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Queer Spirits

A Gay Men's Myth Book


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James Broughton

Samuel M. Steward

Steven Saylor

James Thurber

Flannery O’Connor

Harry Hay

...and writers and storytellers from around the world

This collection was compiled to inspire, guide, and challenge gay men who are seeking a deeper understanding of their sexuality and identity, of the community they live in, of their history and place in society and culture.

The harsh realities of HIV and rampant homophobia have awakened us to the fact that being gay is serious business. It’s time to ask ourselves, what does it all mean? This intense eroticism that pervades our lives and pulses through all our gatherings—this instinct for reversal, for improvising roles and identities—this sense of flair that shows up in the leatherman no less than the queen? Instinctively seeking to become, in the words of American Indian writer Clyde Hall, “persons of substance,” we hunger for clues to the meaning of our lives.


“This vibrant collection, woven into a seamless fabric by Roscoe’s thoughtful commentary and insight, lights our way on the healing path toward wholeness.”—Mark Thompson

Don’t we lead mythical lives? Even the most unassuming of us can tell amazing stories of victory against overwhelming odds, self-respect forged out of mind-boggling hate, invention and wit mothered by inescapable necessity. When Joseph Campbell spoke of the hero’s journey he should have used us as his example—although he never did. We’re the ones who arrive at wholeness after an oblique journey to the margins of the social order and back again, who suffer inordinate wounds and are healed, who win the gift of “insider-outsider” vision and can therefore speak with authority to men and women alike...
from the Preface


AFRICA When You Piss, I Shall Piss as Well (Fang); Why Lizard’s Head is Always Moving Up and Down (Ekoi) SOUTHEAST ASIA Future Spirit (Burma); Gold is Put into our Eyes (Borneo) CHINA Linked Jade Disks EUROPE A Different World (Quentin Crisp); All Ills Grow Better (Scandinavia); Auld Scratty’ll Git Thi (Northern Europe); First Contacts (Jean Cocteau); The Golden Key (Peter Cashorali); Sun and Flesh (Arthur Rimbaud); The Ugly Duckling (Hans Christian Andersen); Two Pretty Men (United Kingdom); A Vast Hermaphrodite (William Blake); GREECE Apollo and Hyacinthus; Attis; Becoming One Instead of Two; The Gallus and the Lion; Snatched Away INDIA Future Spirit; The Power of the Hijras; Respect; Wearing Rings on My Ears and Bangles on My Wrists JAPAN He Fell in Love When the Mountain Rose Was in Bloom LATIN AMERICA Strap of My Bra, Hem of My Pants (Brazil) MESOPOTAMIA He is an Equal to You; His Appearance is Brilliant NATIVE NORTH AMERICA A Very Great Doctor (Plains Cree); The Basket and the Bow (Papago); Dekanawida and Hayonhwatha (Iroquois); Don’t Look Back (Yokuts); First Contacts; Future Spirit; I’m Going to Have You (Kwakiutl); I Alone Keep Up Life (Navajo); I Am Holy (Hidatsa) Son of the Sun (Navajo); There Was Great Rejoicing (Crow); They Have Been Given Certain Powers (Sioux); What One Dreams, That Will Be (Mohave); You Will Now Perhaps be Less Angry (Zuni) PERSIA That Moon Which the Sky Ne’er Saw (Rumi) POLYNESIA Hurrah for the Mahu! (Tahiti); None Like Him (Hawaii); Future Spirit (Hawaii) SIBERIA Soft Man (Chukchi) ROMAN WORLD And He Remained with Him that Night; Sweet to Me Above All Sweetness; Their Beastly Customs and Inordinate Desires UNITED STATES Behind the Hill (Samuel M. Steward); Blue Light (Steven Saylor); Dionysus at the Disco (Will Roscoe); The Moth and the Star (James Thurber); Muscle Bound (Christopher Morgan); A Temple of the Holy Ghost (Flannery O’Connor); Our Spiritual NEITHERNESS (Harry Hay); We Two Boys Together Clinging (Walt Whitman)

Robin and Richard

Were two pretty Men.

They lay in Bed

’Till the Clock struck Ten:

Then up starts Robin

And looks at the sky,

Oh! Brother Richard,

The Sun’s very high

You go before

With the Bottle and Bag,

And I will come after

On little Jack Nag.

Mother Goose’s Melody:
or Sonnets for the Cradle, c. 1760