Toby Johnson, L.P.T.

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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

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

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

San Francisco Days 1970-1981

In 1974-75, Toby Johnson took a course at Napa Community College in Napa, California for licensure as a Psychiatric Technician. The Psych Tech license is a license in California in nursing with a specialization in psychiatry. In the 1960s, the Psych Tech training was the same as that for Licensed Vocational Nurses--L.V.N.--for the first three academic quarters, that is, the first school year. The second half year, LVNs study obsterics and pediatrics, while LPTs focus specifically and exclusively on psychiatry and mental health hospitalization.

The Pysch Tech training at Napa Community College coordinated with the Napa State Hospital across the highway from the community college. Students did their practicum training at the State Hospital.

Johnson had learned about psych techs from Terry Carlson. In 1971, while he was studying at the California Institute of Asian Studies (C.I.A.S.)--now the California Institute of Integral Studies (C.I.I.S.)--which was then located at 21st and Dolores on the edge of San Francisco's Mission District and of the Castro, through Ken Dyer, whom he met thru mutual friend Peter Roy, Toby befriended a sort of "hippie household" who lived up 21st St from the Institute in a wonderful five bedroom, three-storey house with a view looking out over Dolores Park. The head of the household was Tom Rhodes. Toby had met Dyer a few months before; he was invited for Christmas Dinner with that household in 1970. At that dinner or another soon after, he met Carlson who, recently out of the Navy where he'd worked in psychiatric services, was now working at Mount Zion Hospital's Crisis Clinic.

Having been interested in mental health services to the psychiatrically disabled--as a current day manifestation of what in Jesus's day were the lepers--since he'd worked as a "Hospital Chaplin Intern" while still a Servite seminarian, Johnson was fascinated by Terry's stories about the Crisis Clinic.

Also during those days Toby was friends with Rhonda Zobel, a young woman with wonderful flaming red hair, who worked as assistant to the Institute Librarian.

After completing his course work for a Master's Degree in Comparative Religions from CIAS, and realizing that degree offered no particular job opportunities--and, in fact, working as a hippie carpenter and general factotum for his Tantra teacher at the Institute, Kim McKell, PhD--Johnson decided to pursue the psych tech training with the aim of getting a job at Mt. Zion in the same unit where Terry Carlson, L.P.T. worked.

Toby was dating Guy Mannheimer at that time. Guy had some interest in mental health (though mainly, so far, as a client) and both of them were looking for jobs. They'd spent the summer of ’72 together working at the Mann Ranch Seminars. At the end of the summer, Guy moved back to his home at Werder House in Menlo Park (2100 Santa Cruz Ave) next to Stanford University (previously the house had been home to members of the Grateful Dead--They called it The Chateau; it is credited with being one of the first "hippie-group-living-together" situations).

Toby got an apartment with his college friend Paul haight ashbury sign DePalma and a medical student named John Shapiro ON THE CORNER OF HAIGHT & ASHBURY. When Toby and Paul found an apartment at that location for rent they decided they had to live there, no matter what the state of the apartment! In fact it wasn't bad--though Toby's mother burst into tears when she walked into it at the very thought of her son living in such poverty. But the neighborhood had gone down hill from the days of the Summer of Love. And Toby, Paul and John only stayed there six months. (The turret behind the familiar street sign was in our apartment.) Major gay philosopher, political activist Arthur Evans ended up living in the apartment next door. It wasn't till Toby and Guy returned to S.F. in 1975 and got involved with Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL) that Toby met Arthur. (Read about Arthur Evans)

Here's that corner in 2013:

The flat was the top floor with the turret overlooking the corner. Toby's room was the bay window, to the left, on Haight, (just above the banner with the red heart emblem). The entrance was in the landing with the two arches to the right of the fireplug. Arthur's flat had the bay windows on the top floor directly above the first tree on Ashbury.


(Paul moved in with his girlfriend and Toby and John moved to a houseboat in Sausalito on Pier 11 1/2 to housesit for Dee Cameron; John got sick that summer and moved back to Boston and never really lived in the houseboat. Toby ended up sharing the boat with Dee's friend's sister, a wonderful woman, Freddie Cobey, the first "computer programmer" Toby'd ever met.)

Toby and Guy made the decision to join the psych tech training when it was discovered a friend of Toby's from Gay Rap and the San Francisco Gay Counseling Service, Peter Goldblum, had just gotten a job teaching psychology in the program at Napa College.

