Charmed Lives

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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


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

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

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

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

     Charmed Lives was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award 
in the category Anthology.

Kip & Toby at Lammies 2007Lambda Literary Award Nominee Seal

Kip Dollar & Toby Johnson attended the Gala Lambda Literary Awards Presentation in NYC, May 31, 2007. Toby's
anthology CHARMED LIVES, co-edited by Steve Berman, was nominated for Best Anthology. The award went to the very deserving Love, Bourbon Street, edited by Herren & Willis.

harmed Lives:
Gay Spirit In Storytelling     

An Anthology from White Crane Books, edited by Toby Johnson & Steve Berman
Editor Toby Johnson, author of GAY SPIRITUALTY, has collected an anthology for White Crane Books of  inspirational fiction with upbeat twists and turns as well as autobiographical anecdotes and essays of  positive and life-fulfilling aspects of gay experience.

See Table of Contents                 Read Reviews & Articles about Charmed Lives

charmed lives

We're presenting stories that demonstrate the proposition that "Gay life is charmed" -- with "charm" having a rich variety of meanings.
Spinning Straw into Gold

odern society, including--and maybe especially-- gay culture recreates its own mythological traditions in "the old-fashioned way," by telling stories.

Gay storytelling engender myths, allowing the negative elements that traditional society and religion has placed on homosexual identity to be transformed and uplifted.

White Crane Books, an imprint of Lethe Press (Steve Berman, editor/publisher), announces an anthology of writings that do what good myths and storytelling are supposed to do: inspire and evoke meaning (especially out of despondency and darkness), to cheer, to place life in larger context, to hint at secret meanings--stories that inspire gay men to think positively about themselves, their lifestyles, their bodies (of any type), and, especially, their own spiritual paths.
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Pay through Amazon Payments.

Digital edition priced at $7.99

here's a popular stereotype that homosexuality is a terrible curse and source of sorrow and suffering. Many of us have actually "suffered" from that stereotype; many of us have also transformed our attitudes about our aberrant sexual orientation and discovered our sexuality can bestow great joy, talent, success, love, and good fortune.

Notice the layers of meaning in the word "charmed." There's a suggestion of "magick" and "destiny/good karma" -- but also simple usage as good luck and happiness. There's much to be grateful for in being gay. "Charm" also suggests urbanity and good taste. AND "charm" is a mysterious quality of quarks!

Editor Toby Johnson, author of GAY SPIRITUALTY has collected inspirational fiction with upbeat twists and turns along with autobiographical anecdotes and essays of  positive and life-fulfilling aspects of gay experience and faith* .

We're especially featuring fiction and literary short stories with a "Twilight Zone" or O. Henry sort of twist-- a little magic, a little sci-fi,  a little romantic synchronicity. Such "twists" move the meaning of the story into the mythical. That is, after all, how the stories of religion have come down to us: by adding mystical, magical, miraculous details to the story the spiritual/moral wisdom is given eternal verity.

In the realm of personal anecdote, we're presenting stories that demonstrate how people's lives have been "charmed" because they're gay.

Storytelling is one of the traditional ways values and "spirit" are passed from one generation to the next.**

Let’s tell each other what a long straw we’ve drawn in this life because we’re gay.

*Through our "faith" we have been saved. And we can save others from suffering by telling our positive stories. "Faith" means different things to different people.  There is, of course, "faith" in a high power or deity, but gay men have also learned "faith" in friendship and in their own cultural accomplishments that have mattered to the community. The important attribute of the "faith" referenced in Charmed Lives is that it inspires others.

Share what you have "faith" in as a happy and successful homosexual. Tell us how your gayness has enriched your life and allowed you to contribute to the world. Spin us a story of transformation.


** Mythical / magical stories have a way of placing their lesson in the realm of
"eternal verities." Some of the old Twilight Zone stories (like the beautiful woman who thinks she's ugly because she's been transported into another dimension in which the criteria of beauty have been turned upside down) remain in collective memory long after their day. Religious stories are like this. The great myths--which claim veracity because of supernatural happenings (like Moses opening the Red Sea or Jesus healing the lepers)--are always about the deep dynamics of consciousness.

Sci-fi and speculative fiction is one of the ways modern day writers declare that
the lessons of their stories carry greater truth than just the dramatic plot, that they are about generalizable patterns that give meaning and direction to life.whimsical cover

The intervention of fate and karma in human lives reveals a deep, "mystical"
experience of those dynamics of consciousness.

Gayness is surely a "dynamic of consciousness." The positive, enlightened, enlightening side of gayness can properly be written about in mythic language.

This image of the gay boys raising the rainbow flag is only a whimical suggestion for a cover, but it captures the concept for the book: a  twist, a  re-creation of traditional imagery and myth with heroic gay meaning. This photo was created by photographer Ed Freeman for the cover of Frontiers Magazine, Los Angeles, in the mid-2000s.


Read Reviews & Articles about Charmed Lives

Here's the Table of Contents to tempt readers

Introduction: Straw into Gold     Toby Johnson   
Introduction: Straw is Neither Dross nor Gold  Steve Berman    
Ella, Kelly and Me…     Mark Abramson        

The Story Behind the Story     Perry Brass       

An Angel on the Threshold    Eric Andrews-Katz       

Shades    Bill Goodman       

The Canals of Mars    Victor J. Banis      

What Queer Spirit Sees    Jeffery Beam       

After Edward    Michael Gouda      

What Two Men Do In Bed    Bryn Marlow    

Great Uncle Ned    J.R.G. De Marco      

Beyond the Blue Bardo     Sterling Houston      

The Verse    Jay Michaelson     

My Last Visits With Harry     Bill Blackburn      

Reversing Vandalism      Jim Van Buskirk     

Grandfather’s Photograph     Neil Ellis Orts     

Gay Spirituality?     Will Gray    

“Charmed, I’m Sure”    Mark Thompson and Malcolm Boyd     

Viewing the Statue of David  Jim Toevs     

The True and Unknown Story of Albert Gale   Andrew Ramer     

Tom or An Improbable Tail   Ruth Sims     

Free Speech  Martin K. Smith     

This I Know  Dan Stone

Musuko Dojoji   Mark Horn     

A Path of Mirrors   Don Clark      

Lines  John McFarland     

Left with Love   Lewis DeSimone     

Get Thee Behind Me  Christos Tsirbas     

His Paper Doll  Steve Berman

Desiring St. Sebastian  Donald L. Boisvert  

Manifest Love  David Nimmons

Avalokiteshvara at The 21st Street Baths  Toby Johnson      

Neighborhood Walk  Steven A. Hoffman     

My Pride and Joy  Tyler Tone    

The Bell of St. Michael’s  Gary Craig     

So What is the Charm?  Bert Herrman     

And, finally   Michael Sigmann     

The Authors  

Contributor Sterling Houston died November 8, 2007, just a few weeks before Charmed Lives was released. Fellow Texas playwright Dennis Paddie wrote a beautiful tribute to Sterling which appeared in The Gay & Lesbian Review.


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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