himself talk, the pussy loving, hockey fan, who just has that air of heterosexuality about him. Men who overcompensate for being straight. Pissing contests are usual. And the size of their penises.
For a few years, I hung out with these men, because they were sober longer than I was, then. I did not go to their meetings, BUT I did attend several Twelve Step Retreats in Vermont with these men.
Imagine being the only queer banana in a car, driving to Vermont with overcompensating heterosexual men.
God give me strength.
At the very first group meeting, at the very first retreat I was at, in Vermont, I came out to the group of men. Because I was the only queer member in that group, for several retreats.
I quote …”Oh we accept you and we love you and we want to be your friend.”
That was all well and good. All that changed when we hit our first communal meal together.
I went through the buffet, got my food, and found a seat at an open table. I sat down, and I waited. And I watched.
I watched every single man, who said they accepted me among them, grab their own food, walk by my table, and sit somewhere else, not one of these men chose to break bread with me.
This happened at every retreat I was at, over and over.
Right then and there, the nails in their coffins were hammered.
Some time would pass, and my NDG sponsor having witnessed the worst painful experience I had ever experienced in Sobriety, spoke to me and he humiliated me in front of our group.
I swore I would never share space with any of those men ever again.
After the shooting at the Pulse Club in Orlando, I was devastated. Because as a kid in my twenties, I drank in that building too. I knew the story of the kid who did the shooting. I knew that he scoped out both Pulse and the Parliament House, where I had my Coming Out Experience.
I wanted to drink so bad. But I knew I could not.
I turned to meetings to save me. Most importantly, a Big Book Reading Meeting. I knew that if I read the BIG Book through, I would NOT DRINK.
There were 45 men and women in that meeting. All the Queer men in the program on the English side, ALL OF THEM, sat in this meeting.
I was a wreck for eighteen months. Emotionally and mentally.
Not One Man or Woman, GAY or STRAIGHT wanted to know me. Not one of those men or women said one single word to me, personally, at any time, before or after any of those meetings over eighteen months.
Not One Alcoholic said those words to me…
“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”
NOT ONE !!!
I’ve NEVER heard those words come out of ANY sober mouth, in all the years I have been sober, EXCEPT from Lorna Kelly who came from New York to speak at a Round Up. She spoke those words in front of everybody.
I think I was the only who who heard her. To This Day.
And in the end one of those queers, who read the same book I did, got to the last chapter of the Big Book, and we read HOW to stay SOBER and NEVER drink again, HE DRANK AGAIN.
Because he IS constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself.
Now I am not, in any way, stating that I am better than anyone else, but I do know the work I have done in as many years to stay sober. I know every man and woman who participated in my sobriety TO DATE.
Todd taught me about My Place in the World and in the Universe. I know my place in the world. I know, that as long as I serve others, to the best of my ability, I can maintain some semblance of humility.
I commented tonight, at the meeting that last night, I had a visceral reaction to some folks who came into the meeting last night.
I just don’t have any desire to be friendly with some of my heterosexual counterparts, because of the way they treated me over the years. They walk in the meeting and announce their presence, and I’m just like:
SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN.
I was SO uncomfortable sitting in my chair, that at one point, before the meeting, that I actually got up, and walked outside, to sit with my friends who were hanging out, outside the church on one of the benches.
I had no desire to sit there and listen to people I have no desire to want anything that they have. I stayed sober, by watching and listening to everybody else. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing.
I am a Gay man who survived AIDS.
So I am a bit more judgmental of people, in a way that other queer men are not. Not that there are NO QUEER men in the rooms who want to be my friend, so when we sit in the same room, they have nothing to say to me and I don’t have anything to say to them either.
I know who my friends are, and who I take solace from, and those men and women who contribute to my sobriety.
It just struck me odd last night, that I had that kind of reaction sitting in a room, I regularly sit in on a weekly basis. And I brought that up with my old timer friends tonight at the step meeting.
People are not apt to speak to me about anything I say in meetings, and old timers rather keep to themselves, and they don’t usually offer counsel, or criticism, or tell me to just shut the fuck up and listen.
I find that odd. That people won’t call you out, or say anything when we share in meetings. It’s like I am having this particular sober experience, and nobody is playing pin ball with me, there are no bumpers on the side, banging me back into play.
It’s like I am running on my own.
If I don’t ask someone directly for advice, nobody offers advice.
That strikes me as odd too.
Just a few observations about myself.