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About Toby Johnson

Edwin Clark (Toby) Johnson, PhD, is author of several autobiographical accounts of his personal spiritual development, influenced by the thought of comparative religion scholar Joseph Campbell. The Myth of the Great Secret: A Search for Meaning in the Face of Emptiness (Morrow, 1982) recounted his leaving Roman Catholic monastic life and discovering a new meaning for religion in the revolutionary days of the late '60s and early '70s. In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld (Morrow, 1983) described Johnson's experiences--and his interpretation of events as a religion scholar--while working with Harvard-trained gay sociologist (and namesake) Toby Marotta in a federally funded study of teenage prostitution. The Myth of the Great Secret (second edition): An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell (Celestial Arts, 1992) combined the most Campbellian parts of the first two books, adding substantial anecdotal material about Johnson's friendship with Campbell.

In the late '70s, he worked as editor/assistant with Marotta in producing Marotta's first two books, The Politics of Homosexuality and Sons of Harvard: Gay Men in the Class of '67.

Toby Johnson is also author of four gay men's novels. Plague: A Novel About Healing (Alyson, 1987) applied the wisdom of spiritual healing to the case of AIDS in a thriller plot. Secret Matter (Lavender Press, 1990 and Lethe Press, 2005) was a sweet, soft sci-fi, romantic parable about truthtelling and gay identity that featured a retelling of the creation myth from Genesis with a gay-positive outcome. It won a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Science-Fiction the year it was published. In 1999, Secret Matter was a nominee to the Gay Lesbian Science-Fiction Hall of Fame, the first year of the award. An updated and expanded version of Secret Matter was released in 2005. Getting Life in Perspective (Lethe, 2009) was a post-modern ghost story featuring two lovable apparitions from turn-of-the-century America who bring a message of spiritual meaning to a contemporary gay man struggling with issues of modern life. Two Spirits: A Story of Life With the Navajo, (Lethe 2008) an historical novel written in collaboration with Walter L. Williams, Ph.D. dramatized the two-spirit/berdache spiritual/gender wisdom of Native American cultures in retelling an event in Navajo history with a (maybe) fictionalized "gay explanation" for the successful outcome of the terrible situation in which the Navajo people had been plunged during the American Indian Wars.

In 1996, Johnson took over the job of editing and publishing White Crane: A Quarterly Journal of Gay Men's Spirituality. He passed the job on to Bo Young and Dan Vera after seven years.

His book, Gay Spirituality, evolved out of his role with White Crane. It was followed by Gay Perspective: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us About the Nature of God and the Universe (Alyson, 2003). Both now released with updating by White Crane Books, an imprint of Lethe Press.

For several summers in the early '70s he was on staff at a Jungian-oriented conference center in the coastal mountains north of San Francisco called The Mann Ranch. There he met many of the leaders of new paradigm thinking, including Campbell. To this day, when asked his religion, Johnson--only half tongue-in-cheek--identifies himself as a Northern Californian Jungian Buddhist. During the early 90s, Johnson was on the Board of the Directors of the Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Archives and Library at Pacifica Graduate Center near Santa Barbara.

Toby Johnson was trained as a psychotherapist in San Francisco during the time gay-oriented psychotherapy was being developed. As co-chair and spokesperson for the Gay Mental Health Task Force of San Francisco's Health Department, he was instrumental in the adoption of a Gay Client's Bill of Rights that guaranteed gay clients/patients access to gay or gay-sensitive health care providers--a notion that had major effects in AIDS-related services a few years later.

Johnson practiced psychotherapy in San Francisco and later in his hometown, San Antonio. For several years in the early '80s, Johnson was male co-chair of the San Antonio Gay Alliance. Then from 1988 to 1994, he and Kip Dollar ran Liberty Books, the gay and lesbian community bookstore in Austin, TX.

While in Texas, Toby and Kip organized several annual Gay Pride celebrations, worked with fledgling AIDS Foundations and helped found gay business societies in both San Antonio and Austin. Partners since 1984, they were "poster boys" for gay marriage in the Texas capital, and were the first male couple registered as domestic partners in Travis County. They were also the cover boys on the Spring '97 issue of Naked Magazine. They are among the fourteen couples featured in Merle Yost's coffee table book from Pilgrim Press, When Love Lasts Forever: Male Couples Celebrate Commitment.

In fulfillment of a dream they share with many gay couples, Toby and Kip operated a gay bed and breakfast first in the Rocky Mountains outside Denver called The House at Peregrine's Perspective and later in the Texas Hill Country called Casa Peregrino.

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