In fact, a whole household formed in Napa around Toby and Guy that included Leslie Peterson, Spider O'Toole, Peter Goldblum, Doug Fairchild, Peter Hall -- and Susie Dosen who had a wonderful big white cat named Buffalo (who'd jump into your lap, climb up and put one paw on each of your shoulders and nuzzle your neck), along with several others in a neat old house on Coombs Street on the southern edge of downtown Napa.

The Psych Tech training was a wonderful--though sometimes emotionally wrenching--experience. The class consisted of about 35 students, most of us full-grown adults, though a few junior-college-aged young people--since the program was admininistered through Napa Community College and the classroom buildings were in an annex off the backside of Napa College. Among the teachers were Geneva Link, Patty Vale (a very stylish lady with a marvelous personality) and, of course, Peter Goldblum.

In 1975, Guy and Toby completed the training, got their licenses and moved back to San Francisco; they took an apartment on 18th St between Noe and Sanchez just down the street from the 18th and Castro gay nexus. Toby went by Mt Zion and, lo and behold, there was a job opening. He applied and got the job immediately. It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For three years, Toby worked at Mt. Zion in The Westside Crisis Clinic of Westside Mental Health. Among the other psych techs and crisis clinic staff were: Terry Carlson (who by that time was going by the single initial "T"), Oscar Peterson (who went by "O.P." --nurses, maybe especially male nurses, take on their initials as first name because it is how they sign medication orders they've administered), Richard Gibson, David Navarro, Christine Porter, Rudy Smith, MSW, Hilda Wedel, RN, Don Tusel, MD.

Toby stayed at that job while he went back to C.I.A.S. to complete the Master's and then go on to a PhD. in "Counseling Psychology." His class, which included Art Rosengarten, Howard  Rossman, Barry Shea, Ann Sibary, was the "test class" for acceditation for the Institute. Toby Johnson, in fact, was the first Ph.D. graduate in the Counseling Dept. The school changed its name the year they graduated. (They actually have two diplomas--one with the name as CIAS, the other CIIS.)

Johnson worked as an intern at The Tenderloin Clinic, a community mental health unit in downtown S.F. which had an official mandate to provide services to the City's gay and lesbian population. The Tenderloin Clinic's gay services actually evolved out of the peer couseling program Toby had helped Cliff Kraus establish a few years prior out of the Gay Rap program that met at a hippie community center called Alternative Futures on West Pine. (For a year or so, the counseling service operated out of the house Toby lived in on Arguello St at Clement in the Richmond District with a household that included Michael Ackerman and Dennis Conkin.) Cliff was very good at public relations and took the idea of gays-for-gays in counseling to the city's mental health providers. The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance developed from disgruntled lesbian social workers at the Clinic who felt we couldn't fulfill our gay/lesbian mandate because we were burdened with so many responsibilities for general psychatric patients in the downtown Tenderloin neighborhood (Ricki Boden, Phern Hunt, Carol Hastie, Mavis DeWees, JoAnn Lovejoy, David Greenberg, Karin Wandrei, etc.). DAFODIL inadvertently, I think, changed gay history, by getting the gays-for-gays model adopted as policy for the San Francisco Dept of Health. This came to the fore a few years later when AIDS appeared and San Francisco was able to mount a response because there were gay clinicians and because there was no stigma for them to work with gay patients with a "gay disease," the way there was in other parts of the country.

While Toby was working there, first as an intern and then as paid staff, the Clinic moved from the Golden Gate YMCA Bldg to Hyde Street and Jerry Polon became Director of the Clinic.

Also at the California Institute in those days were Elizabeth Kent and Melinda Guyol--who went on to create Southern Dharma Foundation in Hot Springs, NC out of conversations a group of (mostly non-gay) students at the Institute conducted in monthly dinner parties about how we could take our comparative religions training into our professions as mental health workers.

Toby Johnson left San Francisco in 1981 and spent that summer with Elizabeth and Melinda in North Carolina helping to clear the land for the meditation hall at Southern Dharma. (Among their North Carolina friends with Alan Troxler and Carl Whitman.) Johnson wrote his second book IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD that summer, reporting on the very eventful experience he'd had the previous couple of years working with Toby Marotta and URSA on the Hustler Study.

This webpage was patently intended to attract the attention of Toby Johnson's old friends from 1970s California. That is why so many people are mentioned by name; when they go googling themselves (as we all should do regularly--for all sorts of reasons), they'll find this page.

In summer of 2008, the net tossed out by the mention of the Psych Tech training at Napa introduced Toby to Renee Romanoff who'd been in a class a couple of years ahead of his; she'd later worked at the hospital and became friends with Susie Dosen when they worked on the same ward. Renee's email is

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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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