GAMMA: The Gay
Married Men's Association
Providing peer counseling, support, and outreach to gay married men, their wives, partners, and friends.
The Gay Married Men's Association (GAMMA) grew from the ashes of a tragic fire on October 24, 1977, in "The Follies," a gay movie house in Southeast Washington, D.C. Five men died, and nine others were injured -- six critically. Some of them were married.
A sympathetic rabbi placed an ad in the Washington Blade on January 10, 1978, to announce a meeting of the "Married Gay Association." About 35 men attended that first meeting, in a Bethesda, Maryland home.
Early meetings were held in private homes in the Washington area, but in September 1978, the meetings were moved to St. Albans Episcopal Church Library, in Washington, D.C. For six years GAMMA developed its support style for monthly meetings, published a newsletter, sponsored retreats with professional counselors, and established a network to assist gay married men in coming to terms with their sexual orientation in relation to their roles as husbands and fathers. There was no set policy for dealing with these issues, other than through discussion and sharing personal stories.
In March 1984, GAMMA began twice-monthly meetings at the Presbyterian Church of the Pilgrims on P Street, N.W., near where Washington's growing gay community gathered for entertainment.
During the next eight years, GAMMA developed ancillary support groups for wives, married couples, and gay fathers. The fathers eventually founded what is now Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition International. The wives maintain a national relationship with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Men (PFLAG).
GAMMA began to celebrate its anniversary each year with an evening of cocktails, dinner, entertainment, and sometimes dancing for the 40-50 men attending. These events were part of an advancing openness for gay men over the years, although GAMMA is perhaps behind other groups in leaving the closet.
Starting in 1984, some "GAMMAGuys" rented a house at Rehoboth Beach for a week in June -- now an annual event. At about the same time, a telephone hotline was established to respond to inquiries from gay married men, wives, and gay parents. The hotline equipment was housed in a closet at the home of a GAMMA couple for many years, until it was superseded by e-mail and this Web site.
In 1992, GAMMA moved again, to the Washington Science of Mind meeting room in the P Street neighborhood. After about four years there, the meetings were moved to the Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P Street, N.W. Meetings are held the second and fourth Fridays of every month.
The GAMMA mailing list, which is kept strictly confidential, currently contains about 100 names. Nearly 5,000 gay married men have been assisted by GAMMA over its years of service.
G A M M A