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Homosexuality provides clues to the meaning and purpose of human life.
In this companion volume to his critically acclaimed, Lambda Literary Awardwinning Gay Spirituality, Toby Johnson further explicates his visionary stance that gay people's nature as outsiders gives them a uniquely powerful perspective on the nature of God and religion. By living outside gender norms, gay people are more open to seeing across boundaries of gender and gain access to a less dualistic outlook on the nature of life. Once again, Johnson approaches this potentially controversial subject matter with -erudition, empathy and visionary speculation and gives meaning to gay consciousness beyond superficial issues of sexual behavior.
The lesbian and gay rights movement is popularly portrayed as an extremist faction of the Sexual Revolution. It is that, of course, but it's also far more than just that. The recognition of homosexuality as a psychological phenomenon, the rise of openly gay cultures, and the emergence of a distinctive gay consciousness in the last hundred years prompt fresh questions about the purpose of human life, the function of sex in consciousness, the role of authority in society, the meaning of religion and mythology, and even the nature of God.
We have to ask whether an even larger truth about life and God emerges from the personal experience of us actual homosexuals because of our uniquely gay perspective.
Uniquely Gay Perspective?
Many people, gay and straight, prefer to emphasize how much gay people are like other people. Don't we want to seem as normal and non-threatening as possible?
Of course, but we're not normal and non-threatening. Traditional culture heaps opprobrium upon us, especially in the name of religion. That gay people live positive and productive lives, that we are wonderful people and have important contributions to make to the development of human consciousness, shows us very positively abnormal and threatens the assumptions of traditional culture and religion.
As David Nimmons shows with statistics, hard facts, and anecdotal evidence in his remarkable book The Soul Beneath the Skin (a great companion to this present book), modern gay men have produced one of the most consistently non-violent associations of males that has ever existed. For all the problems in the gay world, we're remarkably generous, cooperative, supportive, friendly, harmonious, and peaceful. And what problems do exist-and they are legion, especially in the area of sexual relations-they are almost all products of erroneous ideas about what homosexuality is and who gay men are. Nimmons-who has created a New York-based movement of gay friendliness called Manifest Love to address these problems-argues convincingly that, for our own sake and for that of the larger society struggling to cope with the pressures and strife of modern life, the truth about our common gay virtue needs proclaiming because it's helpful to everybody.
If some other voluntary organization of males, Nimmons writes, demonstrated the virtual absence of public violence, high levels of service and volunteerism, novel forms of caretaking with strangers and friends, and uncommon amity across gender lines that modern gay men display, those unusual males would be lauded and lionized and held up as models for coping with modernization. But because the truth about our lives is distorted, misrepresented, and tarred with the brush of gender role nonconformity and wanton sexuality, our common goodness fails to be recognized as just such a model.
Our liberation from gender roles and our embrace of the inherent goodness of sexuality make us different from other human beings-and worth paying attention to. Besides, somebody needs to identify and prize alternative views of human life and the nature of the universe because the current views aren't making this world into heaven on earth. Perhaps we have special insights and special contributions that can help. It doesn't make us superior-or straight people inferior-to proclaim our place in the World Soul. And we must do this because no one else is going to do it for us.
Indeed, advances in biotechnology may soon make it possible for parents to test for and eliminate gay traits in their offspring. Science may make it possible to delete genetic tendencies toward homosexuality either by aborting future gay children or by "correcting" these tendencies through gene manipulation. If it's true-as so many of us know-that being gay is a blessing, a source of creativity, and a contribution to the evolution of humankind, then we need to argue why homosexuality should not be eliminated from the gene pool. We need to understand why our homosexual viewpoint is something to be protected and nurtured. And we need to tell future generations of homosexuals-which there will be in the near term, at least-how to value their experience positively and productively.
Beyond its place in the Sexual Revolution, the development of lesbian and gay consciousness is also a manifestation of that dramatic change in culture and consciousness loosely (and sometimes ridiculously) referred to as "New Age" or "new paradigm." This change has been wrought by modernization, increasing psychological sophistication, expanding ecological awareness, the liberation of scientific thinking from the constraints of religious dogma, the ongoing expansion of the human population, and the mingling of cultures and religions worldwide.