Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

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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

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

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

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

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

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

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

A Collaboration between Walter L. Williams & Toby Johnson


Two Spirits

This novel, based in the historical facts of the fabled  West, tells a tale of adventure of a young man from rural Virginia, assigned to be the Government Indian Agent on the Bosque Redondo Reservation in the desolate New Mexico desert after the Civil War.

In the 1860s, the Navajo Indians were held as virtual prisoners of war in an "experiment in Indian management" under the command of an unscrupulous Civil War general who was later removed because he had been swindling money sent by Washington for the Indians’ food and lodging, making himself and his cronies rich at the Indians’ expense and suffering.

This story recounts how the fictional Indian Agent develops a romantic relationship with a Two-Spirit medicine man among the Navajos, and so comes to appreciate personally the plight of the Indians on the reservation. The Two-Spirit Person is modeled on the revered character in certain Native American cultures who blends masculine and feminine genders into a kind of loving exemplar of the culture’s spiritual values.

Through a series of adventures, shot through with Navajo mysticism, the two loversbare chested shirtless man navajo Indian expose the general’s chicanery and bring about the Indians’ return to their ancestral homeland in eastern Arizona. In the process, the young Virginian learns Native American spirituality and discovers a positive context for his own emotional and sexual development.

His marriage to his Two-Spirit partner demonstrates historical precedent for same-sex marriage on American soil. "Gay marriage" is not new to America. The indigenous cultures on this continent had honored same-sex relationships long before Europeans immigrated here.

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo was awarded a development grant in the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation competition for Gay-positive Art Projects based on Historical Subjects.

The book includes an Afterword: About the Historical Accuracy of this Novel and
A Commentary by Navajo/Dine' scholar Wesley Thomas.

 "Two-Spirit" is the term chosen by lesbian and gay Native Americans (at an international conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1990) for gender variant men and women in indigenous cultures. These two-spirits were called "berdache" by French explorers (a term that is considered derogatory). In the Native cultures they were known by a variety of names, including (in English translation, of course) "Changing Ones," "One who is Transformed," "Those with Special Powers,""Spiritual Mediator," "Healer," also "Crossdresser"and "Male Woman," "Female Man."

In their native tongues, the Dinéh (Navajo) refer to them as nŕdleehé, the Lakota (Sioux) as winkte, the Mohave as alyha, the Zuni as lhamana, the Omaha as mexoga, the Aleut and Kodiak as achnucek, the Zapotec as ira’ muxe, the Cheyenne as he man eh. The Two-Spirit terms itself comes from an Anishinabe/Ojibway term, nizh manitoag.

While indigenous Two-Spirits were understood within the mythological and social context of their tribes as special beings, the identity parallels modern American, psychologically-tinged, or street-culture, terms for androgyny and androgynes like transsexual, transvestite, TS, TV, crossdresser, hermaphrodite, as well as T-boys, shemales, trannies, tranny, lady boy, drag queen, etc. The modern terms do not have the sense of honor and spiritual power that the Native American did.

An intention for this Western genre novel is to popularize the honorable quality of gender variance.

From A WONDERFUL review on Jessewave by Cole:

"Lastly, I want to encourage those of you who, although you might think that this story sounds wonderful, are afraid to read it. It is true that this story is far from a typical story in the M/M genre, but the two essential things that make up a romance are present here: a sweeping love story and a HEA [Happy Ever After]. Yes, I admit I cried several times while reading this, often in frustration and sometimes with joy. I won’t say that it was an easy story to read, because it isn’t. I often had to put this book down and take it up later. But that was the key: I always wanted to pick it back up. And more than anything, I felt like I took a journey with the characters and they became my friends. What more can you ask for in a book?"

"A treasure to read" 
                                                 -- W. Randy Haynes (Cherokee), author Cajun Snuff

"Can I tell you how many times I cried reading TWO SPIRITS?  SO beautiful...  like coming home."
-- Wade McCollum, singer

". . . one of the most moving novels I have read in a very long time. . .  It is still resonating with me."
-- John Caminiti, writer

Two Spirits
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo
Lethe Press, pb, 332 pages, $18.00

Two Spirits is an historical novel by Walter L. Williams and Toby Johnson.

With its sweet tale of inter-racial romance between a young Civil War survivor from Virginia and a Navajo berdache/two-spirit healer of the Old West, this novel demonstrates gender variance as a source of spiritual power and documents "same-sex marriage" as indigenous to the American continent.

To purchase TWO SPIRITS  from

OR purchase from Toby Johnson using Paypal

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

Click here: Two Spirits - Audiobook

Two Spirits is available through gay & lesbian bookstores nationwide and on the Internet through all usual channels.


Walter Williams and Toby Johnson (editor) also worked together on Williams' novel of Pacific Island cultures and 18th century whaling, set during the time of the Civil War.

