Last week I was at Barnes & Noble, had just finished my latte and my book, Eat Pray Love (great), was walking out of the store glancing at books on a table display, and saw the words “Soul,” “Gay,” and “Integral,” so of course your book just jumped off the shelf into my hands. I stood there reading Ken Wilber’s amazing Forward and bought the book immediately, as I am a lesbian and a Ken Wilber nut. I finished reading it a couple of days ago and was extremely impressed.
I live in Denver, Colorado. I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, got a couple of master’s in Sacred Music and Choral Conducting, spent four years as a full-time minister of music at a large church in Houston, was fired for being gay in 1967, went back to school to become a freelance court reporter, which lasted for 30 years, and I’m now 67 and four years into retirement.
Do you remember in Boomeritis when Ken says that people have spurts of growth in their 20s and also after retirement (geeks and geezers)? Well, I’m one of the geezers. Meanwhile, I helped start Denver PFLAG in 1980, and later formed and conducted four gay choruses: the PFLAG Festival Chorus, the Denver Women’s Chorus, the Celebration ’90 Festival Chorus (a world chorus for the Gay Games in Vancouver in 1990), and Harmony: a Colorado Chorale. I stopped conducting 12 years ago, but still go to all the concerts.
My lover Judith and I met in PFLAG and have been together 24 years this month, and we’ve also been involved in Soulforce at their demonstrations in Denver for the Episcopalians, Washington D.C. for the Catholic bishops, and Colorado Springs for Focus on the Family twice.
Several years ago we both read Grace and Grit. I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read, but several years later Judith read in the newspaper that Ken Wilber was appearing at Tattered Cover Book Store in downtown Denver to sign his novel Boomeritis, so we jumped at the chance to meet him. I took that book with me to the mountains as a summer read, and it blew my mind and, as they say, the rest is history. I organized a group of my friends (18 actually showed up) to discuss the book twice, then I read A Theory of Everything, A Brief History of Everything, One Taste, A Simple Feeling of Being, The Marriage of Sense and Soul, The Essential Ken Wilber, and most recently Integral Spirituality.
That last one is a tough one, but we just finished a discussion group that took it on… So it’s easy to see why I related so much to your book. I have also lost many friends to aids and have four very good friends who are still living with it and doing very well…
…My life has classically passed through all the stages, Christianity for 27 years, nothing for 13 years, Science of Mind for 15 or 20 years, and then Ken stepped in and blew it all to hell. And now….maybe Integral. I hope so. Anyway, thanks for writing Soulfully Gay. I did appreciate it so much…
And I will take your book with me to the Meetup group this Wednesday, June 6, and suggest that they may want to read it. I’ve met thousands of gay men in my work with PFLAG and all the choruses over the years, but your book gave me some new insights into gay men about things that most people don’t have the guts or gumption to talk about in public, at least not to women. I did notice that it was almost entirely about men, and I wondered if you have had much contact with lesbians on your path.
Thanks for permission to reprint your letter. To address your last question, I realize that Soulfully Gay is primarily about my experiences as a gay man so there’s not much that’s directly related to the experiences of others as such.
As for whether I’ve encountered lesbians on my path: yes, but not enough. (I tend to have more women friends in my life the more I’m engaged in social service work, which has been on and off.) I want to eventually do a follow-up book which will explore more richly the various experiences of women, lesbians, bisexuals, the transgendered, and other sexual minorities and gender outlaws. There’s still a lot of room for me to grow in my understanding of human nature by encountering “otherness” and growing together in friendship and love.