Toby and Toby

The Two Tobys

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Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from, 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


Unpublished manuscripts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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"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


Historicity as Myth


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


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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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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

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

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.

Toby and Toby

from Toby Johnson's book GAY PERSPECTIVE:

While I was working as a psychiatric counselor in a gay mental health clinic in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, I met Harvard-trained political science and sociology scholar (and nicknamesake) Toby Marotta. 

After Joseph Campbell, Marotta--with his irrepressible enthusiasm for gay consciousness as the flower of modern countercultural thought and his own successful demonstration of revolution through consciousness change--has had the greatest influence on my intellectual life. (At one time, I mythologized Toby as my "Guardian Angel." See below.)

Together we launched ourselves into literary careers, beginning with the revision of Toby's massive Harvard doctoral dissertation on the rise of the modern gay and lesbian rights movement which was published as The Politics of Homosexuality: How Lesbians and Gay Men Have Made Themselves a Political and Social Force in Modern America.

We compiled a series of interviews with gay Harvard classmates of his that appeared in the book Sons of Harvard: Gay Men from the Class of 67.

AToby Marotta at Castro Station1980nd we worked together in a federally-funded study of gay hustlers and teen runaways, which I summarized in In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld.

I'd been a gay counselor and activist, but from Toby I learned the rich and complicated history of the movement. With him I began to understand my interest in religion and spirituality in the context of gay liberation.

The photo above is of Toby standing in the Castro Street Muni Station.
Toby dated the architect who designed the station, Howard Grant.

Toby Marotta and Howard Grant

Here's Howard and Toby. They were lovers and dear friends for 10 years. Howard and his former wife proofread the final version of Sons of Harvard.

Toby Marotta age 33

Here's Toby when Toby & Toby were working together on his books.  He was about 33 at that time.


Read about Toby Marotta's vision of positive, life-affirming gay culture

Read about The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance of Gay Mental Health workers in San Francisco in 1979:
a great example of successful community activism.

Read about the URSA study
Toby and Toby worked together in of
teenage boys involved in gay prostitution

Toby Marotta and I have both been called Toby since birth (for me, actually even before; it was my parents' nickname for me as a fetus). For both of us it's a nickname not based on our given names. We were born in 1945 almost exactly six months apart (185 days to be exact). Marotta in Massachusetts; me in Texas.

He was working in a city-sponsored study of social service agencies in downtown San Francisco; I was working in a mental health agency. AND I happened to be on intake at the front desk when he came in. We quickly discovered the parallels and coincidences in our lives. We got to be close friends and then started working together when I offered to help him proofread and prepare his dissertation for final submission. We made a sort of pact to help each other get our respective dissertations published.

We worked in a study together of teenage boys involved in gay prostitution in New York, San Francisco, and Boston primarily. We roamed around big cities at night talking to the boys about their lives. As a mental health clinician, I was focused on social service agencies and visited federally-funded runaway shelters to observe how they handled boys involved in gay hustling.

Between us, I came to be known as Toby Won and he was Toby Too. We were given these names by a client of mine named Harry Nivens who I counseled at the clinic during a suicidal period in Harry's life. So since he lived, he declared "Toby won." Later Harry met Toby Marotta--and worked with us in the hustler study for a while. So Marotta was Toby Too.


Toby Marotta


Toby Marotta

Library Thing about Toby too.

Toby Marotta is author of a small book called AIDS-Preventing Sexual Hygiene on sexual hygiene based, interestingly, in the cleanliness practices of Zorastrianism. The book is subtitled: "Complement Condom Use by Gargling, Douching, and Washing After Sex."

It's a terrible mistake, Marotta argues, to think there's nothing you can do if you make a mistake in judgment and get yourself into an act of unsafe sex. There are ways to wash afterwards (with a vinegar solution, for instance) that can be shown effective in reducing spread of microorganisms.

Toby also assembled a large collection of gay memorabilia--from political buttons to posters to books and various sorts of collectables.

sons of harvard

Read about Toby & Toby working together on Sons of Harvard — and the wonderful consequences that came from Toby Marotta's coming out in his 10th-year reunion class notes.
politics of homosexuality

Toby Marotta's books are available used.

