First Official Gay Meeting in San Francisco
By Conrad G., who was there
Editor’s note: This story first ran in The Point in 2007. It is being re-published as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Central Office and Intergroup this year, to highlight key moments in the history of our Fellowship.
Around 1968 a group of around ten gay men met in Gordon T.’s apartment. Gordon’s apartment was on Central Avenue in the Haight Ashbury. Our meeting was called to discuss starting the first official gay A.A. meeting in S.F. We agreed to start the meeting. We rented space at 261 Fell Street in the building in the rose garden. Our object in starting the meeting was to encourage members of the gay community who were reluctant to come into the mainstream of A.A. to come to our meeting, then we could encourage them to enter mainstream A.A. as they became more comfortable living sober.
Our local Central Office was not comfortable about gay meetings. We therefore did not list this meeting in their directory. We listed the meeting with the Society for Individual Rights and were listed in their monthly newsletter.
The 35 and under group of Alcoholics Anonymous which met on Thursday nights in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in North Beach was S.F.’s unofficial gay group. The meeting was for anyone who wanted to attend. We had a lot of very good friends who came regularly also what was then a large gay attendance, “maybe 20.”
As a community little did we ever dream our community would be as large as it is today, with gay A.A. meetings throughout the Bay Area and throughout the country.
There are also many conferences yearly throughout the country, including Hawaii. The first conference was the Living Sober conference here in S.F. held yearly around the Gay Pride parade time so travelers can come to both.
Since we were unable to use our new space at 261 Fell for our very first meeting, two of our members had a hippie pad in the Haight Ashbury and invited us to use their space. They had decorated their pad with several metal wall sculptures all brightly painted in pastel colors. One was a piece of round iron sculpture with all kinds of flowers appearing to grow out of the carpet. After reading the usual opening literature to which we added, and it was always read at all of our meetings, the last paragraph of page 68, all of 69 ending with the first paragraph on page 70 from Alcoholics Anonymous Third Edition. Then the black light was turned on and all others off. We were surrounded by all this beautiful psychedelic art turned on with black light. No drugs were taken. No marijuana smoked. Coffee, jasmine tea and cake were served. A beautiful first official gay meeting of S.F.