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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

The First Rainbow Flag in U.N. Plaza for Gay Pride Parade


Toby Johnson has a certain affinity to the image of the rainbow flag because --coincidentally?!?--in 1979, Johnson had volunteered to be a parade monitor. That was the second year the original versions of the flag appeared in San Francisco for Gay Day, flying over the entrance to United Nations Plaza from Market Street.

He happened to be stationed right at the turn-off point from Market where the parade entered United Nations Plaza. So he was standing just at the spot where the marchers turned and would see the huge flags. There were lots of oohs and ahhs. Wonderful moment!

U.N. Plaza San Francisco

Here's the Plaza for a different event. There are two flag poles, flying regular-size American and U.N. flags. Imagine these with the huge rainbow flags, one with a field of stars, one without.

      original rainbow flag
It was very dramatic. The original flags, created by hand by artist Gilbert Baker, were huge and far more colorful than the rainbow flags are today. They hung from two very tall flag poles on opposite sides of the plaza so the marchers walked between them. They were made of parachute silk and so fluttered and rippled in the breeze.

Gilbert Baker and first rainbow flag

Pictured here is Gilbert Baker with that first flag in U.N. Plaza.

During the 79 March, Toby would have been where the little man in white is in the distance and about 100 feet to right.

Toby has a brief entry about S.F. Gay Pride Marches at outhistory.org

rainbow flag with field of stars

One of the variations of the rainbow flag created by Gilbert Baker on display at the
1978 Pride Parade in San Francisco.

Photo: Crawford Barton/GLBT Historical Society; all rights reserved.

Here's a wonderful example of how the rainbow flag has been incorporated into gay cultural mythology/iconography:

rainbow flag raising

In Judeo-Christian iconography, the rainbow refers to God's promise to Noah not to destroy the world by flood ever again. It's a sign therefore of transformation and of salvation. As a symbol for gay consciousness, it reminds us that we must be "saviors of the world" -- and in the issue of overpopulation (a different kind of flood--a flood of human flesh) we surely on the side of reason and good sense. There are enough people. Somebody should be eschewing reproduction for the sake of the whole planet--and in order to free oneself to focus on consciousness change, not just blind biological imperative. For human beings in the 21st Century, the cutting edge of evolution is happening at the level of consciousness. Gay people participate in the evolution of consciousness through art, idea, vision, beauty, compassion, prophecy. We must be way-showers for a world that seems to be getting lost.

An excerpt from Toby Johnson's Gay Perspective:

Obviously, though, there are more gay people now than ever before; that is, there are more people who are openly homosexual and who participate in gay-identified culture. That may or may not mean there are more homosexuals. But perhaps there really are. On a superficial level this is what everybody can see: 50 years ago nobody heard much about homosexuality; now it is everywhere.

There isn’t a great deal else the collective planetary mind can do about population except give rise to human beings whose desires and predilections cause them to live in ways that don’t result in progeny. Perhaps the appearance of modern homosexuality and gay identity is dramatic evidence that the Earth wants fewer people. At any rate, an increase in the number of gay people living full, contributing lives is a better solution to overpopulation than a devastating catastrophe.

It is telling that in the Bible story of Noah and the Flood, the rainbow is given by Yahweh as the sign He will never again bring about such a catastrophe. Now the rainbow flag has become the political and cultural symbol of gay community. Aren’t we the manifestation today of that divine promise made in mythical time? There won’t have to be a world-wide catastrophe because we are the alternative solution.

Our homosexuality allows us to think these thoughts. They may be frivolous thoughts, but that’s only because heterosexuals can’t even begin to think them. They are so beyond the pale. The heterosexuals’ God gives the command to go forth and multiply. We can imagine God might have other priorities.

We don’t have to recruit. No need for those toaster oven prizes. Nature keeps producing new members for our tribe. Even if all of us were killed off in a terrible fit of homophobic rage, in the next generation there would be just as many homosexuals as there were before.

What we need to communicate to the world is not that people should be homosexual and cultivate the styles of gay culture (though that’s not a bad suggestion), but that people should be responsive to their deepest psychological needs, to what brings them bliss.

We don’t need to tell people to be gay. We need to help them speak the truth to themselves. Hearing this truth allows them to respond to the subtle messages Gaia communicates. After all, it is precisely through sex that Gaia/God communicates. Through our physical bodies Gaia makes itself known. That is what Gaia is: the collective bodies of all living beings on Earth.