Click on the links to read about how the books were written and to see how to order:

The Politics of Homosexuality


From Finding God in the Sexual Underworld

Toby [Marotta] was a kind of mirror for me, a manifestation by the universe of myself in the form of another—another with almost my own past and with my own name. In him I could see how my beliefs and values affected a life. I liked the example I saw. Toby became a confirmation of my efforts to live as I believed all should. As the weeks passed and we came to know one another better, often over mugs of beer after the drop-in group, I began to imagine Toby Marotta as a messenger from God, come to reassure me and lead me on my journey. Indeed, having been raised as a devout little Catholic boy believing in all the mythology of my religion, I whimsically and lovingly mythologized Toby as an incarnation of my "Guardian Angel."

In the Servite Order, which I’d joined toward the end of college, I’d taken Peregrine as a ritual name. It means “wanderer.” It had been the name of a Servite saint. A curious part of his legend, a part I did not learn until sometime after I’d begun to imagine Toby as my Guardian Angel, is that the 13th century Italian Saint Peregrine was said to have been given an angel for a companion. Though I left the Servites after three years, I kept my identity as Peregrine the wanderer, including, apparently, the angel guide.


We'd gone out one afternoon to a gay bar in the Haight with a name like The Garden. The decor was white lattice work with garlands of artificial flowers that looked like the remnants of a once-fancy wedding. We were having fun and laughing. We got up to dance.

(photos by Howard Grant)Toby Marotta by Howard Grant

As we danced around in that 70s free style, I was thinking about how wonderful it was that I'd met this neat guy from Harvard with all these ambitions of publishing, and who was inviting me to at least help him… and sort of to climb on his coattails. Toby seemed to be glowing in the vision. It was as though circles of light were spinning around him. I was struck by the realization that, at least at that moment, Toby Marotta was appearing as my Guardian Angel. Or maybe better my Guardian Angel was appearing as Toby Marotta and inviting me to follow him on our mutual hero quests.

We later wondered if they'd pumped something into the air--poppers or nitrous oxide. We both got quite euphoric. It was a wonderful and memorable moment.

I dedicated Finding God in the Sexual Underworld to Toby Too, "my sometimes guardian angel."

It was through his Harvard connections that we got connected with John Brockman, THE hotshot agent in New York at the time. Toby's college roommate's sister was married to Jim Landis, the Editor-in-Chief at William Morrow. Over a Thanksgiving dinner Toby had mentioned he was about to complete his PhD and was looking for a publisher. Jim Landis spoke up and said, "Bring it to me."

And we did. Landis told us we needed a good agent and introduced us to Brockman. It's much more complicated, but we ended up each getting a contract for two books. Toby really was the guide on my hero journey into the world of publishing.

Toby Marotta and I didn't pursue the collaboration beyond those two books of his and the two books of mine. (And mine were of a different genre entirely--Joseph Campbell and myth were very different from Toby's social science and fact-finding.)

It was through John Brockman that I became friends with Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe. Talbot was John Brockman's personal assistant and ghostwriter for the scientists the Brockman Agency represented.

I moved back to my hometown San Antonio where I seemed to be an expert on the gay political movement--because of what I had learned from Toby Marotta. I was head of the Gay Alliance for a while and was in private practice as "THE gay therapist" in town, then moved to Austin with my partner Kip and took over runnng the gay and lesbian community bookstore.

I kept writing and publishing with small gay presses. For a while I assisted Toby with his notes about his continuing research in the Tenderloin with URSA in parallel projects to the hustler study. He continued to reside in the hustler neighborhoods in his participant observer role. He did useful research on drug-use and, from interviewing hustlers and sexually active youth about their actual sexual behaviors, Toby was able to specify anal sex from top to bottom as the vector of transmission of HIV among gay men. This was long before public health officials acknowledged that it wasn’t just homosexuality itself that caused AIDS or that condoms could be an effective prophylactic. Toby tried unsuccessfully to alert the CDC and AIDS experts about his findings.

