A White Crane Conversation with Randy Conner



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Also on this website:


Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from smashwords.com, the Apple iBookstore, etc.


Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


Gay Spirituality

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness


Gay Perspective


GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe


Secret Matter


SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan


Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods


The Fourth Quill

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil




Two Spirits
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams



charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers


Myth of the Great Secret


THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell



In Search of God


IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey



Unpublished manuscripts


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


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  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

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  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness


Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"


About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality


Why gay people should NOT Marry


The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage


Toby and Kip Get Married


Wedding Cake Liberation


Gay Marriage in Texas


What's ironic



Shame on the American People


The "highest form of love"


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Gay Consciousness


Why homosexuality is a sin


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


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


The Gay Succession


Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?


The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter


Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium


Easton Mountain Retreat Center


Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey


The upsidedown book on MSNBC


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Enlightenment


"It's Always About You"



The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara


Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara


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



What Anatman means



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal



The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika



Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva



John Boswell was Immanuel Kant



Cutting edge realization



The Myth of the Wanderer



Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss



World Navel



What the Vows Really Mean



Manifesting from the Subtle Realms



The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


The est Training and Personal Intention



Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven


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Gay Spirituality


Curious Bodies


What Toby Johnson Believes


The Joseph Campbell Connection


The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)


Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy


The Two Loves


The Nature of Religion


What's true about Religion


Being Gay is a Blessing


Drawing Long Straws


Freedom of Religion


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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


Having a Church to Leave


Harold Cole on Beauty


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Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption


Not lashed to the prayer-post


Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality


Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process


Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)


Redeem Orlando


Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson



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Mystical Vision


"The Evolution of Gay Identity"


"St. John of the Cross & the Dark Night of the Soul."


Avalokiteshvara at the Baths


 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


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The Hero's Journey


The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016


The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)


You're On Your Own


Superheroes


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Seeing Differently


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


Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


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The Vision


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside


A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside


The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


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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


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The Secret of the Clear Light


Understanding the Clear Light


Mobius Strip


Finding Your Tiger Face


How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated


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Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


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About Alien Abduction


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke


Karellen was a homosexual


The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance


Intersections with the movie When We Rise


More about Gay Mental Health


Psych Tech Training


Toby at the California Institute


The Rainbow Flag


Ideas for gay mythic stories


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People


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 Mark Thompson


About Sterling Houston


About Michael Stevens


The Alamo Business Council


Our friend Tom Nash


Second March on Washington


The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"


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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: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises 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


Yes by Brad Boney


Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler


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 Revotutionary 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

An Interview with Ron Long


Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner


Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard


Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak


Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan


Rising Up by Joe Perez


Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez


That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco


Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman


Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang


MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether


Double Cross by David Ranan


The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak


Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry


In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson


The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson


Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray


Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak


Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor


Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien


Queering Christ by Robert Goss


Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage


The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato


Catland by David Garrett Izzo


Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson


Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main


Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd


Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza


What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett


Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans


Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen


Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden


The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood


Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman


The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak


3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke


Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak


Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon


Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message


Life Interrupted by Michael Parise


Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire


The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman


Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny


Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman


True Religion by J.L. Weinberg


The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer


Everything is God by Jay Michaelson


Reflection by Dennis Merritt


Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson


Hard Lesson by James Gaston


God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson


The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson


Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther


Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen


The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether


The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber


AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar


Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost


The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal


Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal


In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane


Walking on Glory by Edward Swift


The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey


Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire


Enigma by Lloyd Meeker


Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson




Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:




Gay
Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe


Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here







Gay
Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness



gay-spirituality-audiobook
Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here








charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman







secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction

updated







Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance





Getting
Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 






The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE




johnson-the-fourth-quill-audiobook
The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here






Two
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams




Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here






Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III








In
Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld










The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.




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Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.



An encyclopedic mind


A White Crane Conversation with Randy Conner

This interview appeared in White Crane Journal, #65, Summer 2005


Toby Johnson: Randy, you have quite appropriately earned the epithet “an encyclopedic mind.” Indeed, you’ve written an Encyclopedia!

Randy Conner: Thanks. I’m very surprised about the epithet of “encyclopedic mind.” I adore encyclopedists like Diderot; the best of them mix historical and cultural panorama with pastiche, collage, bricolage and other elements deemed ‘postmodern.’

blossom-of-boneTJ: Your first book Blossom of Bone was a vast overview of a wide variety of human cultures and the place of gender variant men. Your new book, Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions, written in collaboration with your partner David Sparks, again demonstrates a virtually encyclopedic knowledge of yet another culture, what you call African-Inspired Traditions. Before we talk about the new book, tell me a little about the Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit.

RC: We see the Encyclopedia, as we see all our works, as magical, spiritual, sacred, visionary texts. When we wrote the Encyclopedia, we envisioned it as a magical text found while excavating Prospero’s island (of Shakespeare’s Tempest). Thus we were disheartened by literary academics who claim that “truth” is a subjective, colonialist notion (thanks to Michel Foucault)who measured our book not by a mythopoetic but rather by an old-fashioned scientific standard alone (i.e., NOT “Tao of Physics” string theory or something new paradigm).

