Tom H. on Lambda History
The first gay group in Dallas was The Together Group. The Together group was formed by members of the Metropolitan Community Church who moved to Dallas and discovered that the local MCC did not have a fellowship that started in California called Alcoholics together.
"Alcoholics Together" was religious in origin and, though they patterned themselves after all aspects of the A.A. program, they were not A.A. These men went to the Dallas Intergroup Association to get information about starting a Gay A.A. meeting in Dallas. A nice lady named Frieda suggested that they start an AA group and call it the Together group. One of the members owned a little Metzger's milk building on West 10th Street just west of Zang in Oak Cliff. We met there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 8 P.M.
For two years, I attended both the Preston group of Alcoholics Anonymous in Preston Center and the Together group in Oak Cliff. In 1978 that quickly changed. One night that summer, at The Preston Group, a man from Dallas returned from Boston where he had attended the First Gay A.A. Convention in Boston over the 4th of July Weekend. It was called the Boston Roundup. He returned with both the idea of a new Gay A.A. group in Oak Lawn and a new boyfriend. It seemed to all of us gay boys at Preston it was a wonderful idea. So we met at Harvey's Racquet Club Apartments on Hudnall between Cedar Springs, and Lemmon and formed the Lambda Group of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We quickly located space in the basement of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Oak Lawn and met there for several months until the church requested that we not smoke because the smoke that we generated was drawn upstairs into an area where they had choir practice. At that time a group here in Dallas named the Alano group had just rented the French Art Theater space behind the Orchid shop at Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs. That was our first Club house. Alano met Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8 P.M. We met Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Soon we were faced with Alano wanting to move and thus having to find a place for ourselves.
I would say the explosive growth of Lambda in the gay community reflected the experience of all Dallas’s Gays and Lesbians coming of age. We had outgrown sharing a spot and we found a space on McKinney Avenue across from Sassy's at 4525 McKinney Ave. The year was 1982. To this day it is my favorite location We could walk out the door and go to 10 different restaurants. The space was a designed by a lighting designer who was responsible for all the lighting and finishes. It was pretty elegant. We were in that location until 1986, and we moved to the executive tower on Mockingbird Lane where we stayed until the real estate crash of the late eighties.
We were broke and didn't have much money, and we moved into the basement of the Lucas B&B restaurant on Oak Lawn Avenue. Yes the Lucas B&B had a basement used for Rotary Club meetings for the most part. We were there about a year when we rented space at 2727 Oak Lawn from 1989 to 1996.
In 1996 the building's owner informed us that he needed a month-to-month rental as he was attempting to sell the property. We of course panicked and found a location at 3428 Butler at Maple Avenue. Here is an interesting aside. Up until that time we were known for our cigarette smoke. The three people who were in charge of looking for the building instructed the landlord to put a deed restriction to disallow smoking effectively making the Lambda group a non-smoking A.A. group.
We were on Butler Street up until last year when we moved to 1855 West Mockingbird Lane across the street from the DFW gun range where many of us checkin on Facebook when we're actually at an A.A. meeting.
There were periods of both great joy and of great sorrow that We as a group experienced. The greatest sorrow the Lambda Group has ever endured was the AIDS crisis. From the first days of the AIDS epidemic in 1981 we had members who were in the highest risk group for contracting AIDS. Those men under the influence of alcohol and drugs practicing very risky behaviour. One of the first men we lost had moved from New York to Dallas as a sober man to take a great new job, and since no one here had even heard of AIDS, we were shocked when he died in a few days of pneumocystis pneumonia because the doctor here treated him for just regular pneumonia before it was ascertained he had something else. It was about that time the first reports of death were coming out of the CDC. Very quickly we had some members who were patients at Doctors Hospital. I remember donning masks to visit them. As the HIV epidemic expanded we attracted new members to Alcoholics Anonymous. Those who were told to stop drinking by their doctors but could not stop by their own will power. I really have no estimate, but I would say that 1/2 of the HIV positive men that came to Lambda in the 1980’s are deceased, The HIV exceptions are alive today too.
Now for some Joy. We had our first Big D Roundup A.A. convention for GLBT in 1982 at the old Marriott at the corner of what is now Market Center Boulevard and Interstate 35. During the 1980s the Big D Roundup attracted more and more people every Memorial Day weekend from all over the United States. These roundups or conventions just like the early meetings of lambda were created to help Gay, and Lesbian, and later Transgendered men and women become comfortable in sobriety. The Annual Big D roundup has been held annually on Memorial Day weekend since 1982. It is one of the oldest gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender Recovery conventions in the country. It is a conference with attendees from around the USA. In 2017 it will be held at the Hilton Anatole.
Today, many people who sobered up at Lambda go to other A.A. groups and have not the problem of being an authentic human being wherever they are. I would say at a typical noon meeting at lambda these days, we have 10-20 % straight members of A.A., and at the Preston Group, you need 3 or four hands to count the Gay members in attendance there.