Notes on Licking

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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


THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

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

The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

Why people need homosexuality to be a sin

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

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

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

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

Is it Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process

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

Cutting edge realization

What Anatman means

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

The upsidedown book on MSNBC

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 at the California Institute

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

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

Blueboy July 1984

This article appeared in
Blueboy Magazine, July 1984,
just as the AIDS crisis was becoming visible.
The hygiene advice was precocious, though incomplete;
the mode of transmission of AIDS was still unknown at the time.
The advice is STILL GOOD thirty years later.

Sexual licking and other delights

Commentary: Guest Editorial

Notes on Licking

hese days gay sexual practices are being questioned. Health problems are causing people to reevaluate how they have close contact with other people's bodies. This reevaluation is good, but it should not result in negative attitudes about sex itself.

The following are observations about a gay sex practice that are only partly tongue in cheek.

1. There are biologists at Harvard who theorize that the role of homosexuals in human society must be genetically determined. They explain that human beings guarantee survival by wit and intelligence. Homosexuality is a trait naturally selected by the evolutionary process apparently because, by enhancing human society and culture, homosexuals make the race more fit for survival. I once met one of the Harvard sociobiologists: he was leaving the next day to deliver a paper at a conference in Europe on studies that showed gay men have higher I.Q.'s than non-gays.* Masters and Johnson found that gay men are more accomplished at sex. We must have something to teach straights about life-and about sex.

2. In Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, anthropologist Ashley Montague mentions the importance in animals of the behavior of body licking. Cats, for instance, lick their own genitals, perineums, and anuses and those of their kittens. Newborn animals that are not perinerally licked are likely to die of functional disorders of the genitourinary and/or gastrointestinal systems. Rats lick the anogenital area on an average of 2 minutes and 10 seconds as compared to 53 seconds for the rest of the body. Montague noted a study in which pregnant rats were collared with leather flanges to prevent them from licking themselves. Their mammary glands failed to develop by some 50%. And after giving birth they ignored their pups and let them die.

3. Psychoanalytic feminist psychologist Dorothy Dinnerstein** has theorized that, in human beings, sexual behavior replicates mothering behavior. Part of the pleasure of sex is its similarity to nurturing and breastfeeding experiences during infancy.

4. Because human beings stand upright and have relatively stiff spines (except for a few athletes and yogis who develop certain enviable skills), we simple can't lick our own perineums. To have the skin crease licked between the base of the scrotum and the opening of the anus-where the left and right sides of the body come together at the base of the spine, we require partners.

5. In animals self-licking is linked to grooming; not sex. But we humans don't groom one another (except some primitives who, like primates, pick lice off each other). Primates generally don't use their tongues for grooming. In human beings, the practice of licking another’s perineum would necessarily become sexual. Indeed, in human beings the tongue has become an adjunct sexual organ—perhaps because speech is linked to sexual relationship and communication is part of the power that attracts people to one another.

6. And as gay men know, perineal licking, of course, is sexual. It is one of the most intensely pleasurable of the sexual practices. Yet it is terribly taboo. Heterosexuals do not particularly acknowledge doing it. Shere Hite found that only 4% of non-gay men have experienced being rimmed. Heterosexuals are afraid of the anus. They associate any kind of anal stimulation with homosexuality. They say that it's dirty. They'd probably say only homosexuals would do something like that. And that's because, being the low-life scum of the earth, we're naturally into assholes and shit.

7. We know better. When we look at ourselves we frequently see beautiful people who are kind and good-hearted. We make good citizens. We're reasonably law-abiding. We're more rational than most people: we have necessarily learned to maintain "critical distance" from society. We are not nearly as crazed as heterosexual men and we're really less guilty of sexual crimes than straight men. We seldom rape one another the way they rape their women. The sex crimes homosexuals are said to be guilty of are things like "pedophilia" or “public sex" which are generally problems only because they are socially defined as such, are not violent, and are only tangential to homosexuality itself. (There are, of course, homosexual criminals: thieves, bandits, and murderers. And there can be perverted homosexuals the same way there can be perverted heterosexuals: people who mix sex and violence or sexually misuse other people, including children. But, as a whole, gay men seem to commit fewer homosexual crimes than non-gays commit directly heterosexual crimes.)

8. Maybe one of the reasons we're not as violent is because, as a fairly regular practice among sexually liberated gay men, we lick each other's perineums.

9. There are health problems involved with rimming. Lately the AIDS problem has caused many to stop rimming. Leaders of the community urge us to restrict the practice severely. Sex practices involving the ass can result in ingestion of fecal matter. Feces may carry protozoa (like amoebas), bacteria, and viruses (like hepatitis) that should not be taken by mouth. Indeed, amoebas were once thought to be the cause of AIDS. A virus is now the favored theory, but there is still evidence that amoebas in the belly depress the immune response and cause all sorts of damage to the chemistry of the body.

10. There are solutions to these health problems. The safest thing is to develop a steady relationship which is at least exclusive enough to preclude sexual contacts outside that relationship with any sort of anal involvement. Even in that steady relationship, good hygiene is mandatory. (Cleanliness is almost inherently indicated: who wants to suck a dirty ass? The fetish that makes for scat sex is quite different from perineal licking.) It's important to be aware of the risks of developing a microbe infection as a result of oral-fecal contamination. The symptoms can run from a mild, but peculiar diarrhea to severe abdominal pains, cramping, and fever. The test's are expensive and unreliable and the treatment is unpleasant, sickening, and also unreliable. But it's important that everybody stay on top of the amoeba issue.

11. It would radically alter gay sexual behavior if we all decided that rimming was more important than having multiple contacts and so we begin to limit ourselves to steady, trustworthy partners, with only occasional, very light recreational sex outside that relationship. But just such a change is what gay social commentators are urging because it would also reduce the transmission of AIDS.

12. If rimming and getting rimmed is really good for us psychologically—and if indeed one of the causes of the intolerance among human beings is that, because of the development of erect posture and later because of religious prohibitions which forbid them from assisting one another, people generally stopped perineal licking then  perhaps this practice is gay liberation's boon to human consciousness. Maybe this is one of the things we have to teach them about sex, sex roles, love and relationship.

13. At least, let us not assess that rimming is the expendable practice. We might then become as sexually screwed up as the heterosexuals who are running the world.

*This was James Weinrich, author of the wonderful book: Sexual Landscapes: Why We Are What We Are, Why We Love Whom We Love        back

** Dorothy Dinnerstein, The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise    back

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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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