As for sales, well, let me put it this way. Fortunes are made from porn, self-help, and formulaic fiction—not from academic and kindred texts. Also, if one’s seeking sales, one had better not stray too far from the Judaeo-Christian path.

cassells encyclopediaTJ: You and David—and David’s daughter Mariah—have collaborated on these projects. Do you think your working together has shown you any things about the nature of gay men’s relationships?

RC: Working with David, my partner since 1979, and our now thirty-something daughter Mariah taught us that a queer family can work together on projects. Indeed, I’m pretty sure our Encyclopedia was one of the first literary creations of a queer family.

I could not have completed Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions without David’s input. Besides assisting in research and interviewing, he contributed valuable knowledge about the African-diasporic spiritual traditions, having written a master’s thesis for ethnomusicology on spiritual archetypes in popular Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian music. His being a librarian and archivist has also helped immensely.
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Beyond working together as partners, both of us, as having participated in the political and cultural movements of the late '60s-mid '70s, deeply believe in collective or collaborative work, especially in ritual/performance art projects; this can be a marvelous way to connect with gay men and others.


TJ: Is there a “basic message” or “meaning of life” that you derive yourself from your exposure to all this vast amount of information?

RC: In a nutshell, we’ve learned that if one is to penetrate the mystery of gay/queer spirituality or that of African-diasporic—as well as ancient and indigenous—spiritual traditions, one must be willing to accept paradox: for instance, that of the simultaneous stability and fluidity of archetypal expressions of gender and sexuality, their continuity and discontinuity. Above all, one must deal with complexity, diversity, and multiplicity. Neither gay/queer spirit nor spiritual traditions of the African diaspora are monolithic.

TJ: The new book is subtitled “Lesbian, Gay, Sexual, and Transgender Participation in African-Inspired Traditions in the Americas.” How did you get interested in this subject?

RC: As I explain in Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions, I became interested in these traditions in early childhood, thanks to my caretaker Lola. This interest was rekindled by sojourns in New Orleans in the company of Vodou practitioners and by encountering Luisah Teish and other practitioners of the Yoruba religion in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has culminated in studying these traditions with Santeria priests and priestesses in Havana, Cuba and with Vodou priestess Mama Lola in New York.

TJ: I got intrigued right away with the idea that there are rich traditions way beyond the so-called “Great Religions” Your book raises very good questions about the nature of religion itself.

randy connerRC: “Non-dominant” spiritual traditions like those of the Caribbean and Brazil have much to teach us, including that the Divine can be envisioned as Black, female, gay, and/or transgender, and that the Divine can be embodied by, and have as priests and priestesses, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. They also teach us that we can contact the Divine in numerous ways, including through dance, divination, and magic. That, at least in some spiritual households, our unions can be celebrated. And that we can attain a beautiful afterlife without giving up our love of the same sex. Beyond this, it has been very eye-opening and rewarding to take the intersection of GLBT and spirituality from the realms of history and spiritual and mythic concepts to particular spiritual communities and to see how broad notions play out in the everyday lives of flesh-and-blood individuals.  It has been especially enlightening to see how gay men and lesbians living in Havana express their spirituality. For them, spirituality or religion isn’t something one does on a certain day of the week. It isn’t something that is limited to a church or an occult shop. It’s intricately interwoven with everyday life, from how you brew espresso in the morning to how you approach your labor to how you care for elders and children and fellow gay people to how you pray to and dance for the divine. Of course, many Buddhists, practitioners of indigenous traditions, Matthew Fox, and others have learned this lesson about the spirituality of everyday life.  For me, however, it has been the African-diasporic traditions that have taught me that everything has a sacred dimension, that all of life is imbued with elan vital, “the force,” or, as the Yoruba say, with ashé. Although the transcendent plays a significant role in African-diasporic traditions, they, like Wicca and Neopagan movements and traditions and indigenous traditions, primarily celebrate immanence and embodiment, the richness of life on this earth. 


TJ: One of things I was aware of in reading the book was your care in using terms for sexual and gender identity/classification/description. I think of your earlier book Blossom of Bone. You very carefully crafted the term “gender variant men.”

RC: Choosing or coining terms to describe gender and sexuality is a very thorny project, like sauntering through a minefield. I regret some of the terminology I used in earlier works—it was what was available to me at the time. Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine whether a certain person or group can best be described as “androgynous,” “effeminate,” “transgender,” etc.

As I grow older and learn more, I feel that gay and transgender may or may not share a bond. My vision has grown to include traditionally masculine gay men, leather men. Certainly, not all gay people express gender diversity. Yet it is of course sometimes the case that one encounters both transgender and gay expression in the same person, be it in the drag manifestation of Ru Paul or Lea Delaria or the transgender expression of Patrick Califia. Some transgender friends have also taught me that one can mix gay, transgender, leather, & other identities—ah, the joy of complexity! I do believe that both gay and transgender persons and groups can serve as role models for each other, as well as for traditionally gendered and heterosexual persons who feel deeply drawn to these diverse manifestations. I would say that I try harder these days to be careful of appropriating others’ cultural & historical, gender, and sexual roles.