Toby's partner Rusty had been a geology professor at Harvard. He had a small private business on the side importing crystals and semi-precious stones to America. When Toby and Rusty lived in Oakland, the basement of the house was filled with shelves of "Crystals of India's" inventory. They had come to know Tucson, Arizona, because it is the site of the annual Crystals & Minerals Show, when "more than 65,000 guests from around the globe descend upon Tucson, to buy, sell, trade, and bear witness to rare and enchanting gems, minerals, and fossils at more than 40 gem show locations across the city."  They moved to that city in the desert in the 1990s. And then later, in the 2010s, moved to Ocean Beach, San Diego.

Toby and I had gone different directions by that time, though we kept in touch with birthday cards. I learned so much from him. He was more than just a friend and literary collaborator. He truly was a guide who showed me how to take the next big step into the unknown.


Toby Marotta age 78

Toby Marotta is back in Boston and retired from public life. Following an auto accident a few years ago in which he sustained serious injuries, he moved back to Massachusetts to be near home and his family and to take up residence in a retirement home very loosely associated with Harvard and his academic roots. (The photo shows him at age 78 in 2023.)

He still has that marvelous twinkle in his smile that endeared him to me so many years ago. I am grateful to his sister-in-law, Terry Marotta, herself an accomplished author and storyteller and Public Radio star, for keeping me apprised of the twists and turns of Toby Too's life journey.

Terry shared a lovely story with me. She wrote about her daughter Carrie.

Carrie and Toby"Carrie had been with me when I visited Toby in San Francisco in 1978. She was a little over a year old then. One afternoon she had had a nap in his place in the Tenderloin, as I happily looked out the window and took some moments to myself.

"Fifteen years later in 1993, when Carrie was looking at Stanford, we visited him again and he pulled out a diaper pin and said to her, “Look! you left this with me by mistake!” It was so touching to see that he had saved it all that time.

"On that same visit he gestured to his many important papers and said to her “This is all for you; this is my legacy.” The LGBTQI library at Harvard will be receiving all of his papers. Just in the last few months, Carrie and David [Terry's husband, Toby's brother] arranged 62 boxes’ worth of them to be shipped to Cambridge. The library is absolutely thrilled to have them."

Toby's legacy lives on.


About the nature of mythology and religion, Joseph Campbell says:

Briefly formulated, the universal doctrine teaches that all the visible structures of the world--all things and beings--are the effects of a ubiquitous power out of which they rise, which supports and fills them during the period of their manifestation, and back into which they must ultimately dissolve.

The Fool
The Guardian Angel mythology from my Catholic childhood is about being guided and guarded by that "ubiquitous power" which is the unmanifest Absolute, consciousness before manifestation, which fills us and guides us. 
In the Tarot deck this power appear as The Fool. The card shows the trusting innocent about to take his first step.

This deepest consciousness is who we really are, and it manifests itself to us as our lives. Toby Marotta was my guide—in the very best sense, my Fool—who showed me how to take that next step, and who then, for me, dissolved back into the Absolute.

BACK to Toby Johnson's home page


To preserve the bio that Toby Marotta posted to Library Thing in April 2011, I am pasting it here:

After romping through the Medford Public School System I attended Harvard College and enrolled in its newly renamed Kennedy School of Government. "Alternate service" allowed me to teach in ghetto high schools in Philadelphia and Boston instead of going to Vietnam.

Upon returning to Harvard I worked as a teaching fellow with its leading neo-conservative professors before writing my Ph.D. dissertation, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1981 as "The Politics of Homosexuality."

Its follow-up, "Sons of Harvard: Gay Men from the Class of 1967," personified my embrace of the radical injunction to make matters personal political. So did the formalization of my partnership with Rustam Kothavala, whom I had met when I was an undergraduate resident of Lowell House and he was the iconoclastic Professor of Geology who became its Senior Tutor.

