THE QUEER PROBLEM ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS CAN’T BOTTLE UP
Since the cup that cheers is also sipped by queers, the lavender lushes are giving AA a king-sized headache!
By Curtis Weylin
A waspish young man, natty in an Italian silk suit, smiled disarmingly at the group gathered recently for the regular meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in a church basement on Manhattan’s East Side. Then, running the emotional gamut from pettishness to pixilation, he poured out the short story of his days of wine and roses.
"My name is Bruce D______ and I am an alcoholic," he began self-confident if a bit sibilant. "I had my first drink at the age of 17 and, looking back on it, I guess I was an alcoholic from the very beginning…"
As he droned on, vastly enjoying his coy and candid confessions and the occasional ripple of laughter they prompted, a nervous newcomer turned to the man who had brought him to his first meeting and whispered:
"This guy acts like a pansy. What gives?"
His friend’s reply was lost in the applause which greeted an especially clever line from the speaker, But the neophyte had unwittingly touched upon a very sensitive point which is causing more and more of New York City’s estimated 50,000 practicing AA’s to complain bitterly about the changes in their unique brotherhood of necessity.
"It is high time," said one veteran AA member, "That we give AA back to the drunks."
Though AA has not seen fit as yet to make any official comment on the matter, it is common knowledge throughout the organization that there is an alarming influx of homosexuals which some feel will eventually change the brotherhood into a sisterhood, the fraternity into a sorority.
On Manhattan’s East Side, where comedian Henny Youngman has said World War III will be won by "fags with rolled umbrellas," homosexuals have admittedly "taken over" one large Park Avenue group, even to dominating the actual election of officers and at several others are in danger of becoming predominately "gay" groups.
A Wall Street broker, active in AA for nearly twenty years, claims it is only within the past decade that the change has become really noticeable. "There have always been a few effeminate men around and a few masculine women, but I can’t recall that they were this obvious. Now when a guy introduces himself at the coffee session after a meeting I think twice before becoming involved in a conversation.
AA, founded 28 years ago in Akron, O., by two alcoholics who started out simply to help each other stop drinking, now claims a membership of 300,000 men and women in 87 countries who are "arrested" alcoholics. It is undoubtedly the most widely successful method of rehabilitating drunks which had yet been devised.
However, its apparent appeal to the homosexuals of our society-of which there are undoubtedly many more than there are alcoholics-lies in the basic concepts of the organization.
"We have no dues or fees," AA boasts quietly, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."
"Live and let live," reads one AA slogan. There but for the grace of God go I," suggests another.
Thus the homosexual was welcomed at first as simply another unfortunate victim of alcoholism by an organization which has been notoriously blind to the fact that in a great many cases of alcoholism drinking is but a minor manifestation of a serious emotional or psychiatric problem.
One admitted homosexual interviewed by CONFIDENTIAL, gave the following account of his entry into AA and his feeling about it:
"My drinking became uncontrolled about two years ago. When you have the other problem, you know, you haven’t the opportunities for meeting someone nice that you would if you were straight. Where can a fellow go to meet another fellow and get acquainted? They don’t have any over-28 clubs for us. You go to gay bars.
"The trouble with frequenting gay bars is the danger of being blackmailed or beaten up by someone you pick up and take home with you. This happened to me twice and the second time I was involved with the police and subsequently lost my job. I heard about AA through a gay friend about this time and consented to attend a meeting with him."
Here he toyed with his coffee cup, a smile playing about his lips when he recalled the incident.
"What a marvelous revelation that first meeting was to me! Here were all these people-mostly men-and all so friendly and eager to help me. Nobody seemed to feel that I was ‘different’ and before the evening was over a nice older man, who later turned out to be gay too, offered to be my sponsor and help me get started in the program.
"I soon learned that there was another group nearer to where I lived which had an even larger percentage of gay people, so I began alternating between the two groups, four meetings a week, and it was heaven. Absolute heaven."
This young man, who claims not to have had a drink since coming into AA claims he has made many friends in the fellowship and that regular meetings and outside association with them occupies most of his time. The gay group, he maintains, is rather a ‘club within a club’ and the homosexuals keep mainly to themselves.
The only segment of the AA rank and file which seemingly sees no threat in the current invasion of inverts-in fact even welcomes it-are the middle-aged and elderly women of the upper economic groups.
"To this type of woman," a psychiatrist said, "an attractive young homosexual is a social asset, almost a status symbol. He is usually better-than-average in looks, manners and education and is often in some artistic pursuit-a hairdresser, an antique dealer, an interior decorator or hat designer.
"The alcoholic divorcee or widow in this situation sees this attentive, amusing and understanding young man as the combination of the ideal son, satisfying her natural female instinct to mother someone, and also the ideal suitor she may never have had in her carefree youth."
The young men involved, of course, find these women easy prey for an occasional financial lift, an entre into social circles where they might otherwise be shunned and often a new client for whatever business they might be operating. Then too, the embarrassment of having a woman expect them to perform as a bona fide man in the boudoir seldom occurs.
The newcomer to AA, still physically and emotionally drained from his most recent bout with the bottle, is easy prey for the experienced deviate. Eager for a helping hand, kindness and understanding, he is often deeply involved before he realizes what has happened to him in the good name of sobriety.
AA’s use an expression "twelfth-stepping" to describe the work sponsors carry out with their pigeons. In most cases, of course, this is selfless and admirable work on the part of the recovered AA member, but it can become something which is known as "thirteenth-stepping."
Thirteenth-stepping, or becoming emotionally involved with the pigeon, is becoming more and more a problem in AA these days and is a prime topic of conversation wherever AA meetings are held.
One disgruntled old-timer in AA, who stopped attending meetings at a mid-town chapter which had been "invaded by the boys in tight pants," said he now attends meetings thirty blocks farther uptown where the problem is less acute.
"At Lennox Hill," he said belligerently, "we let those characters know where they stand. They usually get the message they aren’t welcome and they don’t come back. AA is to help drunks, not to serve as a coffee pot for wierdies of all sorts."
And with that he introduced us to his new pigeon – a cherubic little blonde man with a slight lisp and a suit that appeared to be about just one size too small.
Source: Confidential©, June 1963
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