queer god de amorQueer God de Amor (Disruptive Cartographers: Doing Theology Latinatamenta)
by Miguel H. Díaz

Contact Us

Table of Contents

Search Site

home  Home

Google listing of all pages on this website

Site Map

Toby Johnson's Facebook page

Toby Johnson's YouTube channel

Toby Johnson on Wikipedia

Toby Johnson Amazon Author Page

Secure Site Comodo Seal

Secure site at


rainbow line

Also on this website:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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

Finding God


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


Unpublished manuscripts

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

rainbow line

rainbow line

  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 with a list of topics in Austin LGBT History

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"

rainbow line

Gay Consciousness

Why homosexuality is a sin

The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Advice to Future Gay Historians

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What is Gay Perspective?

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Myths, Salvation and the Great Secret with Rich Grzesiak

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

Queer men, myths and Reincarnation

Was I (or you) at Stonewall?

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

rainbow line


"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

The Nature of Suffering and The Four Quills

You're Not A Wave

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

Toby's Experience of Zen

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

What happens at Death?

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

A Funny Story: The Rug Salesmen of Istanbul

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

Drawing a Long Straw: Ketamine at the Mann Ranch

Alan Watts & Multiple Solipsism

How I Learned Chakra Meditation

Je ne Regrette Rien

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Not lashed to the prayer-post

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

The Monastic Schedule: a whimsy

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

rainbow line

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


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

Sex with God

Merging Religion and Sex

Revolution Through Consciousness Change: GSV 2019

God as Metaphor

More Metaphors for God

A non-personal metaphor God

Jesus and the Wedding Feast

Tonglen in the Radisson Varanasi

The Closet of Horrors

What is Truth?

rainbow line

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016

The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)

You're On Your Own


rainbow line

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?

A Different Take on Leathersex

Seeing Pornography Differently

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

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

My first Peace March

Toby Marotta & Sons of Harvard

Toby Marotta's Politics of Homosexuality

rainbow line


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

Our friend Cliff Douglas

Second March on Washington

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

rainbow line

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

In Search of Lost Lives by Michael Goddart

Queer Magic by Tomas Prower

God in Your Body by Jay Michaelson

Science Whispering Spirit by Gary Preuss

Friends of Dorothy by Dee Michel

New by Whitley Strieber

Developing Supersensible Perception by Shelli Renee Joye

Sage Sapien by Johnson Chong

Tarot of the Future by Arthur Rosengarten

Brothers Across Time by Brad Boney

Impresario of Castro Street by Marc Huestis

Deathless by Andrew Ramer

The Pagan Heart of the West, Vol 1 by Randy P. Conner

Practical Tantra by William Schindler

The Flip by Jeffrey J. Kripal

A New World by Whitley Strieber

Bernhard & LightWing by Damien Rowse

The Mountains of Paris by David Oates

Trust Truth by Trudie Barreras

How to be an Excellent Human Being by Bill Meacham

The Deviant's War by Eric Cervini

What Is the Grass by Mark Doty

Sex with God by Suzanne DeWitt Hall

The Sum of All the Pieces by Paul Bradford

All the Time in the World by J. Lee Graham

Jonas and the Mountain by Janis Harper

Two Hearts Dancing by Eli Andrew Ramer

Where's My Pizza? by Larry Armstead II

A New Now by Michael Goddart

Heavenly Homos, Etc by Jan Haen

The Erotic Contemplative by Michael Bernard Kelly

Our Time by Chuck Forester

Queer God de Amor by Miguel H. Diaz

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

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

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

Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness

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


Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance

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

The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here

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

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

Finding God
Finding God In The Sexual Underworld: The Journey Expanded

2020 Revised Version

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.

rainbow line

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

Queering the Mysticism of
Saint John of the Cross

Our Time

Queer God de Amor

by Miguel H. Díaz

Fordham University Press; 1st edition (September 13, 2022)

160 pages, paperback, $25.95

ISBN: ‎ 978-1531502485

Available from Amazon in print and digital

Queer God de Amor

5 stars


Queer God de Amor
explores the mystery of God and the relationship between divine and human persons. It does so by turning to the sixteenth-century writings of John of the Cross on mystical union with God and the metaphor of sexual relationship that he uses to describe this union. Juan’s mystical theology, which highlights the notion of God as lover and God’s erotic-like relationship with human persons, provides a fitting source for rethinking the Christian doctrine of God, in John’s own words, as “un no sé qué,” “an I know not what.”

In critical conversations with contemporary queer theologies, it retrieves from John a preferential option for human sexuality as an experience in daily life that is rich with possibilities for re-sourcing and imagining the Christian doctrine of God. Consistent with other liberating perspectives, it outs God from heteronormative closets and restores human sexuality as a resource for theology. This outing of divine queerness―that is, the ineffability of divine life―helps to align reflections on the mystery of God with the faith experiences of queer Catholics. By engaging Juan de la Cruz through queer Latinx eyes, Miguel Díaz continues the objective of this series to disrupt the cartography of theology latinamente.

