cover image Coming Out Spiritually: The Next Step

Coming Out Spiritually: The Next Step

Christian de La Huerta. Jeremy P. Tarcher, $15.95 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-87477-966-0

For many years, de la Huerta contends, gays and lesbians have been forced by organized religion to separate their sexual identities from their spiritual identities. The resulting spiritual fragmentation, according to the author, has been devastating to the gay community. De la Huerta, the founder and executive director of Q-Spirit, an international network of gays and lesbians focusing on spirituality, encourages ""queers"" (a term he uses to refer to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, in spite of its offensiveness to some people) to engage in ""practical experimentation"" of their spirituality. He states that his ""desire is to inspire a sense of wonderment, purpose, service, and mission in the gay community. It is now time for us to consciously reclaim and reinvent the roles we have played."" To that end, his first chapter names 10 roles that queers have historically played, arguing that the spiritual function and value of these roles need to be recognized. For example, de la Huerta notes that, throughout history, queers have played the role of shaman and priest. He lists several examples of ancient religious functionaries, such as the female agule (""like men"") and the male okule (""like women"") mediums of the Lugbara tribe of East Africa. In his second chapter, de la Huerta explores various methods--yoga, meditation, psychotherapy, Qi Gong and the labyrinth--that enable a person to encounter his or her own spiritual depths. Chapter three focuses on sexuality as an expression of spirituality. ""When we learn to reunite sex and Spirit in our lives,"" he says, ""we will experience change and healing beyond our wildest dreams."" In the final chapter, de la Huerta contends that coming out spiritually is a culmination of the journey of self-discovery. He notes that coming out means healing old wounds and moving beyond old identities as spiritually fragmented victims to embrace oneself as one really is: ""empowered, compassionate, loving, ready to make a difference in the world, and fully able to embrace the totality of life."" Appendices offer an overview of the world's spiritual traditions, a resource guide of spiritual organizations and a list of books, audios and videos. De la Huerta's beautifully crafted prose and his passionate desire to help queers come out spiritually mark this book as an extraordinary achievement. (June)