In 1975, Rusty and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and bought a house in the Berkeley flats. While he started Crystals of India, a business that occasionally permitted me to join his mineral-collecting expeditions on the Indian subcontinent, I pursued our interest in GLBT community-building by doing ethnographic research among "runaway and homeless youth" in the Tenderloin and Polk Gulch areas of San Francisco.

My next official sponsors were a nonprofit consulting group named URSA and then a respected twin called the Institute for Scientific Analysis. Both specialized in obtaining federal grants to conduct city-related research and training projects funded by the federal government.

At the start of the 1980s, with the American surfacing of the deadly epidemic that went from being called GRID, for Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, to AIDS, for Acquired Immunde Deficiency Syndrome, my ethnographic research reports led to a visit from epidemiologists affiliated with the U.S. Centers of Disease Control.

From the get-go I had been privately and then publicly critiquing their initial approach to Prevention, the term they soon added to their official name, for failing to emphasize prevention via post-sex hygiene.

In 1987, Dan Waldorf, a veteran substance-abuse researcher based in San Francisco and Alameda, hired me to run the Castro field office we rented for the purpose of conducting interviews and presiding over ethnographic research funded by National Institutes of Health to flesh out links between methamphetamine use and "unsafe sex."

Slowly but surely I became convinced that the simple alternatives for AIDS and STI prevention that U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop advocated and institutionalized -- either abstinence or condom use -- were too remote from the realities of loved-based and underclass intimacies to be practical all the time for everyone.

The third federally funded research project I worked on required me to spend a year conducting week-long strings of in-depth interviews with politicized local adolescents who had been diagnosed with AIDS.

In public they echoed the official mantra of abstinence or condom use. In private, I soon discovered,they abandoned so-defined "safe sex" whenever they got involved with a loving partner.

What they needed was an approach to infection-prevention that could be practiced AFTER they had demonstrated and shared in the un-self-protecting ways they felt were truly loving.

I soon became convinced that in the absence of an effective vaccine, viable AIDS-prevention efforts required discovering and publicizing effective STD and HIV prevention measures that could be taken AFTER people had demonstrated their trust by "making love," which in this case they understood and experienced to mean without donning and insisting upon "protection" before "making love."

Moving to Tucson, Arizona, where Andrew Weil was incorporating holistic healthcare and integrative medicine into the medical school at the University of Arizona, supplied me with a supportive context for adding post-sex hygiene to the existing official options (either abstinence or condom use) for STI and AIDS prevention.

My Web-facilitated research into traditional nostrums and foreign customs for sex-related health, which contemporary American medical experts and their worldly counterparts came to call "alternative" and "complementary" medicine, revealed that early 20th-Century American and European efforts to prevent the spread of syphilis and gonorrhea relied on post-sex washing.

This well-documented and written about history helped me to zero in on the potential of post-sex washing to help prevent the spread of HIV infections and AIDS.

Using Internet/Web-based search engines permitted me to buttress my case in academic fashion by tracking down and writing about the handful of widely overlooked medical journal articles reporting on scientific studies that had found and documented that washing involved body parts after fluid-exchanging sexual intercourse was an effective way to squelch or at least greatly reduce the risk of getting and spreading sexually transmitted infections including HIV infections.

For this opportunity to publicly explain and document my multifaceted case for post-sex hygiene by citing and sometimes commenting on a handful of authoritative books that do the same thing I am grateful to

Here is the extensive bio Toby wrote for Author Central.


 Toby Marotta


 Here I am, 34 years after producing "The Politics of Homosexuality" (Houghton Mifflin, 1981), a popularized version of my Harvard Ph.D. thesis. Next came "Sons of Harvard: Gay Men from the Class of 1967" (William Morrow, 1982), my personification of its major themes.

 Professors Nathan Glazer and Martha Derthick, then leading national scholars in the fields of ethnic studies and urban politics, oversaw the study of original documents and the face-to-face interviewing I did to research the first book.

