Perez, Joe 1970(?)–
Perez, Joe 1970(?)–
Rising Up: Reflections on Gay Culture, Politics, and Spirit, Lulu Publications, 2006.
Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God, Integral Books (Boston, MA), 2007.
Author of blogs Until and Gaia Community.
Joe Perez identifies himself on his home page as a writer "striving to take Integral approaches to issues in ordinary life, culture, politics, and spirituality." He also examines the "intersection of individual belief and cultural values." A student of Ken Wilber, an advocate of the integral movement, Perez is strongly influenced in his writing by integral philosophy.
The Integral Movement attempts to understand the universe and humanity's role in it by examining a combination of scientific and spiritual insights. It began at the California Institute of Integral Studies, which was founded in 1968 by Haridas Chaudhuri, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo.
Perez has been fascinated by spirituality throughout his life. His undergraduate degree from Harvard University was an A.B. in the comparative study of religion with philosophy as an allied field. He then attended the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, studying the psychology and sociology of religion. Raised a devout Roman Catholic, Perez struggled with the conflicts between his religious beliefs and his homosexuality, falling into drug addiction and psychosis after he was diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Perez's first book, Rising Up: Reflections on Gay Culture, Politics, and Spirit, blends together columns and postings originally written for the Gay Spirituality and Culture blog that he maintained on the Internet. Toby Johnson, in his review of Rising Up, for White Crane Online, suggested that reprints of a blog are tricky in that they only show one side of an ongoing conversation, but that Perez fills in explanations of the texts that have triggered his reactions. Johnson also pointed out that the style of writing on a blog lends itself to expression in the first person. Johnson commented, "Joe's personality is very present."
In Rising Up, Perez, influenced strongly by Wilber's writings, covers topics such as pop culture, contemporary gay life, the limitations of traditional religion, liberal and conservative politics, and progressive spirituality.
Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God is Perez's second book. It is his memoir of a fourteen-month period during which he confronts his confusion regarding his Catholicism and his homosexuality. His meditations follow his search for truth as he battles drug addiction and a diagnosis of AIDS, and encompasses topics such as astrology, spirituality, promiscuity, and gay marriage as he sinks into psychosis.
Critics of Soulfully Gay were touched by Perez's willingness to share his experiences. In his review for the Lambda Book Report, Thom Nickels wrote, "Perez is vulnerable enough to let the reader see his humanity," and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented, "This is an arresting record of a soul in progress."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lambda Book Report, June 22, 2007, Thom Nickels, review of Soulfully Gay: How Harvard, Sex, Drugs, and Integral Philosophy Drove Me Crazy and Brought Me Back to God, p. 14.
Library Journal, May 1, 2007, Graham Christian, review of Soulfully Gay, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2007, review of Soulfully Gay, p. 87.
Joe Perez Home Page,http://www.joe-perez.com (April 13, 2008).
White Crane Onlinehttp://whitecrane.typepad.com (May 2, 2008), Toby Johnson, review of Rising Up: Reflections on Gay Culture, Politics, and Spirit.