Review: Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective

by Ronald Long


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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

PLAGUE: A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.

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

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

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

Meditation

Historicity as Myth

Pilgrimage

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

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

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson


 A survey of history of homosexuality in religion

men-homosexuality-and-the-gods
Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective


by Ronald Long

Routledge

trade paperback, 198 pages, $16.99

July 2004



978-1560231523


Available from Amazon.com -- new and used -- paperback. Also available for Kindle

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies)



5 stars

This review of the first edition appeared in White Crane Journal #63 Winter 2004/05

    Ron Long is a teacher of religion at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He’s an active member of the Steering Committee of the Gay Men’s Issues in Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion.

    In Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective, he’s written an interesting and readable book that surveys variations in the way religion has treated homosexuality through the years. He deals with a rich (though, he acknowledges, intentionally not exhaustive) variety of traditions: primitive Papua New Guinean, ancient Taoist Chinese, Classical Greek, Islamic Sufi, Biblical era Hebrew, Early Christian, Native American, Buddhist, down to modern gay political and cultural movements, including antidiscrimination laws, gays in the military, and gay marriage.

    The book is full of delightful tid-bits about homosexual behaviors throughout human history. Some of these discussions are familiar, like Plato’s report of Aristophanes’ story of the original androgynes or the exegesis of the Bible passages about male to male intercourse. But some are relatively new to the discussion, like the Sufi spiritual practice of gazing at the beauty of young men to see God and the Buddhist quest for loss of self-consciousness in sexual ecstasy as an experience of emptiness and mutual co-arising.

    The interesting and curious aspect of the analysis is its concern with the mechanics of male-male sex. Long says, “Simply put, the thesis of this book is that religious evaluations of homosexual love and sex depend upon the way male ‘bottoming’ is construed—as does the resistance to male homosexuality in the contemporary period.” He argues that “the revolutionary importance of the contemporary gay rights movement lies in its—by no means clearly articulated as yet—revolutionary idea of gender, that male sexual receptivity is part of the repertoire of a normal, adult, fully masculine male.”

    The rather lyrical and touching conclusion of the book is that what homosexuality challenges is the notion that sex is about penetrating other bodies, doing something to someone else who has been rendered passive, that is, that it’s a kind of war. The male homosexual movement by insisting on the masculinity of the penetrated party, the bottom, Long says, is a movement for the spiritual liberation of all men. Getting over the fear of homosexuality and passivity would allow all men to discover they can be lovers as well as soldiers. Indeed, that they can stop seeing sex as war and war as sexy.

    Long has interesting takes on some of the familiar history. He offers insights and explanations that are sometimes surprisingly new and particularly incisive. You’ll be glad you read this book. It will expand your understanding of things you’ve heard before.

    The book is clearly written for an audience unfamiliar with these gay religious issues, i.e., the author’s students at Hunter College. What that means is that it seems to appear totally out of context and relatively unaware of the gay spirituality movement or the conventions of gay cultural conversation: Long uses the word “homophile,” for instance, as though it were a serviceable synonym for homosexual, rather than a slightly antiquated term that now defines an era in early gay organizing. “Homophile,” the term embraced by the pre-gay liberation activists of the Mattachine Society days, is not quite as out-of-date as that embraced by the mid-19th century Europeans, “Uranians,” but it comes across glaring every time.

    This seeming unawareness of the contemporary movement shows up in the absence of any recognition of gay religion outside the academy (by which I mean the “university environment,” but maybe also the American Academy of Religion made up of university professors). There’s no acknowledgement of Mark Thompson or Christian de la Huerta (or Toby Johnson, for that matter), no reference to Harry Hay or Joseph Kramer or the Radical Faeries, not even Troy Perry and the MCC. I have to admit I was disappointed to see that a “synthesis” of gay spirituality and religion wouldn’t even recognize what I think of—and write about—as the “gay men’s spirituality movement.” College professors talking to college professors without ever observing the real world! I think that examining the ideas about the nature and transformation of religion implied by gay spirituality is much more interesting and fruitful than rehashing all that stuff about the Bible. (Aren’t we done with that yet? It’s time to stop caring what those desert nomads were spooked by five thousand years ago.)

    By coincidence (?), just as I was finishing the book, there was a convention of the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio. I was invited by Mark Jordan to attend a reception for the gay caucus. I learned that the night before Ron Long and another member of the caucus had been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion of gay marriage AND had been ambushed by the Fundamentalists on the other side. Long had presented a well-reasoned and Biblically-based discussion regarding gay marriage. But it wasn’t a roundtable of honored equals; the gay speakers been invited in order to be excoriated, condemned, told they were going to hell, and made fools of by the other side.

    So while I want to complain that Ron Long’s book doesn’t recognize my and my peers’ contributions to his discussion of the meaning of gay spirituality, I want also to honor him and his peers in the Academy of Religion. These men are doing difficult work; they are contending with powerful forces and people who really do think those desert nomads’ opinions matter and should be enforced by law on the rest of us; these gay religion professors are putting themselves, literally, in harms’ way for the sake of protecting all us homosexuals from misguided religion. Ron Long and his fellow professors are truly saints.

    There’s much to learn in this book. The discussion about tops and bottoms alone is worth the reading. I wonder if the book might bring the word “homophile” back into use.


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


 




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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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