History of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous in Toronto, Canada

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous in Toronto was started by two members who were looking for a different approach to “S” recovery from that of another “S” program. Colin K. recounts: “David M. and I were members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) for several years and, in the summer of 2000, we talked about bringing another ‘S’ fellowship to Toronto.  I believed that this was necessary at the time because I wanted to reclaim my sexuality in a healthy way, and there was not a lot of experience, strength and hope that would suggest that our fellow SLAA members were doing this – particularly for those of us who were single.”

“David M. and I met for coffee and looked over the literature we had received from SCA and another fellowship that dealt with sexual compulsion, namely Sex Addicts Anonymous  (SAA). I liked the tools that SCA had to offer. In particular, I liked the concept of the Sexual Recovery Plan and the fact that SCA was founded by gay men, and inclusive of all sexual orientations (David and I were both gay).  The Sexual Recovery Plan was very appealing – sobriety was self-defined as before by listing the behaviors to be avoided, however, on the other side, there was a list of the things that were to be added to make recovery worthwhile.  This could include actions that would result in attaining a healthy sexuality. Sexual Recovery Plans differed from member to member, and were based on personal history and circumstances.”

“The Sexual Recovery Plan was like a breath of fresh air.  There were a couple of additional factors that swayed us – the term ‘sexual compulsive’ was a bit easier to swallow for newcomers who may have had difficulty with the term ‘sex addict,’ as well as the fact that the preamble stated that the intent was not to repress our God-given sexuality.  We were sold on SCA, and agreed to move forward with our plan and bring SCA to Toronto.  We initially decided that two meetings per week would be held. In a subsequent coffee meeting, we used the SCA Blue Book to draw up the format for our meetings. The basic format was this – we would read from SCA material then share on the reading, followed by a ‘getting current’ sharing segment (also known as ‘open sharing’). This basic format has survived to the present day, although some additional wording has been included and minor changes have been made to it along the way.” 

“In August, 2000, we commenced a search for meeting locations.  We approached local churches and institutions, such as hospitals and community centres.  We decided on the Women’s College Hospital at 76 Grenville Street as a meeting place due to its central location, good conference room, close proximity to the Church-Wellesley gay village, and ‘pay what you can’ approach to rent.  There were no other Twelve Step groups meeting there at the time, and it was felt that this would give the group a new and fresh start. Also, scheduling of the meetings was easier at the hospital, as the other potential locations were already hosting a number of community groups, and scheduling our chosen meeting days would therefore have been more difficult elsewhere.”

The first meeting of SCA in Toronto took place at the beginning of October, 2000. Meetings were held on Sunday evenings and Thursday nights. SCA in Toronto celebrates our founding anniversary on the First of October.

Colin K. continues:  “Our first meeting consisted mainly of SLAA members who knew us. These people continued to attend, but most did not want to leave SLAA.  We soon realized the need for community outreach in order to carry the message and to build our membership. We approached the LGBT newspaper ‘Xtra!’ in order to obtain an Xtra phone extension.  Xtra was the most widely circulated free gay newspaper in the city, and provided groups that served the LGBT community with an extension to their main phone number.  The names and extensions were published in Xtra’s weekly paper, and this service was free to non-profit community groups such as ours. We signed with Xtra for our ‘Xtension Agreement’ on October 12, 2000. Our introductory message with group information was then recorded, consisting of the SCA preamble and the times and location of our two weekly meetings.  This was updated from time to time until the creation of our local website.”

The summer of 2002 brought changes to the Toronto fellowship. Women’s College Hospital had been undergoing considerable transition, and gave notice that the rent for the meeting room would be raised to a level the group could not afford. Additionally, there were tensions and divisions among a number of the members.

In September, 2002, Colin K. decided to establish another SCA meeting on Fridays. He relates: “At the time, it was thought that attending a meeting at the start of a weekend would give members enough strength to last through the weekend.  An application had been submitted to the local LGBT Community Centre (The 519 Church Street Community Centre) in September, 2002, however, we did not hear back from them for some time. As a result, St. Luke’s United Church at 353 Sherbourne Street was approached in early October, 2002.  The church was agreeable to hosting our meetings.  Our first meeting there took place on Friday, October 18, 2002.  The group met here until December 27, 2002.  At that point, we were informed that the board of the 519 Church Street Community Centre had finally approved our application for the use of their space.  The meeting never really took off at St. Luke’s and so the members decided to move to The 519.  Another issue was that the 7th Tradition collections could not cover the $75 per month fee that St. Luke’s United Church was requesting.”

“It was hoped that the gay village location and popularity of the 519 Church Street Community Centre would attract more newcomers.  Also, there was no set room rental fee at the community centre, and this was very helpful until such time as we were able to ‘get on our feet’ financially. Meetings at The 519 began on Friday, January 3, 2003.”

The Women’s College Hospital meetings closed in October, 2002. David M. and Tony I. set up a new meeting at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 188 Carlton Street on Tuesday evenings. Initially, this was an SCA meeting and attended by many of the members from the Women’s College Hospital meeting along with the other new meeting at the 519 Church Street Community Centre. Some weeks later though, David M. and Tony I. explored the Sex Addicts Anonymous fellowship, contacting their International Service Organization, and the Tuesday SCA meeting at St. Peter’s was converted to an SAA meeting. This represented the founding of SAA in Toronto. 

SCA in Toronto therefore continued with one meeting per week, on Fridays at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, from 2003 until 2006. The Friday meeting gradually became popular and the group had a reasonable number of members so, with group agreement, Kevin B. decided to establish another meeting. There was a search for a suitable and affordable meeting place for a couple of years, and eventually the group also started meeting on Tuesday evenings at St. Andrew’s United Church, 117 Bloor Street East from Tuesday, September 26, 2006 onwards.   

The group had discussed outreach strategies at a series of business meetings from 2005 on and, with the prevailing changes in publishing and the ongoing development and expansion of the internet, a significant area of focus was the need for a website to carry the SCA message of recovery in the local area. The group set up a basic website in September, 2006.  

The two weekly SCA meetings gave members more stability and structure in which to recover, and the new website attracted more newcomers. Slowly, the Toronto fellowship grew.

SCA Toronto had had various routine dealings with SCA’s International Service Organization over the years, for literature orders and problems with literature shipments mostly, but we reached out to ISO in July, 2007 for more significant assistance with a website misdirect that meant people looking for SCA were encountering SAA locally instead. We contacted ISO again in July, 2008, when our members were ambushed after a meeting by a notorious pick-up artist who was filming a documentary. This contact led to Toronto having an ISO Representative at the Annual ISO Conference for the first time by telephone in February, 2009. SCA Toronto members then became involved in ISO Inreach Committee service work, part of which was to reach out to the former SCA group in Montreal, Quebec, which was found to have converted entirely to an SAA group. It was determined that Toronto was the only remaining city in Canada with a physical SCA presence, Ottawa meetings that we knew to have been in existence around 2003 and 2004 also having folded.

Frank H., an SCA founder from New York, visited Toronto and attended meetings for roughly a year from 2009 to 2010. Frank H. later sent us a copy of a letter dated April 1, 1985 which was part of an exchange between him and individuals of a group called “Obsessive and Compulsive Sexual Behaviour” in Toronto. This group had written to SCA in New York about sexual recovery and the SCA program. We were not aware of that group or what became of it, and to our knowledge SCA as such was not present in Toronto before October, 2000, although both the fellowships of Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) were.

With the advent of some new members with experience in other “S” fellowships and different Twelve Step programs, and a solid core group attending the two existing Toronto SCA meetings around 2010, Eugene S. started a third weekly SCA meeting on Wednesdays. The noon meeting at St. Basil’s Church Parish Office at 50 St. Joseph Street in downtown Toronto began taking place on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

SCA Toronto hosted the Annual ISO Conference in Toronto from April 20 to 22, 2012, representing the first time the ISO Conference had been held outside the United States of America. SCA Toronto has had in-person representation at ISO Conferences subsequently.

As of this writing, SCA in Toronto continues to hold three weekly meetings, on Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m., Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. respectively. Over the years, our membership has waxed and waned, but our meetings nevertheless persist. SCA Toronto is a small fellowship, but perfectly viable. All those with a desire to stop having compulsive sex and to work the SCA program of recovery from sexual compulsion can find the framework, resources and support to do so in our group!

Submitted by Colin K. and Kevin B.,

SCA Toronto, October 1, 2015.