TJ: What does “Queering” mean in the title of the book?

RC: ‘Queering’ refers to exploring the LGBT dimension of these traditions, and more generally, to challenging and hopefully subverting hegemonic conceptions of gender, sexuality, and the sacred.

As for use of the term “queer” for self-identification, North American interviewees tended to respond affirmatively, while Cuban and Brazilian interviewees preferred the terms “lesbian,” “gay,” and “transgender” or “transsexual.”

TJ: The feature topic of this issue is “Life/Craft.” Marshall McLuhan used to tell of the Javanese Islanders who said “we have no art; our lives are art.” The very idea that there is “art” separate from daily life is a modern Western notion. You made a parallel comment in the opening of the book about the Creole traditions not being “religions” in the modern American sense of church institutions, but being “ways of life.”

RC: Arts and crafts are extremely important in African-diasporic spiritual traditions. Functions such as altar construction (including flower arranging), costuming, cookery (including baking beautiful cakes), and choreography are often taken on by women and gay men. David and I have found this emphasis on spiritual/ ritual arts to be common to both African-diasporic traditions and gay/queer-spiritual manifestations such as the Fairie Circle. Not to mention all the other homoerotically inclined and transgender sacred artists of ancient and indigenous traditions—or the choral director at the small town Methodist Church!

TJ: For a writer, writing is surely such a craft.

RC: In terms of my own writing, and I think in this I speak for David, too, we seek to interweave the personal, political, and spiritual, and the factual with the mythopoetic. In common with many practitioners of other spiritual traditions and movements, including gay/queer spirit, we do not view the spiritual and the secular as separate dimensions of life; indeed, art prohibits this dichotomy.

David is at present working on a book which tracks his spiritual journey as a gay man and parent, and in it, he is braiding everyday experience with archetypal and mythopoetic reflections.  I’m currently working on my dissertation, which focuses on the significant role of pre-Christian traditions in the shaping of Western consciousness, despite being under attack since at least the third century CE.

Too often, even as gay men, we tend to forget that we come in all colors, economic classes, political and spiritual affiliations.  David and I hope that this book will serve as a reminder of this, that it will encourage LGBT readers to widen their embrace of spiritual beliefs and practices held by members of our communities, and that it will demonstrate that we can be spiritual leaders without sacrificing eros.  Also, something I’ve learned from these traditions:  it’s finally not about gender or sexuality per se, it’s about good character—iwa pele—how you conduct yourself in your life as an embodiment of the divine. I think gay men and others can empower ourselves and enrich our lives by holding this concept in our hearts as we go about our daily lives, and I hope that the portraits of / interviews with priests, priestesses, and sacred artists in our book can serve as models of this practice.


TJ: There’s an artistic quality to you and David’s lives, a freedom from “career” in the usual American sense of an all-consuming job and a life involved with work not creative choices. As I read about you and David’s adventures doing the extensive interviews in “Queering Creole,” I imagined y’all as “spiritual investigators.”

RC: Forgive me for saying this, but your comment sounds like “the dream,” not the reality. We haven’t quit our day jobs.  Indeed, there’s little time for dancing. It’s more like having two full-time jobs. This work has most definitely been a sacrifice. In economic terms alone, David and I spent over $12,000 researching Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions, and we have yet to see a royalty paycheck. We’ve also seen very few reviews, so we deeply appreciate your interest. Hopefully, the fact that the book has been nominated for a Lambda award will encourage sales. Why do I care about sales? Why not just write for the joy of it? Ask me again when we’ve moved beyond capitalism. Having said this, it has been worth it. The sheer joy of encountering gay men whose primary focus isn’t on muscles, shopping, or struggling to attain a place at a table whose wood is rotting, has, in itself, brought joy and hope.

I am honored to be branded a “spiritual investigator”! Perhaps David and I should start a business as “Sp.Is”!

You know, Toby, that your work, including your profound reading of Joseph Campbell’s work, as well as the work of other gay spiritual seekers, has inspired us in this. I think I can honestly say that David and I aren’t dilettantes. But we do try to learn as much as we can about the world’s sacred and mythic traditions, to discover the wisdom that they impart, and how this might guide us in shaping our individual spiritual visions and practices, in creating new myths, new sacred narratives, and most importantly, in more fully embracing everyday life, being more compassionate, more loving. Religion, after all, doesn’t mean you get to remove yourself from real life. Finally, it still all comes down to those glorious values from the Age of Aquarius—peace and love.

Ashe’-o. [May the Divine in all its manifestations open the roads.]

Available from Amazon.com

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Participation in African-Inspired Traditions in the Americas (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies)



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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine 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, four 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 and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

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