The Gay Succession

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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

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

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

The Gay Succession

From Whitman to Ginsberg — and beyond

There's a fascinating article in Gay Sunshine editor Winston Leyland's Gay Roots, Vol. 1, titled "The Gay Succession." (see the Gaysunshine website -

                    In 1967, gay Beat poet Allen Ginsburg interviewed Gavin Arthur (grandson of U.S. President Chester A. Arthur, world traveler and adventurer,  and later San Francisco astrologer and companion of Sufi Sam), about his experience as a young man of 23 of visiting Carpenter in England and having sex with the then 80 year old. Carpenter had told Arthur of his own sexual experience, as a 33 year old man, with American arch-poet and prophet Walt Whitman, then 58. When the young Arthur asked how Whitman had made love, Carpenter replied, "I will show you." The account of their night together is very sweet.

                    Ginsburg discovered what he called a line of "Gay Succession" from Walt Whitman to himself.


        Walt Whitman (1819-1892) slept with Edward Carpenter

        Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) slept with Gavin Arthur

        Gavin Arthur (1901-1972) slept with Beat poet Dean Moriarty

        Dean Moriarty, a.k.a. Neal Cassady, (1926-1968) slept with Allen Ginsberg

        Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) slept with ...


                    This describes what we now call "degrees of separation." Well, I want to claim a place, albeit a secondary place, in that line of succession myself.

                    When I was interning in Counseling Psychology (with a specialization in gay peer counseling) at the Integral Counseling Center of the freestanding graduate school in San Francisco now called C.I.I.S. (California Institute of Integral Studies) in 1976, I had a client in growth-oriented psychotherapy, part of whose story was that he'd been, as he proudly called himself, "Allen Ginsburg's bum-boy." Now I didn't have sex with my client (whose name is lost in my process of confidentiality: my appointment book only shows him as M.O.), so that broke the sexual component of the line of succession. But my role as a gay therapist was for years more central to my identity as a gay activist than my sexual exploits.  So I am pleased to claim my place in six degrees of separation from Walt Whitman and five from Edward Carpenter. (In a different essay, maybe, I will report on my concomitant  claim to be only three degrees from Kevin Bacon--also through a psychotherapy client.)

                    For all that Ginsburg's Line of Succession--and my own six degrees of separation--is mostly camp and tongue-in-cheek, it is another kind of example of looking down into history and finding our connections with a rich, though secret, culture of our homosexual predecessors. Though we certainly can't identify the steps, I wonder if in similar fashion we may almost all of us be connected all the way back to Plato and Socrates and maybe even Jesus (who knows?).

                    There is a corollary to this observation. In the Line of Succession as it appears in Winston Leyland's Gay Roots, Vol. 1, there are those dots after "Allen Ginsburg slept with . . ." My client M.O. was certainly not the only fellow through whom Ginsburg passed the torch of succession. And while many of those torchbearers died in the epidemic of the 1980s, many of them are still alive, some probably not even so old.

                    The sweet story that Gavin Arthur told of his youthful experience of meeting the elderly Carpenter reminds us that there is a lesson about bridging the generational divide that we all can benefit from. Part of the discovery of reading Edward Carpenter's writings is seeing that there is not so much difference between people on the inside, no matter what their ages or time in history. We'd all benefit by overcoming the "age-ism" that characterizes  (and complicates) so much of contemporary American--and, in particular, gay--culture.

                    So, to put it bluntly, there are certainly men still living who tricked with Allen Ginsberg, and doubtless remember, who are probably now in their 50s, 60s, even 70s, who'd be quite happy to include earnest young queer men within the six degrees of separation from Walt Whitman. Those young men ought to be keeping their eyes open for those elders with their special gift of historical

Whitman           Carpenter       

Walt Whitman                                                Edward Carpenter

Arthur CassadyGinsberg   Mike-O     Toby              
Gavin Arthur                    Neal Cassady                 Allen Ginsberg           Mike O. (confidential client)      Toby Johnson

See Toby Johnson's article on Ageism called only half tongue-in-cheek: Buddha's Father was Right

rainbow line

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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