#HappyBirthdayRuthEllis

The Literary Party Kindle eBook!

 

Need a summer read? I have recieved several queries (from Plain Rainbows) about my book of poetry, photos, essays & a short story "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America", published via inGroup Press a decade ago. 


EDGE MEDIA BOOK REVIEW:

With apologies to Max Weber and Margaret Mead, any armchair anthropologist or sociologist in North America worthy of cocktail party chatter will be able to explain the propensity of sub-groups and clans and tribes to gather into ever-tighter circles as the onslaught of cultural evolution broaches their sacred world-view. The Mormons did it in their westward trek in the 1840's, the Quakers, the Mennonites and the Jim Jones Temple folks and of course the Amish as well, all have their stories of hiding from the realities of the then-perceived world and its evils. The difficulty lays in the troubling fringe of each of these groups, how to control, guide, indoctrinate, and sublimate their individual members into compliance with group norms and expectations; Ross Douthat of the New York Times calls it the paranoia of the six-degrees of separation game. 


"The Literary Party: Growing up Gay and Amish in America" helps us to see into one of these uniquely American groups and the ways in which it builds tight walls of protection around their world-view by destroying the internally unacceptable. James Schwartz shares with us a view point that is at the same time unique, fascinating, real, and also horrifying, as a young gay man growing up in a traditional Amish farm family. His voice, and his story, which we are allowed to glimpse through his poetry, helps us to understand what it may be like for such a cloistered view of the world from the inside out.


Certainly every such group in American history has similarities, familiar trajectories, and expected time sequences: a coming-of-age story in any other setting, East Los Angeles, for example, or Bedford-Stuyvesant, or Salt Lake City, may stand on similar ground. What helps us appreciate the struggle of Schwartz' "Literary Party" is the rare insight that is current, fresh, and authentic. I am still upset at Tim Allen and Kirstie Allie for that horrible "For Richer or Poorer" (1997), and I also have to suggest that all of hip-hop and rap combined may not be as authentic as we wish it to be, at least in an anthropological sense. I am still waiting for the Langston Hughes of the twenty-first century, and I am not at all sure that even Martha Beck, with her brilliance, is an authentic Mormon voice either.


Conversely, Schwartz seems to have made the transition to the mainstream American cultural highway fairly easily: "In this time and at this rate/ the world prefers its assassins str8./ Heros for heteros to relate/ comfort for their grieving mate." Poetry is elastic, no matter which culture upon which it focuses nor from which it may be derived, and as a reader, my experience, world view, politics, religion, sexuality, age, and ethnicity all come to bear upon the machinations of my interpretation of any poetry, and in Schwartz' work I can reflect on not simply what he meant to say, but what the poetry is saying to me right now and right here. The inferred message is, an Amish gay man can speak to me and we can share some universality of human emotion and cross-cultural meaning, and succeed in making the world a little easier to deal with and a little easier to negotiate.


I am eager to see the maturation of this poet; in "The Pale City" ("From the pale city/ beside the sea/ I traveled once more home/ to the fields in hues of tea") helps us see the future of James Schwartz, an authentic American voice, and that uniquely individual voice as well. 

Available as a Kindle eBook!

8 Mile 4 Life

Plain Rainbows merch!

#PlainRainbows merch is here! Wear your Plain Pride! (*Amish Bishops may not approve*) 

Statement

 

Happy Pride to all the Plain Rainbows out there from Detroit! 

This has been an especially special Pride Month with the launch of our podcast "Plain Rainbows: LGBTQ Amish & Anabaptist Stories" with my co-host Mary Byler! 
This is the first time that LGBTQ Amish & Anabaptist issues have been discussed publicly, over 50 years since Stonewall so obviously overdue. 

There have been gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Anabaptist diaspora since its inception but until now we have been shunned and silenced, oppressed and persecuted. 

No more. 

Today we formally announce the birth of the Amish & Anabaptist LGBTQ rights movement. We hereby declare our collective solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mennonite and Plain communities and announce to the world: we are here and Plain and queer. 

We condemn the Old Order Amish Church and others in Anabaptist communities who continue to violate our human rights, silence us and separate families.

We condemn the ongoing physical, emotional, and sexual abuse perpetrated  daily in Amish and Anabaptist communities in America and around the world, unchecked. 

We call upon all the victims of abuse to directly contact law enforcement and bypass the Church. 

We call upon all Amish, Mennonite and Plain ministries to marry same-sex couples if requested to do so and to find a spiritual path to loving acceptance of us.

