by John A.

In early 1976, several members of the gay A.A. community began a conversation geared toward starting a conference for the sober LGBTs here in San Francisco. The fruit of those conversations bore the first LGBT conference later that year, Western Roundup / Living Sober. It was a small event held on the University of California San Francisco campus but it proved to be the seed of not only a much, much larger event here but of other LGBT conferences throughout the country and throughout the world. In its heyday, Western Roundup / Living Sober drew more than 5,000 people in recovery from all over the world.

In 2002, I attended my first Living Sober roundup when it was located at the Bill Graham Center. I was not prepared for what I found when I walked in. More than 3,000 people filled the space and I was overwhelmed to find that many LGBTQ people in recovery in one place.

Conventions are an integral part of my sobriety

In 2006, I moved to San Francisco and Living Sober became a regular “must” for me. It holds a special place in my heart. The hard work that the sober community invests in the roundup gives it a true feeling of camaraderie and builds close, lasting connections that continue long after the last meeting.

The underlying theme that I re-discover each year in every person who attends Living Sober is that strong, dedicated and passionate work to “carry the message.” Since my early years in A.A., conferences, roundups and conventions have played an integral part of my sobriety. Living Sober is one of my cornerstones and will continue to be long into the future. I get so excited about the roundup because everyone involved from the early, early newcomers to those of us who have been around since “Moses was a baby” is dedicated to carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous and how our simple program has changed all our lives.

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Speakers always spark that hope

Our 2019 theme is “A New Freedom and a New Happiness,” and Living Sober will once again rise to meet that theme. We are reviewing speakers now, and our job choosing amongst the group of great sober voices we have is very tough. As with any A.A. conference, the workshops are targeted to carry the message and, of course, the general fellowship is always an incredible part of the conference. The results will be a testament to the hard work the planning committee put into staging another successful event.

Western Roundup / Living Sober ranks at the very top of the list of conferences that inspire. Each year every speaker speaks to the heart. We all have times we struggle in sobriety and so many of the speakers relate their struggles and the solutions they’ve found since they sobered up. They remind us that after we sober up, we still have to live life on life’s terms, not ours. Their messages carry the hope and solutions we need to walk through the difficult times. Just because we are sober, we don’t get a pass on tough times. Our speakers always spark that hope that helps us through the difficult times and remind us we don’t have to face any of our adversities alone.

We are incredibly excited about the progressive changes and new energy the folks who are working on this year’s conference bring to an event we can all share in. For a perspective on the conference from a newcomer to A.A. and to Living Sober, check out Maggie R.’s article. And we want to remind everyone in our fellowship: While the conference is billed as an LGBT event, please know you are welcome no matter what your orientation is. We hope to see you there!

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