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
The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love: Your Guide to Life, Happiness, and Emotional and Sexual Fulfillment in a Closed-Down Worldby Perry Brass
Belhue Press, 220 pages, 978-1-892149-20-6
Available from perrybrass.com
Also available from amazon.com
Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
Despite still looking almost like a pixieish teenager with a twinkle in his eye, Perry Brass is one of the wise old men of American gay culture. He's been around since the origin of the modern political/cultural movement in 1969. He co-edited Come Out!, the first gay liberation newspaper. In 1972, he helped start the first gay men's health clinic in New York (which still survives, now known as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center). He's a founding coordinator of the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City. Brass has written some 19 books, a half dozen plays, had seventy poems set to music including eight song cycles and, as his own publisher from before "self-publishing" as we know it became available, he's been a stalwart and founding father of the gay literary genre and of modern gay activism in general.
The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love is a book about the sexual and romantic and lustful side of gay life from the perspective of somebody who seems to have seen it all. He's lived most of his life in New York City and likely has. And his advice about it all is sensible, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense and deeply compassionate and heartfelt. Throughout the pieces of advice strung loosely together in fifty-nine short chapters again and again is the reminder to love yourself and that the deepest part of you really does love you and wants your life to be the best it can be. Be true to yourself and honest about your desires, and don't be guilty or shamed by desire--it's one of the finest parts of you and offers access to your inner life. What you desire and what turns you on is the clue to your fullest self. It is from desire that art and happiness and self-healing and love for others arises. And the suppression of desire closes you off from your soul. Sexual pleasure and fun and human love are good things in themselves, for themselves. They don't need to be justified by biological exigencies. Indeed, they are beyond--and deeper--than the overt biological functions. They are dynamics of the spirit.
As a writer myself about gay "spiritual" matters, I was particularly interested in Brass's term "Deeper Self" as the all-embracing term for the multiple and sometimes conflicting ideas of religion and myth. A lot of the advice in this book is about meeting other men for sex and maybe for love and long-lasting intimate relationship. Useful advice. The list of sexual fetishes, most by Latin names, is an education in itself. But supporting all this is a gentle and tactful theory of religion, God and the sacred as manifestations of a larger consciousness all human beings participate in and arise out of. Brass demonstrates the ability and power of gay consciousness to transcend dualities and polarities and reveal the truth about being vitally alive that is coded in the religions and cultures we've all inherited.
Even if you wouldn't agree with all his suggestions and interpretations of how and why gay men are as we are, you'll likely find his discussions of the issues interesting, good-reading, and enlightening. I bet you'll discover you learned something. I did.
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