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
Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication
By Tim R. Clausen
Foreword by Robert Barzan
296 pages, 978-1492822257
Available from amazon.com:
Love Together:: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication
Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness & Gay Perspective: Things our [homo]sexuality tells us about the nature of God and the Universe.
Over a number of years, Tim Clausen interviewed gay couples about their lives together. He asked questions that elicited thoughtful reports about sexuality and affection and romance as well as very practical advice about sharing money and making decisions, (even, maybe, choosing pets). Love Together is a collection of some twenty-three of these interviews, arranged in order of length of the relationship.
The book is easy to read and quite interesting. All of the couples are nice people whom you'd probably like to have as friends. A few are relatively famous; they had to be at least slightly prominent as activists and/or gay community figures for Clausen to have found them to interview. But they are all regular guys, people whose life experiences are not that different or special from the rest of us. So their sharing is meaningful. Their experiences--of the joys and difficulties, up and downs--are normal. The accounts of love and intimacy resonated for me with my own experience of a thirty-plus year relationship.
In my life as a gay activist, I have been both a gay counselor and a gay bookstore owner (though the issues around confidentiality are different, there's a surprising amount of overlap in those two jobs!). In both contexts, I often found myself suggesting to people that the way to find a relationship or to improve the relationship one is in is to read about other relationships. Books about love and intimacy create the mindset that expects love and intimacy to be part of life. Reading about successful relationships prepares one for a relationship to be successful because that is the model you have in mind. Most of psychotherapy is about setting up positive self-fulfilling prophecies for yourself, because that is most likely what you're going to get out of life. We get what we expect.
Tim Clausen's Love Together is a wonderful demonstration of just such an exercise in creating self-fulfilling prophecies for love and intimacy and even coping with grief and loss. (One of the men in the last couple presented died before the book was finished and there's an additional interview with his partner about that difficult experience.)
The interviews are arranged roughly in chronological order. So they span some sixty-five years. That means from the 1940s to the present, from the time of homosexuality as crime and sin, through the sexual revolution, then AIDS, to the present time of same-sex marriage and gay families with children.
My partner, Kip, and I did an Earthwatch Expedition some years ago working in an archeological dig on the island of Mallorca--such shared adventures like that are part of what create texture in a loving relationship. The archaeologist running the dig was famous for having discovered a cave on the island that had a deep pit a little ways back inside, so anything from animal to human that sought shelter in the cave fell into the pit and couldn't escape. When Dr. Waldren found the cave, it proved to be a record of life on the Mediterranean island for 250,000 years, all nicely layered in chronological order. Tim Clausen's interviews, of course, don't go back that far, but DO function very much like the strata in that cave. This is especially true around issues of monogamy, exclusivity and sexual adventuring.
What you can see is that there is a stratification, i.e., stages of development, both in the individaul relationships and in the collective world through which the relationships are growing. Expectations within a relationship change over time, and they change within the context of the social and political reality of the past 65 years.
I recommend this book for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is the loveliness and even poignancy of the gay men's love and affection which the book so wonderfully demonstrates.
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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