"This creative and stimulating exploration of San Juan de la Cruz's ‘Living Flame of Love’ will help the reader re-imagine the possible intimacy of God, self, and sexuality. Building on San Juan’s awareness of erotic experience as a potential opening to the divine, Díaz highlights how queer, Latiná, and Catholic approaches to the mystery of sexual love might lead us into deeper relationship with our Queer God de Amor."
—Brian Flanagan, President, College Theology Society

With this intensely scholarly and profoundly personal book Miguel Díaz has set a radical trajectory for a fresh grace-filled flowering of our understanding of God and the divine gift of sexuality, capable of consigning to history the damage inflicted by centuries of brutal legalism, sin, and shame. His fresh interpretations of the mystical and sensual writings of John of the Cross offer reassurance to those who believe in an omnisexual God who embraces all, is always and ever, the lover and beloved of all.
—Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, author, Quo Vadis? Collegiality in Canon Law


For traditional Catholics, the unusually erotic imagery in the poetry of St John of the Cross is confusing. It must be symbolic and fantastical because John was a Carmelite monk with a vow of chastity, and so couldn't possibly have been sexual; he must have meant those words in a purely poetic way, and he couldn't have actually been talking about sex, he must have been talking about deep emotional bonds with God, like the emotional bonds in marriage. And when he wrote about his love for Jesus, as though it were sexual, he is poetically imagining himself as a woman. He wrote in Spanish which is a gender-inflected language.

Now Miguel H. Díaz, the John Courtney Murray, SJ, University Chair in Public Service at Loyola University Chicago, who served under President Barack Obama as the ninth U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, and himself a queer-identified man, seriously addresses the sexual imagery and discovers that St. John was, in the modern sense, queering God, i.e., overturning the sexual negativity in Christianity and honoring sexual, erotic feelings as meaningful analogues to the spiritual feelings of love of God.

Díaz first places his understanding of sexual feelings within the interrelational nature of the Trinity and explains how to understand the Trinity as God's self-communication and demonstrating that both divine and human persons are ecstatic and relational beings. Love—both divine and human—is about union with Christ as the beloved spouse, and "in union with Christ persons come to 'know' God, all that is not God, and all things in God."

This book is an important contribution to Catholic spirituality—if only because it takes the homosexual imagery seriously and honors queer sex as another acceptable and authentic model of God's love. The book is written by an official Catholic theologian. His words demand to be respected by other Catholic theologians. His interpretations of Catholic mystical theology allow for what we now would call homosexual/gay/queer feelings as potentially sacred and spiritual. Thus, he reclaims queer love as sacred and honorable. And he understands John's most famous idea—"the dark night of the soul"—as LGBTQ people's struggle to refind their religiousness after being alienated by the anti-gay forces in conventional Christianity. For Díaz, the rich emotional sentiments of LGBTQ people's love for their partners gives insight into their love for God. The experience of merging with your lover during sex is a metaphor for how the soul experiences merging with God in prayer and mystical ecstasy.

Reconciling Catholic doctrine and mystical experience is always a bit of a stretch. According to doctrine, God and creation are of totally different substances. Except maybe in what is called hypostatic union in Jesus, God and man can never combine; they are like apples and oranges at the level of metaphysics. But the experience of mystics—and of psychedelic voyagers—is that one becomes God, that the distinction between God and man disappears as God is realized to be the witness Self, the one who is always experiencing Itself as us.

With the metaphor of lovers merging in sexual union, the two people DO remain separate people; sex doesn't actually merge anybody. Tho' metaphorically, of course, that is what the offspring which intercourse produces is. And at the level of DNA this is true.

In the poem, "On a Dark Night," the lover and beloved are said to be united in the darkness—the unknowability:
Oh night, that was my guide
Oh night, more loving than the rising sun
Oh night, that joined the lover to the beloved one
Transforming each of them into the other.
I think what John is alluding to is the mystical insight that the man he is making love with—any man—IS Christ. That is what Jesus meant when he said: "what you do to the least, that you do to me." The great mystical insight is that God and man are One from the very start. In Hinduism: Tat tvam asi, Thou art That, Atman is Brahman, the Self is God. But that's not Christian doctrine and it ignores the fundamental myth of original sin.

There is another major theme in this book which I am not discussing at all, and that's "Doing Theology Latinatamenta."
This book is part of a series, called Disruptive Cartographers, which seek to acknowledge the roots and perspectives of Latinx and Hispanic cultures and contexts.

John of the Cross lived in al-Andalus, Andalusia— Islamic- influenced Spain—and wrote in Spanish.
This context was different from that of British ladies, like Evelyn Underhill who helped popularize Christian mysticism in the 50s, or "Oxford dons," like E. Allison Peers who did one of the major translations of John of the Cross's work.

Jesus of Juan de la Cruz
Díaz seeks to recontextual the saint as a flesh and blood Iberian man.

(The artwork for the cover, "Yolitzli" by Jesus CIMI Alvarado, is a self-portrait of the artist within his complex Chicanx culture bearing the Sacred Heart of Jesus.)

