Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
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
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
I want to propose an explanation for homophobia in human beings. Why do the majority of (straight/heterosexual) people have negative opinions of a sexual minority (gay/homosexual -- and all the alphabet that can go with that)? The answer is in the word "sexual."
I think the answer has to do with psycho-development stages in sexual maturation.
Boys start out sexually aware of our own bodies, and our first sexual arousal is about ourselves and our being able to experience pleasure. (Of course, this is often very confusing and conflicted because nobody explains it properly and the religious people tell us we are sinning by experiencing the pleasure--but "Catholic guilt" is another issue.) There is obviously a kind of "homosexual" quality to self-arousal.
Boys also develop intense friendships with other boys during this period as part of identifying as male and developing a sense of personal ego that is aware of other people's responses to us. So we form these intense (non-sexual, for the most part) relationships.
Then a little while after puberty, straight boys begin to experience sexual arousal from seeing females--and the process of sexual awareness begins.
In that process, the straight boys have to shift their sexual arousal from their own (male) bodies to the bodies of females. And they have to shift their intense friendships from other boys to girls.
Part of doing that is distinguishing between the intense friendships with other boys and sexual attractions and crushes on girls. And the distinction is sexual.
So the sexual side of intense friendships with other boys and the personal arousal by one's own body have to be supplanted in the interests of sexual maturation.
I think that process of supplanting/suppression results in the thought "I am not a girl," and that leads to "I am not homosexual." That's the start of homophobia.
I think that the experience of “homophobia”— i.e., that homosexual acts seem icky—is a built-in psychodynamic to force males to perform as males and to think of themselves as not-female. We all start female. Masculinization is something that happens over time. It happens biologically during gestation; it happens psychologically beginning with puberty. Young men are often compulsively driven to prove their “masculinity”—football and getting concussions is a good example we’re seeing in the news these days. “A real man” doesn’t get hurt.
For gay boys the process works very differently. There is a smooth transition from arousal for one's own body to arousal for the bodies of the boys one has formed these intense friendships with. There'e no moment of turning away from the boys to the girls.
On the other hand, of course, the gay boys likely experience rejection by their straight boy friends. And so there starts the internalizing of homophobia in them.
There's yet another level of this that has to do with toilet training and awareness of one's anus and confusion about feeling pleasure around defecation.
Much of straight male homophobia, I think, has to do with fear of being anally penetrated -- rather than fear of feeling intense feelings for one's friends. It isn't so much homosexual love that the straight men fear as homosexual sex which is understood to mean being anally penetrated, because genital penetration is how straight men have sex with women.
This is, after all, what the Biblical injunction seems to be about: you shall not have sex with a man the way a man has sex with a woman.
Actually, of course, what that rule can be interpreted to say is that when you have sex with another man, you shouldn't treat him the way you'd treat a woman. This was a rule in a very primitive and violent culture in which women were treated as chattel. So you were supposed to treat other men as equals. (And you weren't supposed to fuck the vanquished in battle because that kind of male warrior behavior was just dishonorable.)
The worst victims of homophobia, oddly enough, are straight men who get strait-jacked into a set of rules about seeming masculine. One of the ongoing cultural jokes is about the man sitting forlorn on the side of the bed while a woman assures him that "that can happen to anybody"; too often what he is anxious about is the possibility that his momentary impotence is a sign of homosexuality. (Though that doesn't make any sense, does it?)
Perhaps the real issue involved in all this is human beings feeling comfortable in their bodies and positive about the wonderful possibilities offered by having physical bodies with organs of pleasure. We should rejoice in our incarnation and experience our pleasure as a positive thing. Our bliss--at the level of orgasmic pleasure AND deep interpersonal love and affection--creates gift waves into the spirit plane.
There's more on this topic: See
Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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