Ralph Walker and The Loving Brotherhood

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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

Ralph Walker and The Loving Brotherhood

Ralph Walker

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.

TLB logoThe 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 spinoffRalph Walker doing Zazen 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

An Appreciation by Sunfire

Retreats at Easton Mountain, typically begin and end with a circle. I can’t count the number of circles I’ve been part of there, but I do know where and when I participated in my first circle of Gay men. It was in the winter of 1980, at the Barn, which was the home of Ralph Walker, the founder of The Loving Brotherhood.

I had joined that organization a few months before, and I came to The Barn not knowing whether to expect a prayer meeting or an orgy. I found a bit of both. I also found in Ralph, a man committed to a spiritual life, though not always sure of the direction his spiritual life was taking.

Ralph introduced me to A Course in Miracles, but that was just one of the ways he fostered my spiritual growth. By bringing together Gay men with a passion for a spiritual life, he showed us all what was possible.

For about twenty-five years, Ralph edited and published the organization’s monthly journal, often folding and mailing all the copies himself. For many Gay men, his voice was one of the few voices telling us that we as Gay men could have spiritual lives — lives rich in meaning and connected to the Divine.

Ralph Walker does not leave a legacy as recognized as Harry Hay’s. But his work was just as important. Over the life of the Loving Brotherhood, about two thousand men joined the organization. Many of them Ralph knew personally. With letters and long phone conversations he guided many of us through troubled times. He encouraged us to take an active role in political causes and to ground that activism in a very real spirituality. He constantly worked on his own spiritual growth. I wasn't always ready to follow him in all the paths he explored. He didn't expect me to.

Early in my friendship with Ralph, I remember his commenting on Last Letter to the Pebble People, a book about how friends supported a dying man. His words, after reading that book, were, “Death is a Victory.”

So, Ralph, congratulations on your victory. No one can really know the full extent of your influence — the number of lives you touched and helped and sometimes rescued. If, Ralph, you have a chance now to speak to God in a way that's more direct than we have here on earth, please tell God that I'm grateful for your life, and the example you gave to all Gay men.

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.

Contact me

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."

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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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