Growing up in the Midwest, sex and shame went hand-in-hand for me. Growing up gay meant I was wrong every time I got personal with someone. It was better to be an alcoholic than to be gay, and I wasn’t an alcoholic.

Coming to Al‑Anon taught me first how to love myself, then how to love the people around me. By learning to love those around me, I learned to accept their imperfections and, as a result, to accept what I viewed as my imperfections. Only then was I able to see that these weren’t all imperfections—instead, they are attributes that make me who I am.

Yes, there are many gay men and women in Al-Anon, but I am the only one with all my experiences, all my hopes, and all my strengths. I can share all three, and I still retain them after sharing.

Because of Al-Anon, I have learned to let go of shame and guilt, and I’m learning to let go of my insecurities. I am who I am, a creation of my Higher Power, no more or less perfect than anyone else. I am an Al‑Anon member. Today, I will be the best “me” I can be. I will share my experiences, strengths, and hopes with others, while learning from the experience, strength, and hope others share with me. In this manner, I will continue to grow.

By Jimmy C., California

The Forum, August 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.