Welcome to Grateful Heart Monday! I begin this week with gratitude for the unconditional love and acceptance I received at a holiday party just recently, from a number of people in AA who were in attendance there, that reminded me it doesn’t matter whether I’m gay or straight, I’m fully loved regardless.
On some level, I find it interesting that even in 2018, I’m far from feeling 100% comfortable with my sexuality. While I may fully accept it now as the way I was born, that doesn’t necessarily translate to being able to walk around every day and just be me, given the amount of racism that’s still present in our society. That being said, many years ago, when I first came to Toledo, Ohio, I joined an AA group where my sexuality wasn’t something I ever discussed. The reason for that is I was nervous about being in a state where conservatism was prevalent more than not, where religion and biblical passages were still being grossly misinterpreted by many, and where frankly, it just didn’t feel as safe being openly gay. Nevertheless, I became active in this group and made it my home, making a number of friends along the way. It was a daily meeting that met in the early morning hours and one that I actually looked forward to getting up and going to on pretty much every day of the week, even though I’ve never been much of a morning person.
After about a year of being active with them, and feeling like I was part of their family, the group read a story in the back of the Alcoholics Anonymous book one day that was titled “Tightrope”, where a person is closeted and severely drinking to deal with their sexuality. The story hit so close to home that I became quite emotional, enough so that I gained the courage to share why. That day I openly told everyone there I was gay and how much my life story was in those very words. Sadly, after that, I felt more of an icy presence from a number of those whom I thought of as part of my AA family. It wasn’t long after that I left that group and found another where I was more able to be myself. Four years later, last weekend in fact, I found myself at a holiday party where the majority of those in attendance were from that group. Ironically, where I thought I might feel out of place and awkward being there (and with my partner no less), I was embraced, loved, and welcomed very warmly. Several times in fact, I was also asked to come back to my original AA group, that what transpired back then was only the negative actions of a select few and wasn’t felt by the majority. Hearing that was most certainly a blessing, that’s for sure.
I must say, my presence here in Toledo has been an arduous one almost since the beginning. I have been the recipient of plenty of rejection from those who’ve felt homosexuality is a sin to those who simply haven’t liked my East coast personality and spiritual beliefs. Honestly, I haven’t received much unconditional love here and have struggled immensely because of it. Yet, on a night where holiday festivities where the main theme, God saw fit to move the hearts of several there in attendance, to express their sincere apologies for the negative actions of a few others who didn’t represent their AA group as a whole. Receiving those sentiments, strong hugs, and loving words from them, I left the party that night with a mountain of gratitude.
For something that left sadness within me for such a long time, I felt a true lifting of it that night, knowing the doors to an old AA group I once was a part of are waiting for me to enter them again whenever I wish, where unconditional love and acceptance of me and my sexuality, is now present in abundance just beyond…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson