Spirituality As Artistic Medium

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

The purpose of homosexuality

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Why "Gay" Spirituality?

The word "spirituality" has a variety of meanings. One of the important meanings is "technique." That is, spiritualities are techniques and methods of religious practice that aim at altering and transforming human personality in order to achieve harmony with "God."

In that sense, spiritualities are like artistic media: pastel, watercolor, oil, acrylic, collage, etc. These are not at odds with one another. They simply have different effects. And different artists are drawn to and talented in the various different media. In that sense, then, they represent different ways of "spirit" manifesting itself in time and space.

Different people respond to different spiritualities. Women, for instance, would be particularly resonant to ideas about time and change, to images of the moon, to fluctuations in feelings, and the cyclic flow of life. These are manifestations in consciousness of the dynamics of menstruation.

Heterosexual men are particularly resonant to ideas about conquest, strength, competition, winning the race. These flow out of the heterosexual male mind. They reflect men's experience of sex.

Gay men respond to ideas and images of beauty and pleasure. Gay men are less likely to feel comfortable with competition.

Christianity has a particularly straight male predominance in its spirituality and imagery. The "saint" denies his feelings, strives to conquer himself, to compete with other men to be right in his thinking about divine truth, pushes himself to achieve the goal of afterlife in heaven, does not succumb to the temptations of beauty and pleasure.

A "gay spirituality" then might seem inconsistent with the mainstream methods of Christianity. Gay consciousness does not focus as much on duality and conflict, on self-control and subjugation of feelings, on reproduction of offspring and responsibility to future generations.

These aren't at odds with each other, anymore than oil painting with pastel. But they ARE different.

In fact, the male dominant tendency to see competition in difference causes the Christian male-dominated worldview to interpret homosexuality and gay consciousness as a threat.

One of the major contributions to the evolution of consciousness that gay identity offers is the vision of different perspectives. Straight people would do well to learn that the so-called "straight perspective" is just one possibile way of viewing the world. And traditionally this perspective has caused an awful lot of the suffering and "evil" in the world. Indeed, one might argue that the teachings of Jesus were really all about getting beyond those male dominant ideas about competition and conquest, replacing them with feelings of compassion, sympathy, and love.

The answer then to "why gay spirituality?" is that gay traits in consciousness result in gay people's seeing the world--and God--differently. Gay people (and gay men are different from lesbians in this regard) need gay spiritual images to resonate with in their spiritual unfolding.

We need a God who isn't patriarchal and demanding--like a straight male boss--or rule giving, but is loving and maternal. We need a God who isn't so concerned with reproducing offspring and keeping procreation in control for the sake of genetic purity, and who IS concerned about the beauty of the world and the pleasure that embodiment can proffer.

Why gay spirituality? For all gay people, by virtue of being aware of being gay (men perhaps a little more than women), being gay is THE most significant thing about who one is. Whether one is happy with it or not, that one is gay colors every experience. You're always aware of it. Nobody ever forgets they're gay. Since that is such a major aspect of our consciousness, our religious and spiritual experiences should arise out of that context in such a way as to improve and enhance our experience of life.

Our spiritual practice should arise from our gayness. Our spiritual wisdom--our understanding of the world and of the meaning and purpose of life--should arise from our gayness. Because, in fact, it does, whether we know it or acknowledge it.

Homosexuality is a kind of religious vocation, a "calling," that seems impossible not to answer to. In the mythic terms of religion, this calling is the voice of God telling you who you should love and bond with, your soul showing you how to follow your destiny.

To not understand one's homosexuality as a religious experience is to miss the best part of it. Our homosexuality is the eye with which we see God. And, in Meister Eckhart's famous aphorism, "the eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me." That is, how we deal with our homosexuality is how God will see us. That we transform our homosexuality into something life-affirming, life- and love-fulfilling, participating, contributing to the evolution of human consciousness is how we "prove ourselves to God."

 (read more about what Toby Johnson thinks "God" means)

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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