September 20, 2011

Question: You're Gay & Amish?

Horse and buggy, quilts, plain clothes, homes without electricity, shoofly pie, churning butter, men with long beards but no mustaches, cornfed Pennsylvania Dutch speaking hot guys (ok maybe that one is a far stretch, but you never know.) and children with names like Amos and Fannie challenging each other to footraces, are a just a few things that come to my mind when I think of the Amish. With a population of over 249,000 there has to be Amish individuals whom are gay, right?

Being gay is hard enough, but when you add a very religious, confined structure to the mix it's downright impossible to be who you really are. If you are born gay and born Amish can the two coexist? So what would happen to the Amish gay individual if he stays in his community? He's shunned. They are made to feel like outcasts. Their friends and relatives cannot speak to them, touch them, or eat with them during meals. The Amish community's goal is to get the person shamed into repenting, or to make the guy feel so lonely he'll leave the community.

Perhaps the only way a young gay Amish adult can experience the gay life without being shunned is during rumspringa. Rumspringa is a religious rite-of-passage. It means in Pennsylvania Dutch "running wild". I just had a picture of Girls Gone Wild With Bonnets pop in my head, but I assume things don't get that crazy. Rumspringa, is a period of time when young Amish adults can sample the temptations normally banned within their religious communities. Some choose to return while others never go back and try to adapt to modern society.

Meet James Schwartz (born 2/19/78), a Michigan native who grew up in an Old Order Amish community.

James is a gay poet and the author of "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (inGroup Press 2011). James tells his unique story through his poetry. It's raw, sexual, emotional and above all else it's very relatable. You can catch a glimmer of yourself in his words because everyone has felt "that way" at least once.Unbutton the shirt slowly
He might like that
The pants lie forgotten on his floor
I smell of the sea
I smell of showers
I smell of cologne
He might like that
Toothpaste and raspberry cocktails
Mingle in frantic kisses deep
Unbutton the shirt slowly
He likes that

from The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America

"What does a 21st century poet do, but to take it off!" James said while submitting me this pic of himself. Can you sense his rebellious behavior?

Here's another poem by James Schwartz:Rivers
Lay his hands upon my hardworking own.
Kiss my painted lips with a warrior's rue.
Entangled tongues, restless lungs, gasp, groan.
As mystery of history dawns true.
I loved him at first stare and first silence.
As mere minutes later he took me down.
Killing, filling with the sweetest violence.
Feeling the music though there was no sound.
Glazed eyes gazed amazed at praised flesh and bone.
Worshipful raptures wrapped in regal hush.
Going before God of Ganymedes' throne.
The rush of lust in spring forests lie lush.
In conquered land by embrace and in haste.
Revealed reveries and rivers to taste

For more information on James Schwartz and more poetry visit: you can follow James on Twitter at:

Question: What are your thoughts? What would you do if you were gay and Amish? Would you leave your family and friends to live the "gay life" openly? Or would you abide by the rules of the church and conceal who you are from your Amish community just to stay? I feel either way it's an extremely hard decision.
Please click on the blue comment link below to post your opinions.