Good to have a Catholic theologian (who hasn't been burned at the stake) find the goodness in LGBTQ love: Our longing for a loving partner is a taste of our longing for oneness with God.

For Catholics to whom Church approbation is important, this book breaks from the past and gives a new way to understand homosexual feelings.

This is a good book that needs to be read. It is a big step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there's a lot of queering still to do. And there are other—less orthodox—spiritual writers (this reviewer included) who have found a much more mystical, and queerer, message in John of the Cross. Googling "St John of the Cross, gay" brings up a variety of websites—including Kitt Cherry's Qspirit.net—and articles, like mine, that outright call St. John gay, and explain the sexual imagery in the poems not just as disembodied imagery but as real physical sex, and offer techniques for experiencing the sacred life of God within sexual arousal and lovemaking. Gay/queer love is the love of equals—as Will Roscoe explains in Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-sex Love. It's that equality of lovers that is the mystical experience
"that joins the lover to the beloved one/ Transforming each of them into the other." This is also what jars with Catholic doctrine.

Miguel Díaz never looks beyond orthodox Catholicism; he doesn't identify sexual arousal with the awakening of the "life force"—kundalini—as in Hindu/Buddhist mythology or chi in Taoism. He doesn't discuss whether St John's mystical ecstasy included orgasm or whether during orgasm humans might experience oneness with God. He "queers" God without questioning if that necessarily redefines God entirely. He honors queer love as sacred without moving to the next step—which I think is what the poem "On A Dark Night" is actually about—that our making love with our beloved IS our experience of loving God and God loving us back.

And, by the way, Díaz never mentions Thomas Merton, the popular Catholic writer/Trappist monk whose autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain and book The Ascent to Truth were the introduction of St. John of the Cross to American Catholics in the 1950s. Merton seemed to emphasize the "suffering" and "darkness" in John's writing more than the ecstatic joyful love. (See below for quotes from John of the Cross) It was in that context that I, as a devout Catholic high school kid in the early 1960s, discovered John of the Cross and got way too deep into the
mortification, self-sacrifice, self-denial, and self-effacement (i.e., religious shame for being human) —that Catholic doctrine took way too deep for everybody!

(But these are not entirely bad traits, especially in a world that lionizes sociopaths—and perhaps they are even "naturally gay" traits, founded in generosity, compassion, and goodwill to others.)

Another theme in John of the Cross is the notion of "nothingness"; God is beyond words and ideas altogether. This is a mystical idea in Christianity that is contradictory to the popular devotion to Jesus as cosmic friend and personal savior. The experience of God is an experience of nothing. "Nothing, nothing, nothing, even on the Mount, nothing," says St. John. Díaz acknowldges this theme in
rethinking the Christian doctrine of God, in John’s own words, as “un no sé qué,” “an I know not what.”

The "nothingness," "emptiness," "unknowing" of apophatic mysticism (i.e., without words) is paralleled in Buddhism as sunyata. This is more a Buddhist notion than a Christian one: Anatta, "no-self," is one of the pearls of the Dharma: "nothing above, nothing below, not one square inch on which to stand."

Maybe it is too much to say that John of the Cross was a gay Buddhist, but you know…

Queer God de Amor is a wonderful book—and quite readable and interesting in spite of the obscurity of its main subject. It is an important first step, an opening up of Catholic spiritual theology. And it is just a first step.

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Finding God in the Sexual Underworld, and other books and novels.

Read Toby Johnson's Saint John of the Cross and the Dark Night

Quotes from John of the Cross

Here are some heavy-duty verses from The Ascent of Mount Carmel

Strive always to prefer, not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult;

    Not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasing;
    Not that which gives most pleasure, but rather that which gives least;
    Not that which is restful, but that which is wearisome;
    Not that which is consolation, but rather that which is disconsolateness;
    Not that which is greatest, but that which is least;
    Not that which is loftiest and most precious, but that which is lowest and most despised;
    Not that which is a desire for anything, but that which is a desire for nothing;
    Strive to go about seeking not the best of temporal things, but the worst.
    Strive thus to desire to enter into complete detachment and emptiness and poverty, with respect to everything that is in the world, for Christ's sake.

Here's John talking about his paradoxical method:
    In order to arrive at having pleasure in everything, Desire to have pleasure in nothing.
    In order to arrive at possessing everything, Desire to possess nothing.
    In order to arrive at being everything, Desire to be nothing.
    In order to arrive at knowing everything, Desire to know nothing.
    In order to arrive at that wherein thou hast no pleasure, Thou must go by a way wherein thou hast no pleasure.
    In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not, Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not.
    In order to arrive at that which thou possessest not, Thou must go by a way that thou possessest not.
    In order to arrive at that which thou art not, Thou must go through that which thou art not.

When thy mind dwells upon anything, Thou art ceasing to cast thyself upon the All. For, in order to pass from the all to the All, Thou hast to deny thyself wholly in all. And, when thou comest to possess it wholly, Thou must possess it without desiring anything. For, if thou wilt have anything in having all, Thou hast not thy treasure purely in God.

rainbow line

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.

 back to top

BACK to Toby's home page

valid html

Essential SSL