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Safe meeting place for LGBTQ recovery will close its doors

A place that’s served people recovering from addiction for nearly four decades is shutting its doors. The Live and Let Live Alano Club in Hillcrest provided services for members of the LGBTQ community. KPBS Reporter M.G. Perez has more on why it’s closing.<br/><br/>

The doors are closing at a safe place that for nearly four decades has served members of the LGBTQ community recovering from addiction.

The Live and Let Live Alano Club first opened in 1983 and has offered recovery meetings based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. But the fellowship extended its outreach to other addictions like drugs, codependency, overeating, and nicotine. More than 40 meetings a week were held in its heyday.

With a steady drop in membership, donations, and other funding sources over the past few years, the LLLAC Board of Directors announced Sunday they will file for bankruptcy and close the club this fall.


In an email sent to club members and in a public social media post, Chairman Michael Germain stated, "Fundraising and membership the club experienced have settled into a consistent downward trend, with reductions in membership, donations, and funding — as people can attend more and more meetings elsewhere, against a backdrop of skyrocketing rent prices in San Diego."

Hank Clark waits for an AA meeting to begin, Monday, at the Live and Let Live Alano Club in Hillcrest, San Diego, Calif, on September 12, 2022.
Roland Lizarando
Hank Clark waits for an AA meeting to begin, Monday, at the Live and Let Live Alano Club in Hillcrest, San Diego, Calif, on September 12, 2022.

Hank Clark has been clean and sober for 16 years. He first walked into the Alano Club at its original location near the corner of 4th and University in the heart of Hillcrest. It later moved to a building in University Heights and most recently has been located on Park Boulevard and University.

“Meetings keep us accountable and they are important for different people for different reasons,” Clark said. “I come for the fellowship.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” Mel P. told KPBS News. He got sober by attending meetings at the club 37 years ago. He remembers dance parties and community meals served for every holiday that gave members a place to avoid temptation and be safe to celebrate exactly who they are.

“It’s not always easy to show up at a meeting that’s mixed or primarily heterosexual or, say, hetero-sexist,” he said. “The terminology is really assumed that people are straight unless they come out.”


The loss of the club comes at a time when fentanyl and methamphetamine overdose deaths are rampant in the gay community. According to the National Library of Medicine, gays and other sexual minorities are more than twice as likely to abuse drugs than their straight peers.

While terms of bankruptcy are negotiated, the doors are expected to stay open for at least several more weeks. According to one board member, the club manager will help groups find other meeting places.

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