The term “sexual orientation” is not mentioned anywhere in the main SA literature: Sexaholics Anonymous (aka White Book), Recovery Continues, Step into Action books. The first time “sexual orientation” was directly addressed in SA official literature was in Member Stories 1989 p 49, in a member’s story repeated in Member Stories 2007. The member wrote
I see now it was not an issue of “gay, straight, or bisexual.” It was an issue of addiction. Once I put my drug away, for one day at a time, these issues seemed to vanish.
The early SA literature was written in the 1980s when the concept of “sexual orientation” was becoming popular. Just a few decades before that the term was unknown! Critics might say well what else would you expect when the SA founder, writer of the early SA literature, had such a “religious background”. His own life reveals there is far more to the man than that.
Many come into SA from a world where the “sexual orientation” philosophy is taken for granted. It is a dominant paradigm in the media, psychology and the law. For some it can be a shock to see that in SA it is not. The absence of the term “sexual orientation” is no mistake, no oversight. All the other major 12 Step sexual recovery fellowships (SAA, SLAA, SCA and SRA) have embraced the “sexual orientation” philosophy as part of their programs. SA never has!
A careful reading of the main SA literature reveals a different philosophy. The definition of lust used in the SA primary text Sexaholics Anonymous (aka White Book) is very similar to the concept of “natural law”. It is from the philosophical approach to sexuality outlined in the White Book that the SA Sobriety Definition is based. The Sobriety Definition is no mere add-on. It is intrinsically related to way the White Book defines the terms lust (Sexaholics Anonymous p 40-1) and spirituality (Sexaholics Anonymous p 46).
“… I hesitate using the terms “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” “gay,” “lesbian,” or “straight” in talking about our sexaholism. The terms are too confining and skew thinking with a prior mind-set that limits inquiry and affects experience. The terms are too polarizing and, I feel, inoperative. They miss the mark in the new context of my recovery. Words shape ideas, and ideas shape behavior. Such simplistic labels may affect us more than we realize.
We tend to forget how quickly cultural trends can be created by the media when it comes to sex and politics. It’s a terrible mistake to pigeonhole people, much less sexaholics. There would have to be as many pigeonholes as there are sexaholics. And the number of pigeonholes keeps growing. It used to be simply “gay and straight.” Now it’s “gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, transvestite, straight . . .” What will it be tomorrow?
Since then the pigeonholes of “sexual orientation” have indeed expanded to include intersex and queer. There is also the growing polygamy and polygamy rights movements.
Tradition 10 states that “Sexaholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the SA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” Thus SA “has no opinion on outside issues” like the concept of sexual orientation.
As one member observed:
My fundamental orientation is to the God of my understanding. And that’s enough for me!