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Gay Soul Paperback – May 12, 1995
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From Library Journal
Thompson (Gay Spirit, St. Martin's, 1987) plumbs "the potentialities of otherness" in these compelling interviews with a remarkably diverse, insightful roster of gay men, all of whom ponder and exemplify the spiritual possibilities of the gay experience. At 81, poet and filmmaker James Broughton is yet the imp of the collection, gleefully exhorting readers to revel in "the delicious absurdities of the world." Spiritual activist Ram Dass invites us to understand suffering as grace, to see one's "incarnation as a curriculum." Jungian psychotherapist Robert Hopcke suggests that drag queens embody the trickster archetype in American culture. And anthropologist Will Roscoe sees promise in the Native American berdache tradition of the third cultural gender accepted because he "mediates the divisions and contradictions within the community." Rife with uncommon visions, Gay Soul is an excellent sourcebook of psychical constructions of queerness.
Thomas Tavis, San Francisco P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The author has a series of with well-known community figures, spiritual leaders, and artists such as Harry Hay, Ram Dass, Andrew Harvey, Paul Monette, James Broughton.
We thought that the interview format was good, though there were some leading questions.
It was thought provoking.
The idea that gay men have some sort of shamanic, unique insight because they are outsiders and felt different from an early age was popular at the start of the last century. Whether this will last now that the stigma is lessening is questionable.
Richard Isay repeats the distant father thing but is it cause or effect? Chicken or egg?)
James Broughton reckons that gay men make a contribution to straights. He also points out the untruth of body/soul dualism.
Paul Monette has become discerning about enemies and advises gays to know their rich heritage.
The editor does well to point out that there are many fakes.
So far so good but I balk at Andrew Harvey saying that: The earth has AIDS because of the way we've treated it.
Instead of saying that ‘AIDS is God’s wrath’ he seems to be saying that it’s Gaia’s wrath.
So some gay men lack empathy and are fairly alien.
Harry Hay prefers ‘homophile’ to ‘homosexual’ because it moves the emphasis from sex to love. The Church of England produced a report which used this term though people thought it was because of a fear of sex.
If bishops produced a statement about the earth being flat, that wouldn’t make it true.
Clyde Hall said: Indian people think of the two worlds being separated by a very thin veneer, like a curtain.
It reminds me of Celtic talk about ‘the veil is very thin here when talking of some numinous place.
Given the title of the book, how does one define ‘soul’? I don’t believe in such a thing because it is dualist.
I can’t make Ram Dass out. He was born Jewish, espouses some bits of Hinduism yet has taken the name of one of the Sikh gurus, albeit adding an extra ‘s’.
I used to know someone who regularly travelled to the United States to attend Body Electric workshops so it was interesting to ready Joseph Kramer’s explanation of the theory behind them. His thought about full body orgasms owes a lot to William Reich.
After reading Guy Baldwin I still don’t understand S & M.
Ed Steinbecher gives a good tarot meditation.
As ever, I enjoyed reading Malcolm Boyd until he naively asserted: I believe that God has a plan.
Mitch Walker disagrees with Foucault’s social construction theory but fails to give reasons.
One of our members did and said: In the end, I was not convinced that 'Gay' is the 3rd (or 4th) sex. For me, being Gay describes ONE ELEMENT of who I am. I am emotionally and physically attracted to men. That is not a TOTAL description of who I am. Being Gay has enabled me to meet and have friendships/relationships/sex with guys of different social classes, backgrounds, religions, nationalities. Gay covers all classes, castes, religions, backgrounds, political and socio/economic groups. It absolutely does not mean that we are all THE SAME. I just have to venture into The Pineapple (local gay bar) to know that the ONLY thing I have in common with most guys in there is that we enjoy SEX WITH MEN. I also believe that there is a whole spectrum of sexual identity from 100% Homosexual at one extreme.......through bi-sexual, metrosexual, bi-curious.....to 100% Heterosexual at the other, and that most men are clustered at the 95% Gay or 95% straight level, but that this can change with circumstances. So, in spite of all the attempts to paint GAY as inherently a different class, breed, sect, religion....and to inbue us with special powers or skills - hairdressers, counsellors, artists, painters, interior designers....whatever - in the end (if that's the right expression), Gays can be tall, short, blonde, redhead, Tory, Labour, Liberal, SNP, UKIP (maybe not)......I have met both angels and devils in the gay community. I am still left with a fascinating question, which 'Gay Soul' makes me think about, but does not answer. What is Gay? Going to bed with a so called 'Straight' guy can be very exciting; but the fact that he wants to know what it feels like to be passive doesn't actually make him Gay. Does it ?