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{Book cover} Out on Holy Ground
Meditations on Gay Men's Spirituality
By Donald L. Boisvert
Published by The Pilgrim Press
148 pages, $29.95
Review by Michael Cottrell


This book sits in my desk drawer, not yet completely read. One chapter is left. Oh, it is not that I have dawdled. I just received it through the mail barely two days ago. When Out on Holy Ground arrived for my review, I wanted to sequester myself into some quiet space and read it all at once. Entering the rhythm of Boisvert's writing, I decided to slow my pace... slow and savour. So now the last chapter sits, waiting, waiting for me....

"A gay man is one who recognizes and lives by the ‘sacrality' of masculine beauty and homosex. And coming out is a gay man's refusal to live a life that belies the sacrality of what he holds sacred."
-Ronald E. Long-
 

Out on Holy Ground, which was to be released as Queering the Sacred, is about gay male spirituality. Québécois, Canadian writer Donald Boisvert puts into words his thoughts and muses about what makes gay men sacred.

"The religious is encountered, wherever human beings crave and create meaning."
 

To be honest, my first reaction when the book arrived was "ohhhhh god, here is yet another book that is going to try to mash queerness into organized religion". Boisvert writes, as he says, "from the margins". Out on Holy Ground pushes you to the edge. By so pushing, the writer avoids sterilizing homosexuality which is so prevalent in today's culture, as more and more queers try to assimilate and integrate into mainstream society.

{Porn image with halo}

"I profoundly believe that we need to reaffirm our heritage of promiscuity. We need to reclaim our status as sexual deviants. [...] We have existed in order to remind the straight man and the patriarchal social order he has created that he is not the apex of creation or the summum bonum. We still do. He has hated and killed us for it. He still does. [...]

"Gay sexual activity is not qualitatively better or superior to other forms of erotic expression. It is, however, discrepant and anarchistic, and therein lies the special quality that makes it so fundamentally different. It has always been, it remains, and it will undoubtedly always be uncontrolled and uncontrollable by the guardians of the so-called public morality. Even if it becomes sanctioned by marriage of another form of public commitment there will still be a faint smell of the illegal and the sinful about it. Many believe this to be good and necessary. To remain healthy, society needs those who stand at its margins, the better to judge it and, in so doing, to edge it forward."

 

Out on Holy Ground reaffirms queer men for who we are and what we do. Boisvert has created a book with an ability to blend sociological, historical and autobiographical materials and good research that are comparable, if not equal to, the profound and classic works of John McNeill and John Fortunato and John Boswell.

"What is exciting and not at all problematic about gay spirituality is that the outcast, the pervert has finally entered the holy of holies and has dared to call his god "queer". And of that, we can all be justifiably proud and grateful. It calls for celebration."
 

OK, so I cheated and snuck away while writing to finish the read! Like a great act of passion, I had to do the inevitable and bring it to a completion. Like a stranger from the shadows, Out on Holy Ground has left me with a warm glow, fond memories and provocation to think and rethink this queer journey of mine.

Book cover: photo by Kamil Vojnar/Photonica; design by Martha A. Clark




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