 Toby Johnson, whom I had gotten to know in San Francisco during the 1970s, when he was working as a therapist at its Tenderloin Clinic while I was co-directing the Tenderloin Ethnographic Research Project for nearby Central City Hospitality House, supplied the multifaceted support I needed to produce both of these books in tandem.

 I, in turn, helped him produce his own first two books, "The Myth of the Great Secret" and "In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld," both published by William Morrow.

 Jonathan Galassi, then a young editor at Houghton Mifflin, helped me transform my Ph.D. thesis into an authoritative book bearing the same name. Today, I'm proud to say, he is a senior editor at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux who has also just produced an enthralling novel named "Muse" and a book of his own poetry titled "Left-Handed," both published by Knopf.

Roots of Pride

 My "Politics of Homosexuality" begins by chronicling the self-styled "homophile" drive for civil rights and social status that began early in the 1950s when a handful of bold bisexual and homosexual men in Southern California organized the Mattachine Society and several bold lesbians in San Francisco started the Daughters of Bilitis. Chapters of these groundbreaking groups were started in other big American cities and they soon opted to incorporate as independent non-profit organizations.

 Then came the so-called Stonewall Riots, which erupted in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan at the very end of June and start of July in 1969 thanks to a handful of young Baby Boomers with self-styled counter-cultural worldviews and New Left political outlooks. These efforts rapidly produced an unprecedented, multifaceted, American drive for GLBT -- their shorthand for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender -- liberation and community.

 "Roots of Pride and Power," which I am preparing for publication to help set the stage for Stonewall 50 June of 2019, is a narrative history of these developments, both more personal and more colorful than my "Politics of Homosexuality."

 It, too, begins by surveying the two decades of homophile educational and lobbying efforts initially inspired and shaped by "The Homosexual in America." This introduction to what was then the taboo subject of homosexuality was composed by Professor Edward Sagarin of New York University, who published it using the pseudonym Donald Webster Cory.

 My prospective "Roots of Pride and Power" concentrates on showing how this then 20-year-old, big city-based, self-styled homophile movement was supplanted by a proliferation of self-styled liberation groups in the wake of "Stonewall."

 First came the Gay Liberation Front and its initial spin-off, Radicalesbians, also started by Baby Boomers radicalized by the crude ways in which local police officers had responded to their picketing of the Mafia-run Stonewall Inn. Then came a handful of successive spin-offs, most notably, Gay Youth, STAR, short for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, GAA, short for Gay Activists Alliance, and the ad hoc representative committee that organized the first annual Christopher Street Liberation Day march and Gay-In in Central Park held in June of 1970.

 In the rest of this synopsis, I describe each of these groundbreaking developments in a bit more detail. Then I use a brief concluding section to explain the 1981 arrival of GRID, short for Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, soon to be renamed AIDS, for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Initially an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections that tended to be fatal, AIDS engendered both genuine heroism in and widespread personal, professional, and public support for what had begun as a small, homespun drive for social status and civil rights.

Homophile Initiative

 "Roots of Pride" begins by showing how small, Manhattan-based chapters of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, self-styled "homophile groups" that were organized in the early 1950s by a handful of bold gay and bisexual men and women in Southern and Northern California, evolved during the next two decades into independent, professional, non-profit organizations.

 As legally incorporated civil rights groups, so-called MSNY and DOB-New York devoted themselves to educating sympathetic professionals and helping sympathetic lawyers pursue litigation that would secure the rights and boost the status of homosexual and bisexual men and women.

 On July 4, 1965, led primarily by Frank Kameny, organizer of the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C., and Barbara Gittings, head of the DOB chapter in Philadelphia, members of the chapters of these homophile groups based in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. personified their pursuit of civil rights and social status by conducting an annual, orderly, sign-pumping, Fourth-of-July picket line at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

 All of the men were required to wear suits and ties. All of the women were instructed to appear in business suits or dresses.

 During the last half of the 1960s, these "Annual Reminders" became the most public face of a nation-spanning "homophile movement" committed both to educating the public about the similarities between homosexuals and heterosexuals and to lobbying state and local governments for related non-discrimination measures.

