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
In the late 70s, I worked at The Tenderloin Clinic in downtown San Francisco. We were a community mental health clinic of an agency called Northeast Community Mental Health. Northeast M.H. had gotten the contract with the City to provide community mental health services in downtown S.F. in part because they had agreed to provide gay-oriented services for gay clients from all over the city and not just from their catchment district through the walk-in clinic in the old Downtown YMCA called The Tenderloin Clinic. (Northeast MH also ran a residential program for mental patients in the former hotel part of the Y.)
One of the reasons Northeast had included this plan in their proposal to the City was because of the lobbying of a gay man named Cliff Kraus.
A few years earlier, Cliff had sort of single-handedly established a telephone gay hotline called The San Francisco Gay Counseling Service. He ran it out of his little house on 17th at Hartford. He appealed for volunteers through a program called Gay Rap that met at the Alternative Futures private community center (on West Pine over in the lower western addition). Gay Rap was the premier gay liberation group at that time--1971-72. Many of the members of Gay Rap later moved on to be BAGL (Bay Area Gay Liberation)--from whence the Northern California Fairy Circle(s) developed.
I'd started going to Gay Rap and I volunteered to work Cliff's phone counseling line a few nights a week. Cliff and I got to be close friends and partners in the project. When Cliff's lease on the little house (that had a leaky roof and was rank with mold because in those days it was covered with vines) in the Castro expired, he moved, along with the counseling service, into my collective household over in the inner Richmond, on Arguello at Clement.
Cliff had been inspired by attending a Don Clark Weekend at Clark's little Victorian house in back of an apartment complex in Pacific Heights. I took the next Don Clark Weekend myself and was inspired to also think of myself as a gay-positive gay social service provider. Don was the unofficial "Clinical Supervisor" for the volunteers. He really was the theoretical leader for us. In the circle(s) around Don Clark and around the Counseling Service were Bill Horstman and Mark Freeman, a young psychologist who'd just published a book analyzing psychological studies of gay personality showing that gay people are not only not mentally ill but are potentially higher functioning than normal (Mark died of hepatitis within a year or two -- a wrinkle in his story was that he used to tell about having tricked with a man he was sure was Art Garfunkel.)
By this time, the counseling service had become the major project of Gay Rap. And leadership of Gay Rap and the leadership of the Counseling Service overlapped. Cliff (and I) had effectively taken over Gay Rap. Cliff was very charismatic. In addition to the big public gatherings of Gay Rap for consciousness-raising exercises and small group sharing at the meetings at Alternative Futures, we had weekly potluck dinner meetings at our house of the leaders. Peter Goldblum was a young social worker recently relocated to San Francisco who joined the project about that time.
The Counseling Service lived for two or three years. Cliff's major plan had always been to get the City to start providing these services and/or for us to get funding from the City to provide such gay-positive, peer-counseling services.
Cliff befriended an openly gay psychiatrist, Arthur Carfagni, MD, who worked in community mental health. Cliff got him to be supportive of our project. A little later the counseling service ceased functioning, because of interpersonal and financial problems in the collective household. By that time, Dr. Carfagni was onboard with the idea and championed the principle of gay-affirmative and gay-identified services for gay clients. Carfagni became head of Northeast Community Mental Health Services and so he incorporated Cliff's vision into the proposal for services out of the old-Y building which Northeast purchased.
There was a lesbian angle going on too. Phern Hunt was in the Feminist Therapy Collective in 1973-74, with Mildred Dubitsky, PhD, Saralie Pennington, and two other women. Nancy Feinstein and Adria Blum in another collective were also feeding into the lesbian/gay mental health system and putting pressure on the system to recognize the needs of lesbian clients. Already working in the system were Josette Mondonaro, MD and paraprofessional Pat Norman, both at an S.F. Mental Health Services clinic called the Center for Special Problems. Hunt was hired as an out lesbian therapist by the Outreach Team of Northeast Mental Health. Art Carfagni's lover, Floyd McBride, was also part of the Outreach Team. That, in fact, was really the beginning of the gay services. Art and Cliff were working on this from the board and greater community level. The result was a community mental health clinic in the downtown Tenderloin District that was given a mandate to serve lesbian and gay clients from all over the city with lesbian and gay therapists.
So by a very indirect route, the S.F. Gay Counseling Service evolved into The Tenderloin Clinic.
My own route to The Tenderloin Clinic and D.A.F.O.D.I.L. had diverted through Napa. Peter Goldblum by this time had gotten a job teaching psychology to the Psychiatric Technician students in the Nursing Program at Napa College, the Junior College across the highway from Napa State Hospital. My boyfriend Guy Mannheimer (whom I'd met through the Don Clark connection) and I and a wonderful woman named Leslie Peterson (who later worked for many years for International Rescue Committee) followed Peter to Napa and became both his students AND his housemates.
I finished the Psych Tech training after a year and a half, moved back to S.F. and got a job as a psych tech at Westside Community Mental Health in the Crisis Clinic at Mt Zion Hospital, then went back to grad school at C.I.I.S. and got a PhD in Counseling Psychology. In a wonderfully circular way, I did my internship at The Tenderloin Clinic and then, after finishing the internship, was hired as a staff therapist.
All that is backstory to the importance of The Tenderloin Clinic. (The rest of the story is told on the page about The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance.)
After a couple of years the gay & lesbian therapists at The Tenderloin Clinic began complaining that we had too many non-gay mental health clients from the catchment district to see to fulfill our mandate to serve gay clients from around the city with gay-positive counseling. Fired up especially by Carol Hastie, a lesbian-feminist social worker who was sensitive to the subtle ways institutions perpetuate oppression in the name of "responding" to it, the clinic staff organized as Dykes and Faggots Organized to Defeat Institutionalized Liberalism (which meant sounding gay-positive in theory, but in fact being dismissive of minority needs and disrespectful of the gay population).
We had a demonstration and march -- which was lead by a Lesbian Marching Band with loud brass instruments including a tuba -- from the clinic to City Hall then over to the Community Mental Health Services office on Larkin. The Director of Mental Health, Dr Bill Goldman, offered us $60,000 to expand the clinic AND set up a gay mental health task force to make recommendations for how the city could provide gay-positive, gay-affirmative services.
That task force met for six months to a year. I ended up co-chair/male spokesperson of the Task Force. The female co-chair was JoAnn Lovejoy. We achieved two goals: a job in the Health Dept as head of g/l services for a black lesbian mother Pat Norman (who later ran for City Supervisor) and the acceptance of The Gay Client's Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights declared the right of gay clients to get gay-identified services and/or to at least be sure they didn't get an anti-gay therapist. It put into official policy the idea of gay therapist/gay doctors for gay clients/gay patients.
I think this indirectly had major consequences a few years later for AIDS services. It helped establish that AIDS patients should have gay doctors and helped make gay medicine respectable and allowed gay doctors to practice as openly gay.
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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