Recollections of San Francisco Gay Pride Marches

After leaving a Catholic seminary in Southern California in 1970, I moved to San Francisco. I had gay friends from the Order who'd already moved to the City; they introduced me to gay San Francisco, Roy Neuner and Michael Alpert. Roy was a theater major at San Francisco State--he played the lead in a student performance of CABARET and then later, with his head shaved, played the lobotomy character in the professional performance of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST down in North Beach (Martin Worman was the House Manager. Michael worked as a waiter at The *P.S. Restaurant on Polk Street. Their friends were the first people I met. I lived with them for a few weeks at 541 Castro.

Here's Crawford Barton's photo of 535 Castro. This image is considered an icon for the Castro District as it would become the gay mecca of the 1970s. We lived in the flat at the other end of this stoop, just outside the photo the right.

535 CastroHow neat to have moved to San Francisco and landed in the very iconic heart of gay community.

At the time though in 1970, the neighborhood had not quite changed--though the Midnight Sun had opened (at that time almost right across the street from us) and Toad Hall in the next block up. That's what started the transformation of Castro Street.

For a side note about living in iconic places in San Francisco see Toby's story of living at the corner of Haight & Ashbury.

Roy and Michael then moved to an apartment at Waller & Ashbury in the Haight and I moved to 10th and Cabrillo. I remember walking over to Golden Gate Park for a Gay Be-in -- the "Gay-in" in 1971 which was held instead of a parade.

My second year in the City, I started going to GAY RAP, the sort of hippie gay consciousness raising, peer-counseling and talk group that met at Alternative Futures Community Center on West Pine in the Western Addition. I befriended Cliff Krause who was one of the de facto "leaders" of the group. Cliff lived in the little cottage on 17th and Hartford that at that time was overgrown with vines. He started the San Francisco Gay Counseling Service telephone hotline out of that house. He recruited volunteers to work the hotline from Gay Rap. Because I'd had experience in the seminary of working as a chaplain intern in a psychiatric hospital and been exposed to T-group process in religious life, AND because, I guess, I had a crush on Cliff, I joined up with his gay counseling project. Later Cliff and the Counseling Service moved over to the house I was living in at Arguello and Clement.

In 1972, the Gay Counseling Service volunteers and Gay Rap attendees marched in a Gay Pride parade that started in the Financial District and then marched down Post to Polk Street for a rally in the Civic Center. I have a memory of being in the back of a beat-up old red pickup truck that was bringing up the rear of the march. The Rev. Ray Broshears was either walking along side or riding in the truck.

(Through Cliff Krause I met Don Clark and the early practitioners of "gay-oriented psychotherapy." The Tenderloin Clinic community mental health center with a gay service mandate was a direct result of Cliff's lobbying the City (through Dr. Art Carfagni, a gay psychiatrist working in mental health) to take on and professionalize the work of the Gay Counseling Service. I later did an internship for a counseling license at that clinic and was then part of the D.A.F.O.D.I.L. ALLIANCE. That's another story, but it's worth noting that this gay mental workers group-- Dykes and Faggots Organized to Defeat Institutionalized Liberalism --organized a march on June 24, 1977 from the Clinic at Golden Gate and Market to the Civic Center and then down Larkin to the SF Mental Health Services office, led by a Lesbian Brass Marching Band that attracted so much attention that hundreds and hundreds of people followed; the head of services, Dr. Bill Goldman, immediately agreed to our demands, gave the clinic an extra $60,000, hired Pat Norman to manage gay services and set up a task force to oversee gay health services in S.F. This may have been one of the most successful gay marches in history!)

My best Gay Pride Parade memory is of 1979. I'd volunteered to be a parade monitor. I happened to be stationed right at the turn-off point from Market where the parade entered United Nations Plaza. So I was standing just at the spot where the marchers turned and could see the huge rainbow flags. There were lots of oohs and ahhs. Wonderful moment!

It was very dramatic. The original flags that first flew the year before in 1978, created by hand by artist Gilbert Baker, were huge and far more multicolored than the rainbow flags of today. They hung from two very tall flag poles on opposite sides of the plaza so the marchers walked between them. They were made of parachute silk and fluttered and rippled in the breeze. I marched in that parade with Toby Marotta and saw them the first time that year. After the parade and a shower back at home, I graduated with my PhD in Counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies that afternoon, June 25, 1978.

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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