 Then, at the very end of June in 1969, came "Stonewall," engendered by self-styled counter-cultural and New Left homosexuals based in Greenwich Village who insisted on being called gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered as they went about supplanting this staid homophile pursuit of rights, status, and respectability with an insistent, demonstrative, and self-styled counter-cultural drive for personal and political liberation.

Unprecedented American Liberation Movement

 Just before midnight on Friday, June 27, 1969, officers from the Public Morals Division of the New York City Police Department raided and closed the Stonewall Inn, a gay dance bar located near the corner of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village.

 "The Stonewall," as its patrons called it, was owned and run by affiliates of the local Mafia who bribed local public officials and presiding police officers to keep it from being closed down for disregarding the state laws and city ordinances that had been passed to prevent local public facilities from accommodating so-called deviants.

 A dimly lit dance bar, the Stonewall Inn was favored by young gay men and male transvestites who led what were then called "counter-cultural" lifestyles. Commonly referred to as hippies and drag queens, they grew their hair long, wore colorful tie-dyed T-shirts they made themselves, openly smoked marijuana, occasionally "tripped" on L.S.D., and derided disapproving "straight" critics they called members of "The Establishment."

 In the wee hours of this historic Friday night, after patrolmen from the local "vice squad" had barged into the Stonewall Inn, announced they were closing it, and ordered all of its patrons to leave, many of these angry, ousted, counter-cultural gay and transvestite men gathered right across the street in the tiny island of a park named Sheridan Square.

 According to the belittling account featured in the next issue of the weekly "Village Voice," then the most liberal weekly newspaper in Manhattan, "The stars were in their element. Wrists were limp, hair was primped, and reactions to the applause were classic. 'I gave them the gay power bit, and they loved it, girls'."

 When a siren-screaming police van arrived, this article explained, "Three of the more blatant queens -- in full drag -- were loaded inside, along with the bartender and doorman, to a chorus of catcalls and boos from the crowd...The next person to come out was a dyke, and she put up a struggle...."

 A year earlier, Craig Rodwell, just 20 years old, had opened his nearby Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, billed as a groundbreaking gay bookstore. Tonight, after encountering this police raid on his way home from a night of bar-hopping in the Village, Craig sized up what was going on and began loudly to chant "Gay power! Gay power! Gay power!"

 Martha "Shelley" -- this last name the literary pseudonym she used when representing the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the Mattachine Society's lesbian counterpart -- happened to encounter her old friend Craig at the end of her own night of bar-hopping in the Village, and she immediately joined in his chanting.

 Then suddenly, with its siren screaming and its red lights flashing, a police car pulled up, and a pair of officers jumped out and began to help the patrolmen who were trying to squelch this impromptu protest disruption.

 Both Craig and Martha disappeared into the darkness. But only for 24 hours.

Start of Community-Organizing

 Early the next morning, now determined to publicize the previous night's police raid for the purposes of community-organizing, Craig Rodwell drew up and duplicated a flier headlined "Get the Mafia and Cops Out of Gay Bars."

 Its text urged that "homosexual men and women boycott places like the Stonewall." And it called on "gay businessmen to open legal gay bars with competitive pricing and a healthy social atmosphere."

 With the help of his lover at this time, Fred Sargeant, who as a boy had posed for the illustrations of "Dick" in grammar-school readers featuring Dick and Jane, Craig tacked copies of this flier onto every telephone pole and notice board in and around Sheridan Square. Then he and Fred stationed themselves in front of the Stonewall Inn and thrust copies of it into the hands of receptive passers-by.

 Soon they were joined by their friend Martha "Shelley." And as more early-bird recruits followed their lead, this impromptu picket line grew louder, bolder, rowdier.

 It wasn't long before the owner of the Stonewall Inn burst through its front door and threatened to call the police. When Craig, Fred, Martha, and their handful of recruits ignored him, he went back inside and did so.

 Minutes later, with its siren screaming and red lights flashing, a police van pulled up. A pair of officers jumped out, dragged Craig into its rear holding cell, and ordered the others to go home.

