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The Essential Gay Mystics.

This book gives us selected readings from a dizzying variety of lesbian and gay spiritual visionaries--Sappho to Michelangelo, Emily Dickinson to Dag Hammarskjold. Lesbian and gay readers will be nurtured when they find old friends in these selections, surprised and delighted to meet new ones.

In quoting his infinitely varied procession of gay mystics, editor Andrew Harvey finds a common thread: the tantric vision of reality, which rejects the old separations between heaven and earth, body and spirit, heart and mind in favor of an erotic, sensual appreciation of human existence. "You will find here austere as well as flamboyant lovers of God ... every aspect of the soul's relationship to its beloved," Harvey writes in his introduction.

For Harvey, Walt Whitman is the pivotal figure of gay mystical history. He cites "the fearless, ecstatic witness" of Whitman and Edward Carpenter as well as successors D.H. Lawrence, Elsa Gidlow, and Audre Lord. These gay and lesbian people used their homosexuality as a channel to make sense of their spirituality. In them, he writes, Harvey discovered "images of gayness more noble and inspiring than those I was given by either straight or contemporary gay culture."

Born in India and educated in England, Harvey has a gay and lesbian sensibility and a vision for wholeness, and in this comprehensive work, he puts forth a clear mystical message: The spiritual answer for gays and lesbians is not to renounce the world but to integrate it.
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Author:Boyd, Malcolm
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 10, 1997
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