Mar 6, 2014

Gay Spirituality/ NEW WEBSITE

I've just been alerted to a wonderful, relatively new blog site devoted to gay spirituality, entitled, appropriately enough, "GAY SPIRITUALITY.COM." It was begun by spiritual author, Joe Perez, last July 2013 and simply the fact he was able to obtain the domain name Gay Spirituality tells you something about the real need for such sites. Obviously, there was not much competition and the name was freely available. 

The site seems extraordinarily rich and I've just started reading through the postings and intend to go through all of them within the next week or so. A truly remarkable resource.

For those of you familiar with Ken Wilbur's truly groundbreaking work in integral spirituality, here is Ken's endorsement of the site:

"The stuff of Joe’s art, the raw materials, can be found in his essays, his blogs,Soulfully Gay, delivered with urgency and lust and luminosity, the best and the worst, the glorious and the degraded-there is room for all of it in that resounding “Yes!,” for the secret is not that all of it is pretty, but that you tell the truth about it, converting even the grotesque into the sublime, if you tell the truth. Joe’s life is being artfully lived in the very fact of its truthfulness, its deep embrace, shadows and warts and all, woven unhesitatingly into the tapestry of a lustrous display, a deep peace, an abiding love. and therein, surely, a lesson for us all, this artwork that is a thing of beauty, this artwork that will never die, even when the frame around it perishes." - Ken Wilber

For an overview of the philosophy behind the site, I recommend downloading Joe's book, Gay Spirituality 101, which at 1.99  dollars is less than the price of a fancy caffe latte grande. 

Here is a description of the book:

Gay Spirituality 101 presents for the first time a concise explanation of Joe Perez's view of Homophilia in Human Nature and situates it within a philosophical system derived from pre-modern, modern, postmodern, and post-postmodern wisdom. In Perez's thought, Gay Spirituality is not what a previous generation of writers held it to be: a celebration of the gay self immersed in the neo-pagan Myth of a Gay Golden Age. Instead, Gay Spirituality is deemed to be the practice of Homophilia, inspiring and evocative of the deepest and most divine in human nature. It recognizes a deep level of unity between the relative self and a higher Self. Homophilia is identified with the love of God or the Divine or the Sacred. Forged from the suffering and unique gifts of the community of same-sex lovers, this vision suggests that gayness is a platform for a valid spiritual path. Moreover only by understanding homosexuality from a spiritual perspective is heterosexuality and straight love properly understood.

Toby Johnson, one of the grandfather pioneers of gay spirituality has endorsed the book in glowing terms:

Gay Spirituality 101 is far more than an "introduction"; indeed, if we're using college level identifiers, this is more like a 303 graduate seminar than 101. Joe Perez rises to a much higher perspective in his analysis of themes in gay spirituality than a 101 Intro. Using the evolutionary and consciousness-stage model of Ken Wilber, Perez places insights into the nature of reality itself gleaned from deep investigation of gay inner experience as the real heart of the gay spirituality movement. Just as in order to understand sexuality you have to include both heterosexuality and homosexuality, so in order to understand the human relationship to the Divine you have to include both what he calls heterophilia and homophilia, that is, the universe's love for complementary opposites and its love for itself in its own perfect reflection. A modern gay perspective on religion and spirituality transcends the styles and pop idioms of neo-pagan imitation. Moderns cannot go back to pre-Christian, pre-Patriarchal paganism if only because we know better. We understand these things as myth and symbol from a pre-scientific time. My whimsical complaint with the book is that it's too short. I wanted more of Perez's insights. This book isn't about being a religious gay man or lesbian seeking a welcoming church; it's about honoring and learning from the unusual—and sometimes queer—perspective that being gay can force upon one's soul and psyche. A quick read, but very packed and thoughtful.

Joe's bestselling memoir, Soulfully Gay, is available on Amazon as well, and I've just ordered it (not available for download unfortunately). Given his Catholic background, this is a must read for all of us post Catholic gay bloggers out there! I'm really excited to have made this discovery and many thanks to Joe for having contacted me. My only regret is that it took me so long to make public this discovery here at Gay Mystics (health issues, pathetic excuse).

Soulfully Gay is a personal memoir of an intellectually rigorous gay man wrestling with fundamental issues of meaning and self-acceptance. Joe Perez finds himself on a quest to understand what it means to be gay at the intersection of conflicts between homosexuality and Christianity, faith and skepticism, mysticism and madness. His journey unfolds amid challenges to his health as a recovering addict, a survivor of a psychotic episode, and a man living with AIDS. Joe is able to integrate seemingly contradictory elements—his Roman Catholic upbringing versus his openly gay lifestyle, his authentic mystical experiences versus the delusions for which he was hospitalized. With a solid understanding of theology and an ability to see through the veils of political correctness, Joe brings a new level of intellect and understanding to the challenges of being a gay man.

I'm really excited about this 'new' discovery and for adding such a rich resource to Gay Mystics. More to come soon!