 Upon arriving back at their precinct headquarters, these officers hustled Craig inside and took turns mocking, taunting, and poking him. Then they hustled him back outdoors, shoved him down the stairs, and slammed their door shut.

 A few days later, early in the morning of July 4th, 1969, Craig and Martha took a bus down to Philadelphia for this year's homophile-group Annual Reminder. They followed its dress protocol: suits and ties, or dresses and heels. But they abandoned the protocol of single-file circling and personified their quest for liberation by coupling up and marching hand-in-hand.

Groundbreaking Gay Liberation Front

 As soon as Craig Rodwell was back in Greenwich Village, he began transforming his humble Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop into a rebel headquarters.

 After telling each of his regular customers about how the police had mistreated him and his partner, he urged them to spread the word.

 Sympathetic listeners and helpful allies he rewarded with discounts on book purchases and complimentary slogan- and symbol-bearing pin-back buttons that he had designed and had made.

 Thanks to this Baby-Boomer generation's heated opposition to the ongoing American war in Vietnam at this time, several of his recruits were already active in local chapters of New Left anti-war groups.

 All of them had come to believe that community-organizing was the most viable way to acquire influence and assert power.

 At the first of the "community meetings" that Craig arranged to hold at a supportive nearby church, it was agreed that telling fellow travelers about "Stonewall" was the best way to muster and motivate new recruits.

 This ad hoc assemblage voted to call themselves a Gay Liberation Front -- GLF for short. And with the help of brightly colored, slogan and symbol-bearing, pin-back buttons that Craig designed and had made to tout GLF, they assembled the core of a snowballing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender -- GLBT for short -- Liberation Movement.

Specializing Offshoots

 At GLF's weekly community meetings, called "unstructured," there were neither officers nor ground-rules. Everyone was free to propose initiatives and to express opinions.

 Self-styled GLFers proceeded to band together and operate as a dozen different caucuses.

 One was in charge of writing and editing articles for, mimeographing, and circulating a weekly newsletter. Another produced, printed, and distributed a thin biweekly newspaper named "Come Out!"

 Self-styled lesbian feminists soon opted to break away and operate independently as Radicalesbians.

 A handful of street transvestites dubbed themselves and began meeting on their own as STAR, for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

 Six months later, as 1969 drew to a close, several gay-identified men who were recent college graduates informed their peers that they were fed up with the long harangues, heated arguments, and ensuing chaos they blamed on GLF's "structurelessness."

 After caucusing on their own for a few weeks, they launched a reform-oriented, constitutionally structured, alternative, named the Gay Activists Alliance and dubbed G.A.A.

 Snide GLFers, alluding to its relative conservatism, called it Gay squared.

First Annual Pride Events

 Come June of 1970, as this first year of community-organizing drew to a close, GLF was best known for its in-your-face activism in pursuit of GLBT -- for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender -- liberation.

 Radicalesbians were billing themselves as the mothers of lesbian feminist liberation.

 STAR remained a tiny clique of cross-dressers.

 GAA had become best known for its "zaps," what its members dubbed their brazen, publicity-generating, confrontations of public officials.

 On the very last day of this month, a sunny Saturday morning, each of these troupes set out to celebrate the first anniversary of "Stonewall" by assembling on the stretch of 5th Avenue adjacent to Greenwich Village.

 Here they were joined by sign-bearing and banner-carrying affiliates of still newer groups, most notably, a handful of openly gay and lesbian teachers who were organizing a groundbreaking association of GLBT educators.

 Pumping signs, hoisting banners, and bedecked with liberation-touting pin-back buttons that had designed, acquired, donated, and sold by Craig Rodwell, these pioneering activists held hands, or draped their arms around the shoulders of one or more compatriots, and walked briskly up Fifth Avenue and into Central Park.

 Upon reaching its Sheep Meadow, its name a source of countless wisecracks, the founders of this unprecedented, emerging, New York City-based, GLBT community enjoyed a high-spirited and openly affectionate "Gay-In," called the most fitting way to celebrate this first GLBT Pride Day.

