Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
The way to get to heaven
Buddha's father was right
Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal
The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
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
Being Gay is a Blessing
Being gay is a blessing, a higher incarnation, a better way to be. These are notions many of us, especially men involved in the gay spirituality movement, may believe deeply, but seldom say out loud. Perhaps because we are especially sensitive to the problems that follow when one group claims superiority over another, we do not claim superiority over normal heterosexuals. But at certain moments--perhaps in meditation or prayer, perhaps in sexual arousal, perhaps at a gay bar or a political fundraiser or social event--we realize just how wonderful our lives are and how blessed we are to be gay.
Gay orientation is participation in one of the great
thoughts of the planet. We resonate with the lives of all the
homosexuals who have lived before us. And we transform their lives by
the way we live ours. We affect all the people around us. The world is
a different place since gay liberation. No matter how hard anti-gay
forces try to prevent it, gay identity has appeared and is changing the
world. That is why, as individual gay people, we have a moral
responsibility to participate positively in this worldwide change we
When you discover that your being gay is the longest straw you ever drew in your life, then you can put out all good intentions. You can love your life--even while you suffer.The specifics of our lives may be horrific, like AIDS. But that is the point. To love what is unlovable is to transform it. This is how we participate in the evolution of consciousness.
Being a higher incarnation isn't better. The long straw of gay identity implies sensitivity and vulnerability to other people, and, even, responsibility and expectation of heroic virtue. Being a higher incarnation, in the metaphor of Mahayana Buddhism, may mean being a bodhisattva.
Transformation Of Religion
Religion teaches acceptance and resignation to Divine Will, but all too often it also teaches resistance to the way things are, i.e., to the so-called human condition. Roman Catholicism teaches that the urges of the flesh and the things that give pleasure to the body are sinful and punishable by being burned alive everlastingly. Buddhism teaches that love of life and enjoyment of the senses causes continuing rebirth into life after life of suffering. Protestantism teaches that human beings are all miserable sinners only worthy in God's eyes because we are cloaked in the grace of Jesus's sacrificial death. These are not declarations of the wisdom of choosing things the way they are and participating in the beauty and growth of the world.
Religion inadvertently ends up being about unhappiness not happiness, figuring out who is to blame, not understanding and feeling compassion for other people's struggle. That is not the wisdom to glean from the mythological vision that has come down to us. And it is not a wisdom to be perpetuated.
With the transformation of our understanding of religion we can see that the sex-negative, body-negative, life-denying, punitive notions in religion need to be let go of to fall into the past--like the persecution of witches or approval of slavery.
Like the rose that would bend to the pruning knife, mainstream American Christianity should welcome the challenge gay people pose. Here is its chance to transform its attitude and beliefs about the mythologies of the past and to reorient itself back to the teachings of Jesus about love and compassion. It's time to give up Jesus as medieval God and to embrace Jesus--and Avalokiteshvara--as symbols of how humans can relate to one another, all as loving neighbors, all as different manifestations of the same Self of Earth.
The message of the myths is that we can make up our own religion. Indeed, we have to. We may do that, of course, by joining a Church or by becoming a student of a Master and accepting everything we're told. But we do it, not because it is the One True Church or because the Master is right. We do it because we choose to follow this path because we like how it makes us feel. We may also do it by studying various religions and selecting the metaphors that seem life-affirming and meaningful to us. We make up our own religion in order to feel good about our life.
God doesn't care what religion we are. God just keeps shining. We're the ones who have to choose how we think about God--or whether we even do.
This essay is excerpted from GAY SPIRITUALITY.
It continues with the next excerpt titled Freedom of Religion
Christian de la Huerta, author of Coming Out Spiritually: The Next Step, identifies ten spiritual functions of gay and lesbian people.
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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