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
THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET:
An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
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
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
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
just as the AIDS crisis was becoming visible.
This article appeared in Blueboy Magazine, July 1984,
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.
These 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
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
back to top