My Own Route

 Several years later, with the approval of my Harvard thesis advisers, I rented a room in Greenwich Village and spent several months tracking down and interviewing as many of these pioneering GLBT activists as I could locate -- dozens of them.

 To establish my credibility and win their trust, I made a habit of explaining how I had won the graduate-school fellowship I was using to finance my study of their groundbreaking politics by coming out personally, politically, and professionally myself.

 As it turned out, commuting back and forth between Cambridge and Manhattan, I spent the next year and a half tracking down, conversing with, and learning from the handful of available homophile leaders and the dozens of out-front gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activists who were responsible for these post-Stonewall American politics of homosexuality.

 Their generous support included entrusting me with dozens of their homophile movement and Stonewall Era files, newsletters, newspapers, fliers, posters, and pin-back buttons, all of which I have safely preserved.

 Come June of 2019, in honor of Stonewall 50, I plan to display the best of this historic memorabilia on the web sites at and I have acquired for this purpose.

Significant Sequels

 Back in the late 1970s, after transforming my Ph.D. thesis into a commercial book with the same title --"The Politics of Homosexuality" -- I was inspired anew by the idealism and the courage of the dozens of groundbreaking activists I had located, interviewed, and written about.

 I was also ready to personify their revolutionary credo -- "make the personal, political" -- by coming out publicly myself.

 With the support of my partner, Rusty Kothavala, and the help of a score of my Harvard College classmates who had also come out by then, I complemented my first book with an autobiographical and biographical follow-up titled "Sons of Harvard: Gay Men from the Class of 1967" (William Morrow, 1982).

 As noted earlier, Toby Johnson, whom I had gotten to know in the late 1970s, when he was working at the Tenderloin Clinic in San Francisco while I was co-directing the Tenderloin Ethnographic Research Project at nearby Central City Hospitality House, helped me transform my doctoral dissertation and its ensuing personification into readable commercial books.

 Howard Grant, with whom I became close after Rusty and I moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Berkeley, California, helped me with the far more challenging federally-funded ethnographic research I conducted during the 1980s and early 1990s: studying San Franciscan subcultures that had rapidly filled up with men and women afflicted with HIV infections and AIDS.

 Milton Perrin, photographer extraordinaire and master of the World Wide Web, has long gifted me with his talent for making handsome, multifaceted web sites.

 The initial stage of my own, which features reproductions of posters from the Stonewall Era in New York City, can be found at, aka as

Preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections

 As fate would have it, the ensuing 15 years I devoted to ethnographic research funded by various National Institutes of Health in an effort to curb the snowballing epidemic initially dubbed GRID, for Gay Related Immune Deficiency, and soon renamed AIDS, for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, ended up being why, in 1995, I was ready to join Rusty in moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Tucson, Arizona.

 By then, Tucson had become the American capital of integrative medicine, defined as traditional medicine plus so-called alternative and complementary approaches, many of which had originated elsewhere in the world.

 Most of these other approaches to healthcare valued prevention as much as treatment.

 By now I had become convinced that the officially recommended American alternatives for preventing HIV infections -- either abstinence or condom use -- were not the only, or even, given human nature, the most feasible approaches to stopping their spread.

 My extensive reading about the history of various kinds of sexually transmitted infections had convinced me that the longest-lived technique for preventing their transmission was, in both senses of this term, a solution.

 For centuries, in other countries and cultures, non-monogamous sexual partners have been taught to conclude each intimate encounter by using soap and water to cleanse and hence disinfect all of their previously engaged and exposed body parts.

 For centuries, Europeans and Asians have routinely facilitated such post-sex hygiene with a bathroom appliance known as a bidet -- essentially, a low sink the size and shape of a toilet bowl that came equipped with running water.

 On the page I have now maintained for years on the web site named "Library Thing," located at, I list and briefly comment on each of the most the authoritative, readable, English-language books about protective post-sex washing I have located.

 And thanks to "Library Thing," each of these books is accompanied by a tiny photo of its cover.

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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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