Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God

By Gilder, Eric S. | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God


Gilder, Eric S., Anglican Theological Review


Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God. By Joe Perez. Boston, Mass. and London: Integral/Shambhala, 2007. xviii + 328 pp. $16.95 (paper).

This autobiographical writing by a formerly Roman Catholic, gay, Harvard and University of Chicago Divinity School graduate reminds this reviewer of two interrelated themes. The first is that of exile/homecoming (to use philosopher Sam Keen's rendering). The second is that of transformation (in light of Rowan Williams's recent, controversial idea that any rightful use of "inclusion" as a value in the church must also imply acceptance of an initially unplumbed process of spiritual journeying toward an unknown congruence with God's will). Sotdfully Gay does seem to transverse what Keen calls a "graceful" movement from an experientially "dis-eased present" (in which temporality is experienced as "in exile" either from the present, by unproductive repetition of life-patterns, or in the present, to live only as if there is no tomorrow), toward a "vibrant present" (in which life is lived as a "gift" of "presents" enacted in the "presence" of God as revealed in self and in others). Rightfully done, a totally honest, self-critical reconstruction of one's past can allow for such a transformation into a creatively productive "open future."

Through a trying journey from a very sheltered, middle-class Roman Catholic family life toward incrementally growing self-awareness (first as a merely "different" sensitive boy and then as a "gay" young man), Perez was attached to religion early on. Just as he was matriculating in his first year at Harvard, his beloved oldest brother Bobby became ill with AIDS, a fact which caused his family finally to admit to Joe that his brother was gay and had even attempted suicide earlier. Perez was thus, in his second year at Harvard, "divided between studies and brooding over the dramas of my family life" (p, 12). His academic interests drifted from philosophy to psychology, and the end of the first semester was marked by his first transcendental experience. Later, he shifted his final undergraduate study to comparative religion, and further, by his senior year, was more openly acknowledging to himself and others his homosexuality. Despite his increasing interest in religion as a field of study, Perez states, "as I came out of the closet, the need to try and reconcile my homosexual desires with Christianity faded, for the religion of my upbringing no longer seemed credible enough to warrant the effort" (p. 18).

Yet, delving into graduate study at Chicago brought a different attitude into consciousness. Hence, Perez started to read widely on homosexuality vis-à-vis religion, and was oddly attracted to the "most subtle" of the "conservative" writers on the topic, in that both the "liberal" and the "liberationist," "queer theory" theological writings struck him as either shallow or pessimistic. "Gradually, I came to realize that the allure of these conservative religious beliefs was not what they said about homosexuality's meaning but that they were able to talk about homosexuality as something that held a rightful purpose in a meaningful and ultimately good universe" (p. 20).

His faith in this irenic Platonic view was subsequently challenged by his own HIV-positive diagnosis at twenty-four, shortly after his brother Bobby's death from AIDS in 1991. "Facing the prospect of death at a young age, I wanted so much to experience everything that I hadn't yet. I wanted to find true love. I wanted to do great things. I wanted to be somebody.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.