SA History and Same-sex Lust

SA founder’s experience of same-sex lust

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) began in the early 1980s, around the same time as other 12 Step programs dealing with sex compulsivity were forming. SA has always approached same-sex behavior differently to the other “S” fellowships.

In History of the SA Sobriety Definition and Interpretation of “Spouse” and “Marriage” Roy K, the SA founder has written of his experience of the same-sex world:

Years before recovery I lived for some months and slept in the same bed with a singer whose lust was same-sex. I was his agent, trying to break him into show business. He wrote me love letters, and I had to hug him before every performance so he could sing better. I wanted to make a million dollars.

We auditioned before Jack Entratter at the Sands in Las Vegas and MCA in Beverly Hills. That experience introduced me to the gay world and gay lust. Matter of fact, it helped me see myself better.

The very first phone call I ever made in recovery was to a man in AA who called himself “queer” (he anguished over it). He carried me across that first impossible leap to freedom. My first sexaholism sponsor in AA had been a homosexual prostitute before getting sober in AA. He took me under his wing. He understood what I was going through; he identified. He saved my life. He later committed suicide.

My “First Aid,” partner (p. 75 in the White Book), called himself “bi-.” He later married in sobriety. He was one of the original three members when SA got started in 1981. The third member was married. I knew I was no different than the gays and bi-s, and they felt the same about me.

These men were part of my very survival. ….. Many of my closest personal friends in the fellowship are recovering from same sex lust and experience.

In the SA main text (Sexaholics Anonymous aka The White Book) he refers to his own ventures into same-sex lust:

The more I indulged, the broader the spectrum of possibilities for feeding the obsession, including crossing the gender line. (Sexaholics Anonymous, p.16)

History of SA Sobriety Definition

In 1998 the SA founder wrote a history of the development of the SA sobriety definition and of the challenges to it. Disagreement with SA’s sobriety definition has led to the formation, by former SA members, of 2 new fellowships, Sexual Recovery Anonymous and Lustaholics Anonymous.


The SA founder writes to SA members with same-sex lust – 1998

Also in 1998 Roy K wrote a passionate letter to SA members dealing with same-sex lust. This letter addressed some of the critics of the SA approach to same-sex issues. The following extracts are from this letter:

some … would shove… (same-sex attracted SA members) off to their own “preference” pigeonholes, keep them in their place, leave them consigned to their so-called uniqueness.

Is that the kind of Twelve Step program that AA tough love ushered into the world?

I say that most of us in SA don’t want to leave you “outside;” we want you inside—inside the same “impossible” recovery we have to face. We want you to stay with us and come through. Who said it would be easy?

Many, if not most of the opposite-sexers coming in leave because they also fear they can’t make it. SA is not for the faint-hearted. We want you to STAY. Stay through into recovery as we have to do.

Yes, SA is counter-cultural—subversive to the elements in our culture which are so destructive to the sexaholic! Thank God. No apologies. It’s not for everyone. If you want the “easier softer way,” the culturally legitimized, you won’t want SA, and we wish you well, wherever else you go to find help.

Strange as it may seem, the blindness may well be deeper in straights. Gays I see coming into SA seem to know deep down that they aren’t making it, that something’s wrong. They’re willing to give up being so shrill and infernally demanding, forcing the world into telling them they’re okay. But look at the straights in SA: Some of us act like we’ve got the world by the tail. But how many have broken the lust barrier? And how many of us can see our pseudo-sexuality, our mis-connection with the opposite sex. Are we spiritually blind? We can’t see that we are the original sex perverts. We who pervert the image of woman and our relations with women into just another form of sex with ourselves. Isn’t that same-sex lust?

It’s easy to see how a gay’s very identity as a human being today is being defined in sexual terms. But it’s more difficult to see how our so-called straight personal identity is predicated on our broken sexuality. Why can’t we see that we are all alike? That’s the depths of our cultural blindness.


The Cleveland Statement of Principle (aka Cleveland Clarification) – 1999

In July 1999 at the SA International Conference in Cleveland OH, it was unanimously agreed by the Board of Trustees and Delegates Assembly (the SA fellowship-wide policy making bodies), to issue the following statement, which has come to be known as “The Cleveland Statement of Principle”.

In SA’s sobriety definition, the term ‘spouse’ refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman.

The fall 1999 issue of Essay, the SA newsletter, detailed the process that lead to the issuing of this statement

This was in response to a perception of ambiguity, in the interpretation of the word spouse, in the original wording of the Sobriety Definition:

In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous. We can only speak for ourselves. This, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse. For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust.

From pages 3-4 of Sexaholics Anonymous, copyright 1989-2008 SA Literature, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of SA Literature.

