Lambda Center Houston

"A Wing and A Prayer"

Lambda Center Houston's First Home: The old beauty salon at 1605 Fairview

As attendance grew, a question came up among the groups: could this small band of recovering gay alcoholics actually support a home, a center of it's own?

A committee was formed with representatives from each of these groups. Feasibility studies were made. Plans were drafted. Arms were twisted. Hair was pulled. The nay-sayers tried to out-scream the yeah-sayers. One of the three groups refused to support a gay center. But the people with a vision eventually won.

Yes, there would be a centerundefinedand it was started on a wing and a prayer. Some 30 members gave their pledges of supportundefinedeach promising to contribute $10 a month regularly, no matter what. In early 1978 a lease was signed for a small houseundefineda former beauty salon at 1605 Fairview. And thus, with a lot of paint and a lot of hope, Lambda Center finally became a reality.

A charter was drawn, by-laws were submitted and Lambda Center officially became a tax-exempt, non-profit organization on April 14, 1978. It's stated purpose was to provide a meeting place and safe haven for recovering gay alcoholics, their families and friends, and to support the newcomer in recovery.

The seedling that had been planted just three years earlier now began to grow. Meetings for gay men and women was an idea that had come to fruition. Winds of change were now stirring throughout the entire recovery community.

By the start of summer 1978, there were ten autonomous meetings at the new center. Attendance had risen from eight to 20 attendees to approximately 20 to 40 people per meeting. Soon it became clear that Lambda Center Houston needed a bigger home.

In July 1979 Lambda Center Houston moved to 1214 Joe Annie Street, still in Montrose proper. Yes, we had been at this address once beforeundefinedleasing one room from MCCR. Now we returned, and not just because of the pan-sexual ring of the street name. The entire building was now ours. We even named the resident tomcat Joe Annie; he didn’t seem to mind.

Lambda's Center Houston's Second Home: 1214 Joe Annie

Seating capacity here was 125 for the big meetings and standing room attendance increased the number to 200 at the bigger Birthday Night meetings. Supporting membership ran about 140, but there were hundreds more that found recovery at Lambda Center Houston, whether they could afford it or not. Awareness of the center was growing in quantum leaps.

In July 1980, Lambda Center Houston sponsored a hospitality suite at another intemational conference held in New Orleans. Our rooms quickly became the place to be. The hotel ran out of coffee. The hotel gave us a ballroom at no extra charge because we had so many impromptu meetings, with so many people sitting on the floor and spilling over into the lobby. Gay people from all over the worldundefinedEurope, Africa, Australiaundefinedkept telling us how much they envied us for starting a place where we could share openly and be the people we are. Just as the seeds had been planted for our own gay center, there is no telling how many of these people went home and pioneered recovery for their own communities.

By the end of the 1980s, Lambda Center Houston was home to over forty autonomous groups, four family groups and one special interest group. On average 600 people were attending meetings every week. Once again, we outgrew the space.

Lambda's Center Houston's Third (and Current) Home: 1201 West Clay

In 1991, Lambda Center Houston opened its present home at 1201 West Clay, a former warehouse with 7,000 sq. ft. of space. It is home to 44 meetings per week. On average 1,000 people come through our doors every week. We can seat 200 people for our larger meetings. On special and festive occasions we have standing room only audiences over 400 strong.

Lambda has always had an open door to the straight community - one straight couple even chose to be married at Lambda Center.

Lambda Center Houston is sustained on the $10 monthly dues of its supporting members, and contributions from each independent group and the generosity of members who make additional donations. From time to time we have fundraisers to afford repairs to the roof, air-conditioning system and other emergencies. There are currently 180 members. The Center is guided by four corporate officers (appointed) and a Board of Directors (elected by and for the supporting membership).

All through our history there has been far more to bring our membership together than just meetings. We have had shows, dances, bake sales, ice cream socials, spaghetti dinners, movie nights, pajama parties, three-legged races in high heels. Our own game shows - The Dysfunctional Dating Game, The Dysfunctional Family Feud and even late night meetings where dress codes dictated wigs and moo-moo’s. The mirrored ball in our main meeting room is no mere prop - we use it often. Lambda Center Rocks!

One of the biggest celebrations is our annual Thanksgiving Gratitude Meeting and Dinner. After the regular noon meeting, this annual Dinner is usually attended by over 300 family and friends from all over the country. A huge traditional turkey dinner is prepared and served to our members and guests.

This is the kick-off event for the Houston Roundup recovery conference that extends through the entire holiday weekend. While the conference is another entity complete and apart from Lambda Center, it signifies still another out-reach effort to contribute to the solidarity of the gay recovery community.

Lambda Center is part and parcel of a larger recovery community in Houston. We do not seek to compartmentalize ourselves; many of us are of service to the greater recovery communityundefinedlocally and worldwide. We participate in a broad base of services to the greater Houston area as a whole. We have the support of the entire community. For that we are very grateful and very proud.

And we are still growing.

© Lambda Center Houston - A GLBT Twelve Step Recovery Clubhouse

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