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
Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging
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 Clausen
War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar
The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal
Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal
The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre
Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak
A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey
Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes
The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes
Keys to Spiritual Being by Adrian Ravarour
In Walt We Trust by John Marsh
Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary
A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary
Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott
Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou
Internal Landscapes by John Ollom
Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks
Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler
Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert
Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal
Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson
Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette
The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson
The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire
"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught
Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology
The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons
Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert
The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker
Out There by Perry Brass
The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh
The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan
It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja
ReCREATIONS, edited by Catherine Lake
Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard
Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson
Dating the Greek Gods by Brad Gooch
Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan
The Substance of God by Perry Brass
The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort
Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives
by Joe Kort
Originally published by Alyson (2003), now republished in a 2nd edition, 220 pages
March 8, 2016
Available from Amazon.com -- new and used -- paper and hard cover.
10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do To Improve Their Lives
This review of the first edition appeared in White Crane Journal #62, Fall 2004
Back in the mid-80s, when I was in private practice as a gay psychotherapist, I used to give clients a copy of Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled after their first session. The book very nicely described issues that regularly come up in therapy by recounting case-histories of Peck’s clients and, more importantly, presented how the psychotherapeutic process of talking over one’s personal life history can dramatically change patterns that have proved painful and unfulfilling. Peck focused on the distinction between “neurosis” and “character disorder” as unifying theme of all the case histories, and so of his description of healthy personality functioning. (He also explained why paying the therapist was an essential part of the healing process—something every therapist in private practice has to confront.)
Reading about other people’s psychological patterns and life problems—and especially how they solved them—in itself can be amazingly healing, and can certainly provide motivation for making changes for oneself.
I loved Scott Peck’s book (it helped me through a “midlife crisis” of my own). I was happy to give it to prospective clients to get them started on their own healing journey down that “road less taken” to psychological insight and self-understanding.
Well, if I were in back in practice today, I’d buy a case of Joe Kort’s 10 Smart Things and start passing them out!
Though more succinct and to the point—and less quasi-religious—than Peck, Kort does precisely the same thing. Through recounting case-histories of clients he has seen in his 16-year psychotherapy practice, Kort presents a list of ten maxims for the successful gay life. Much the way, Scott Peck focused on the neurosis/character disorder axis, Joe Kort focuses his model of healthy functioning on a closeted vs gay/sex obsessed axis. And, most importantly, he offers the same kind of healing discussion that is therapeutic in itself and that gives motivation and zeal for entering therapy with a gay positive practitioner.
Kort’s 10 things are obvious, but bear articulation and elucidation. The Ten Commandments of Moses are obvious too, but inscribing them in stone made all the difference.
• Take responsibility for your own life
• Affirm yourself by coming out
• Resolve issues with your family
• Graduate from eternal adolescence
• Avoid (or overcome) sexual addiction
• Learn from successful mentors
• Take advantage of psychotherapy “workouts”
• Maintain rewarding relationships
• Understand the stages of love
• Commit to a partner
The book gets better and better as it goes along. I found the chapter on “Therapy as Workout” to be the richest. Kort defines the Gay and Lesbian Affirmative Psychotherapeutic approach, describes the common life stages of gay men’s development (following Erik Erikson’s familiar model mutatis mutandis), explains the concept of transference, and demonstrates how self-examination fosters wholeness and happiness.
Some of the chapters offer very specific how-to advice, like a six-point list of symptoms of sexual addiction or a twelve-point list of tips for successful dating. There’s an appealing interweaving of Joe Kort’s own life story with his discussions of clients’ stories and problems. The final chapter celebrates Kort’s own long-term relationship in the process of arguing that long-term relationships are much more prevalent and successful that commonly seen.
In the context of reviewing this book in White Crane Journal, I have to observe there is an 11th smart thing gay men can—and need to—do for their happiness and fulfillment, and that is to “Understand the nature of religion.” Kort discusses religion tangentially in the process of describing gay men’s negative conditioning. He doesn’t go the next step to explain how gay insight into the superstitious and obsessive-compulsive side of religion can help free everybody, gay and straight, to create a successful and modern personal “spirituality.”
This book is just what you’re looking for if you’re thinking about making changes in your life or entering therapy, or if you’re just wanting a little touch-up in your psychological functioning.
And—I know this sounds superficial, especially in light of Kort’s various warnings about falling into pop-gay sex obsession—the cover of the Alyson edition is graced with a handsome photo of Joe Kort (looking a little like the recently deceased TV personality, John Ritter). You’ll probably enjoy occasionally closing the book and gazing at the cover, thinking how nice to have a sweet, sensible, caring and realistically good-looking gay man for a psycho-spiritual guide. And how generous of Joe to have made himself so!
There’s additional information on the book and the 10 Smart Things at joekort.com.
Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness, The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell and other novels and books
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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