The Cleveland Statement was subsequently incorporated into the SA main text, Sexaholics Anonymous, (aka The White Book) page 192 and the Newcomers pamphlet. The July 2016 General Delegates Assembly approved inclusion of the sobriety definition, including Cleveland Statement of Principle, in all SA literature and on the SA website.

Questions about the legality of SA’s sobriety definition have been responded to in detail by SA members in a 2001 paper. Agitation in 2013 against the Cleveland Statement of Principle was responded to by one member correcting historical inaccuracies by the agitators.


SA members from a same-sex background speak out – 2000

In April 2000, in response to the Cleveland Clarification, the following letter was sent to members of the SA Board of Trustees and Delegates Assembly. It was signed by 66 SA members from the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Spain, Brazil and El Salvador.

To: SA Trustees and Delegates
We write as SA members for whom same-sex lust and/or behavior has been a major part of our sexaholism. Your actions in Cleveland to clarify SA sobriety in unambiguous terms have provided comfort and security to many of us.

Some of us could find little support for our goal of sobriety until we came into SA. Some of us joined SA because it ruled out same-sex behavior as sober. Some of us have boundaries which mean we could not be part of a fellowship where same-sex behaviour is considered sober.

Some of us initially approached SA sobriety with resistance or reluctance, only later to appreciate its value. All of us thank you for your clear affirmation of SA sobriety. We thank you for saying that SA will remain the safe haven it has become for us.

Participation in SA Service Structure

SA members from a same-sex background have served in positions across the entire SA service structure: local group, Intergroup, Regional, and then fellowship-wide as members of the policy making Delegates Assembly and Board of Trustees.

SA Member Stories 1989 & 2007

The 1989 SA Member Stories contains 20 member stories.  6 of these stories deal, in some way, with same-sex lust.

Page Title
1 Progressive Illness – Progressive Recovery
10 God Loves Me and Always Has
21 A Book for a Prisoner
31 The Hope of a Program that Works
47 It Has to Be a Miracle
56 As I Am

The 2007 SA Member Stories contains 35 member recovery stories. 10 of these stories deal, in some way, with same-sex lust.

Story # Page Title
4 15 Under New Management
8 30 It Has To Be A Miracle
10 41 I Can Never Take Recovery For Granted
13 54 Sober On The Inside
14 60 A Deluge Of Grace
16 73 Her Father’s Daughter
21 94 True Intimacy
25 112 Half Measures
27 124 The Sweetest Words
35 166 Welcome Home


Articles in Essay (SA newsletter) on same-sex lust recovery

Articles by SA members on their recovery from same-sex lust appear regularly in Essay, the SA quarterly newsletter. New articles can be submitted to the Essay Editor.

2019 December Step Minus One -The Physical aspects of Threefold Recovery

Unedited version

2015 June Fenner U.— A Remembrance My Path to Recovery
2014 September Essay around the World Rigourous Honesty
2014 March Grateful for SA
2013 December In the Hands of My Higher Power
2013 September Rocketed Into a Fourth Dimension
2013 March Loved Back to Sobriety
2012 September The Gift of Brotherhood
2011 June Celebrating 10 Years
2010 March A New Happiness
2009 March Facing the Wild Elephant
2009 December At the Airport
2009 December An Unwavering Vision
2009 December My Path to Recovery
2008 September Recovery in Marriage: The Real Connection
2007 December Young and Sober in SA
2007 December Only in God is my Soul at Rest
2006 June A Place of Peace
2004 September Danger: Taking Recovery for Granted
2004 June Half Measures
2003 September Just a Sexaholic
2002 June Welcome Home
2002 December Same Sex Issues
1998 September A New Beginning
1998 June Gift of SA Recovery
When the God Connection Started to Work
Finding the Fellowship I Craved

Back issues of Essay are available for purchase from the SA International Central Office


Recordings of meetings on same-sex lust recovery

Topic meetings on same-sex lust recovery have become a regular feature at SA International Conferences since the 1990s. Some regional conferences have also held such meetings. Some of these meetings are available as audio recordings. MP3 files of these topic meeting and other conference recordings where members speak about same-sex lust can be downloaded here:

2011 January Irvine CA Same Sex Lust
2010 January Nashville TN Same-sex Lust- Am I Unique?
2009 January Nashville TN Same-sex Lust
2005 Langhorne PN Same-sex lust – Personal 5th Step
2003 January Newark NJ Same-sex attraction: Common Solutions
2001 January Los Angeles CA Same-sex Lust and Recovery
2000 July Detroit MI Recovering from Same-sex lust
1999 July Cleveland OH Recovery from Psuedosexuality
1998 July Newark NJ Banquet Speaker
1998 July Newark NJ  Victory over Same-sex Lust
1991 July Chicago IL Banquet Speaker – Honesty