Review: The Future Is Queer

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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

What Science Fiction is About

Review: The Future Is Queer

Edited by Richard Labonté and Lawrence Schimel

Arsenal Pulp Press / ISBN 1-55152-209-8
Paperback, $17.95 U.S.  $22.95 Canadian, 212 pages
Nov 1, 2006The Future is Queer

Reviewed by Toby Johnson

The title of this science fiction anthology edited by two respected names in gay publishing, “The Future is Queer,” suggests a prediction for the prevalence and acceptance of gender variance in the imagined world to come. Since sci-fi functions as a kind of new mythology—analyzing values, projecting trends, warning of dangers and creating self-fulfilling prophecies—such a collection of stories about how gender variance and sexual deviance will be accepted and even esteemed in a more enlightened future time would be appropriate for the cause. The triumph of science over superstition, tolerance over prejudice, and knowledge over ignorance does promise better times for homosexuals of tomorrow.

But that isn’t what the title turns out to mean. It’s more nuanced—sinister?—than that. The prediction “the future is queer” uses the dictionary definition: what’s likely to be coming down the pike is going to be very strange. Thing are changing and changing faster than anybody can keep track of and changing in ways we don’t expect or comprehend. So The Future Is Queer is a lot queerer than a collection of utopian predictions.

In eight substantial stories, one of them almost of novella length and one a four page comic strip, seven women and two men address and extrapolate issues of technology, medicine, surgery, artificial intelligence, cloning, spirituality, etc. to suggest just how strange the future might be.
The collection opens with accomplished science fiction writer/editor L. Timmel Duchamp’s intriguing—and gay male sexy—story “Obscure Relations.” A powerful politician is secretly keeping a stable of clones of himself from which to harvest organs in event of need. How this scenario would be worked out is interesting: the clones are staggered in age, they’re not allowed sexuality and are given drugs to curtail desire, they’re kept sequestered and are raised like brothers but with personalities suppressed. As the story opens, the eldest clone has murdered the original politician and taken over his identity and stopped taking the sex suppressants. When he returns to the secret compound for a little R&R and finds himself enamored with one of his younger versions, he is tempted to stop the sex suppressants for them all. The story raises some very interesting questions about identity.

Joy Parks’ “Instinct” tells of a future after same-sex marriage has become legal and gay people have been assimilated into society—and out of existence. It’s a world where all children are lab-produced, sex change is routine, dating is by computer, and an underground railroad helps real lesbians escape into secret societies where they can again be “different.” Here’s a Cassandra call to gay marriage advocates! Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. And Caro Soles’ “The Chosen Few” warns about the acceptance of gays in the military with a tale of two male lovers bravely, though suicidally, banding together, like Spartan couples, on a mission in which the homosexual troops are intended to be sacrificed. Being homosexual and childless might make openly gay/lesbian soldiers expendable!

Candas Jane Dorsey tells a wistful story about a circle of friends meeting surreptitiously to celebrate the winter solstice after the new calendar has moved official New Year to a more convenient time of the season. It’s a bleak future, but the friends join in a Wiccan-like ritual to pledge their affection and hope. “…the darkest evening of the year…” is the sweetest —and most poignant— story in the anthology.

The comic strip by Neil Gaman and Bryan Talbot (the two male contributors) warns of a future in which deviance has been erased from history to create a “utopia” with no problems! Q.E.D. Let’s not go there! The people are blanks.

Diana Churchill’s “My Long Ago Sophia” tells of government meddling and tragedy in the life of lesbian mothers. The protagonist’s trauma is resolved with the help of a virtual reality device and a good dose of self-forgiveness. The sci-fi gimmick of the V.R. machine deftly communicates a psycho-spiritual lesson.

Psycho-spiritual lessons are also the heart of the longest story, “The Sleep Clinic for Troubled Soul” by Japanese Canadian writer Hiromi Goto. This is an impressive, mind-bending, if somewhat disturbing story of a lesbian suffering insomnia after a breakup who seeks help through a futuristic dream therapy. Told from inside her dreams, the therapy reads like a psychedelic adventure with wild special FX. The story’s about integrating the disparate “selves” human beings carry around in their memories; it’s a lesson about being whole.

Several of the stories deal with transsexualism, envisioning a future in which sexual identity is fluid and alterable. The final story, “The Beatrix Gates” by Rachel Pollack—really a quartet of vignettes—imagines a cure for cancer that allows people to be redesigned from inside at the cell level and makes  “nano-transformo” —including sexual reassignment— unlimited. One of the vignettes is an allegory about transsexual experience using “Red” and “Green” as the mutually-excluding opposites instead of male and female. Even though the metaphor comes across a little obscure, this is the best description of transsexual drive I have ever read. It’s a marvelous example of how sci-fi can remythologize the terms of common experience to elucidate and give new and deeper meaning.

In the brief prefaces by the editors, gay literary critic extraordinaire Labonté writes about the veiled homosexual allure he found as a boy in sci-fi’s imaginative futures. I resonated with that. Partly because it is dominated by women writers, this anthology is not as overtly gay male sexual as Labonté hints. But the portrayals of gay feelings—of both women and men—throughout the collection seem accurate and insightful. And the promise the future is going to be very queer indeed is well-established. Maybe as a gay visionary, I’d prefer different futures from these. But as a reader I was well-satisfied. My imagination was piqued. And that is what sci-fi is supposed to do. This anthology does it quite queerly.

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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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