Spirit of the Pacific is a dramatization of wisdom from Japanese Buddhism and Hawaiian shamanism

SPiri of the PacificWhaling ships in the Aleutian Islands, Confederate raiders and Union naval vessels in Maui, sloops and skiffs in the Hawaiian Islands--ships sail into the unknown and change lives. This is the story of Eddie Freeman, an African American slave from South Carolina, who escaped slavery in 1860 and got involved in the Civil War in a way that he never would have expected. Eddie learned not to be afraid of change and the unknown. Eddie was attracted to his own sex, and in 21st century nomenclature would be called gay. But in his day he was just a young man trying to find love and give affection. This is a story about the unexpected twists and turns of life, and how sometimes a person must travel one way to get to the other, become a sailor to find solid land, go to the Arctic to get to a tropical paradise. It is about giving up one’s home to find a better home. It is a story about learning to transcend the polarities of slave and free, sacred and profane, love and hate, human and animal. Most importantly, it is a story about learning to transcend the polarity of life and death to become one with nature, experience limitless love, gain absolute happiness, and achieve true spiritual freedom.

Spirit of the Pacific is available from in kindle format and in third party hardcopy.

And from in ePub and other digital formats.



Walter L. WilliamsWalter L Williams is author of the award-winning book THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH: SEXUAL DIVERSITY IN AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURE.  He has been professor of anthropology, history and gender studies at the University of Southern California, where he taught gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies, and also American Indian Studies. He is past president of ONE Institute International Gay and Lesbian Archives, and is currently editor of the INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN REVIEW. For the past two decades, he has been speaking on the berdache (now more preferably called Two-Spirit) phenomenon and has been well-received both by fellow anthropologists and by general audiences. THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH is a basic staple of any gay reading list and is stocked in bookstores well beyond the network of gay stores.

download hi-res tif photo of Walter L. Williams   color    b&w

Walter L. Williams has developed a language system which he calls engspan which makes it easier for people to learn both Spanish and English and which could function as a easy language for a globalized world.

engspan easy spelling part 1 introduction

engspan easy spelling part 2 vowels

engspan easy spelling part 3 consonants

Toby JohnsonToby Johnson is a writer and former bookseller in the gay genre. He was a counselor in San Francisco in the 1970s and one of the developers of gay-oriented psychotherapy. For almost seven years, he and his partner operated Liberty Books, the lesbian and gay community bookstore in Austin. From 1997 to 2004 Johnson was editor and publisher of the small but respected quarterly journal of gay men’s spirituality, WHITE CRANE. He has had published three gay novels and five non-fiction works about the ideas of renowned religions scholar Joseph Campbell. Johnson, only half-joking, refers to himself as "Joe Campbell's apostle to the gay community." His novel SECRET MATTER won a Lammy in 1990; in 1999, it was nominated for induction into the Gay Lesbian Science Fiction Hall of Fame in the first year of the competition, so one of five nominees out of all the gay and lesbian science fiction ever written.

Recently, with Kip Dollar, his partner of 23 years, Johnson has operated a gay Bed & Breakfast first in the Rocky Mountains and then in the Texas Hill Country. Kip and Toby were the first male couple registered as Domestic Partners in Texas.

For more info about Toby Johnson's books, see  Toby's Books

download hi-res tif photo of Toby Johnson   color    b&w


This novel is more than just an exciting story of Native Americans in the Civil War era. Drawing upon Diné philosophy, it presents a positive way to approach life. It calls for acknowledging and respecting the important role that eroticism plays in a person’s existence. It provides a sense of humanity in its recognition that people, who would today be identified as transgendered or gay, were always part of the Diné way of life. Above all, this book--I hope--will provide the means for Americans to look at, if not re-look at, the Native population which has been pushed into the cracks between the pages of American history textbooks.
    --Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Dine'), Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Gender Studies, Indiana University

With its sweet and triumphal love story, Two Spirits is a welcome addition to the literature of the real West and the hidden history of same-sex people. It gives a whole new meaning to "how the west was won."
     --Bo Young, Editor,  White Crane Journal

Two Spirits is a story of compassion, and of love between males--one of them a person of "two-spirits," a berdache. It is a tale of spirituality, injustice, and courage set against the stark tragedy of the Navajo experience of the 1860's.
    --Ruth Sims, author, The Phoenix

Two Spirits is a spectacular tale based on the 1860s eviction of the Navajo people from their sacred homelands. The reader is transported to an earlier era where little-known spiritual traditions were, until recently, unmentionable outside some Native American cultures. With an obvious love and deep respect for the Navajo, Williams and Johnson expose a clash of cultures that will stun many. Two Spirits, a treasure to read, is a rare combination of historical fiction and spiritual wisdom at its absolute finest.
      --W. Randy Haynes (Cherokee), author, Cajun Snuff


There're two "Press Releases" about Two Spirits
Long     Short
hi-res pdf file of front cover

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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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