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
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
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
Ralph Walker and The Loving Brotherhood
During the late 70s, 80s, and 90s, TLB was a penpal list for gay men interested in New Age spirituality, run by this elderly man who looked like Walt Whitman named Ralph Walker. He lived in a Barn in the New Jersey countryside. It was a sort of DYI retreat center where Ralph had regular meetings for spiritual gay men. The Barn, as it was called, was literally a barn that had been converted into a meeting/conference center and a narrow but tall three storey apartment with stairs between every room where he lived and where he produced a monthly newsletter. He led "human potential movement"- style seminars called The All New You Experience at the Barn.
I think he should be considered one of the Fathers of Gay Spirituality.
The newsletters were mostly autobiographical material about Ralph, but that meant it always included reports on the latest healing techniques he discovered or channeled writings he was reading or trance-channels he was visiting at any given time, book reviews of what he was reading (or what other contributors wrote about that they were reading) along with accounts of his relationships both with the TLB members who came to visit him AND with the men he had fallen in love with. Ralph maintained a prison ministry (and was a fan of Bo Lozoff). He carried on a long apparently Platonic but very erotic and emotional relationship with a gay man in a prison a few states away from New Jersey.
The Newsletter started in 1977. The subtitle was "A Journal of Personal and Planetary Transformation." The motto that appeared at the bottom of the masthead spoke Ralph Walker's central message: "That out lives might make a difference." The logo was a variation on the Chinese yin-yang image of the Tao.
A typical issue of TLB Newsletter started with a column of wisdom from Ralph, a couple of book reviews (by Ralph or by any other member he could coax to write material for him; he was always trying to get more people to participate), a page or two of letters to the editor (he had a couple of friends who traveled widely and submitted breezy traveloques, then a page of quotes and life-positive aphorisms, a poem or two, then Ralph's "Love Letter From The Barn," where he shared his personal life details, all woven into the wisdom he'd started the issue with, then finally "The Back Page" that contained announcements and "classified-ads."
Ralph believed strongly in the goodness of human nature--on the bottom of pages of the Newsletter was often emblazoned the aphorism: LOVE -- in your Heart you know. And he believed in the essential goodness of gay people. He'd certainly seen the transformation of gay life from the 1940s when he was coming of age to the present; he died early in 2007. What a life span! What tremendous change! Ralph believed in change.
Ralph had been greatly affected by Werner Erhard's est seminar and the gay spinoff created by David Goodstein called The Advocate Experience. The "All New You Experience" that Ralph conducted himself occasionally at The Barn was based partly on Goodstein's program and even moreso on the "You Experience," created and facilitated by Hal Frank of San Diego.
Ralph Walker was a hippie, New Age wiseman. He certainly resonated the "karmic vibes" of an Edward Carpenter or Walt Whitman.
Here's a self-portrait sketch Ralph did for a little pamphlet he distributed to new TLB members on how to meditate and, specifically, sit zazen (i.e., the Zen Buddhist meditation practice of focusing on the breath).
Robert Kazmayer, who now is part of the community at Easton Mountain and goes by the faerie/religious name Sunfire, was Ralph's righthand man for years with the newsletter. Sunfire maintained the mailing list for Ralph. Sunfire published his own gay spirituality journal focused specifically on bodywork and gay tantric practices; his newsletter, called Touching Body and Spirit, took over from the TLB Newsletter when Ralph retired very near the end of his life. Sunfire continues his work as a body and spirit healer.
The work of TLB--and all such penpal/mailing lists--was taken over, and taken beyond anyone's wildest dreams, by the Internet. The LovingBrotherhood was certainly a forerunner of the social network.
Ralph lived a wonderfully rich and productive life; he died just a few months shy of his 88th birthday. 87 is a prime number. Ralph Walker was a prime man.
Ralph Walker May 27, 1919 - January 6, 2007
In the interests of honoring Ralph Walker's work and maintaining a history of the gay spirituality movement(s), I'd be pleased to hear from others who remember Ralph and The Loving Brotherhood and will keep updating this page to record the history. I'd be especially interested in getting the dates for the start of TLB correct.
Toby Johnson knew Marie Friend through gay spiritual activist Ralph Walker. She and her husband published a newsletter of book reviews, most related to New Age topics--ideas that were dear to Ralph.
Marie Friend has published a novel titled Star. It's described as "a brilliant tour de force through love bonds that were forged during the time of Akhenaton, strengthened during the reign of Henry XIII, and then climaxed in New York during the September 11 fall of the World Trade Center. The connections between various time periods are compelling and brilliantly wrought, yet what stands out in this wonderful novel is love. Friend’s subtle portrayals of love relationships from both the male and female perspective are deep and thought provoking."
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
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