The Amish church-state today mirrors the Catholic church it once opposed. Instead of a beacon of freedom the Amish Church is a business and multi-million dollar tourism industry. 

The truth is the Old Order Amish could not be further from our forefathers' spiritual principles and ideals. 

As more and more of us leave the church to obtain our freedom, we individually hold a personal responsibility to those we have left behind in a fear-based, fundamentalist, spiritually barren environment held hostage by bishops and ministries playing God. 

No more.

Today we announce the #PlainRainbows movement to celebrate the authenticity of LGBTQ Amish and Anabaptist worldwide and our mission to uplift and support each other collectively against homophobia, hate, prejudice and ignorance.

Thank you for your support and thank you to all of our beautiful guests for stepping forward in our hour of need.

Happy Pride! 

-Rev. James Schwartz 

#Pride2021 Playlist 🏳️‍🌈


It is Pride weekend so here's a Pride playlist comprised of some songs from my clubbing days, some MI. artists etc. in no particular order. I loved manning the DJ booth on a slow night at The Zoo or Brothers, once and I will always love club music.


Crazy

Renegade

It Feels So Good

Stereo Love

Turn It Around

Smalltown Boy

Set You Free

Rise Up

Not Over Yet

10 Scared To Be Lonely

11 Just Be 

12 Put Your Hands Up For Detroit

13 Not Afraid

14 After the Love Has Gone 

15 Stay With Me Baby

16 God Control 

17 Amsterdam 

"Rain" A Short Film homage to #WSomersetMaugham


Plain Rainbows: Denver Pride 🏳️‍🌈

 


Thank you to my PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANABAPTIST STORIES co-host Mary Byler for reppin LGBTQ Amish at Denver Pride - HERSTORY made! We are here and we are Plain and queer! More pics at the Plain Rainbows FB Page

Chicago Review of Books: "Sweeter Voices Still" Review

Chicago Review of Books reviews Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology from Middle AmericaA Midwestern LGBTQIA+ Book a Day for Pride Month! There will also be a Pride Month virtual reading from the anthology June 23, which you can register for here!  

Good Cop/Bad Cop

 


The anthology from FlowerSong Press, GOOD COP/BAD COP is now available (includes poetry by yours truly)! Thank you FlowerSong Press for giving me a voice in this space for justice! 

"GOOD COP/BAD COP" ANTHOLOGY AUTHORS: 

TEZOZOMOC * JERRY ROBLEDO * CHUCK TAYLOR * MILTON JORDAN * MICHAEL ROTHENBERG * LINDA M. CRATE * EMILY SHEARER * ERNIE BRILL * MARK ANDREW HEATHCOTE * GERARD SARNAT * DAVID SALNER * JACK E LORTS * STALINA EMMANUELLE VILLAREAL * BRANDON NISBET * JOHN C KRIEG * BOB McNEIL * JEFF CANNON * RYAN HAVELY * VANESSA CARAVEO * BRANDON JACKSON * CHRISTIAN GARDUNO * GABRIEL GONZÁLEZ NΓšΓ‘EZ * DAVE RENDLE * CRYSTAL GARCIA * KAREN CLINE-TARDIFF * NDABA SIBANDA * CONNOR ORRICO * EL DAVID * DANIEL GARCÍA ORDAZ * NANCY SHIFFRIN * MARK ESPERANZA * M. GERLEMAN * MEGHA SOOD * MARK LIPMAN * JONATHAN FLETCHER * MARTINA GALLEGOS * HABIB ABODUNRIN ZAKARI * MICHAEL BRAUTIGAN * THOMAS FUCALORO * BONNIE PRICE * EMENIKE CHRISTIAN CHIJIOKE * JON C. MANNONE * JASON D. SΓ–DERBLOM * AMERICA GARCIA * DAVID ROMERO * JAMES SCHWARTZ * CATHARINE BATSIOS * LAURIE KUNTZ * JAMES CROAL JACKSON * PEGGY LANDSMAN * NICK MAYNARD * RONALD K. CRAIG * JEFF KNORR * MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI * ALLAN LAKE * JOEL H. VEGA * DAWN CORRIGAN * TAOFEEK AYEYEMI *ANDREA BLANCAS BELTRAN * GIANA HESTERBERG * JONATHAN ROWE * EMMANUEL IKUOVE * JEANIE SANDERS * ALAN PERRY * CHINEDU VINCENT OKORO * IMOGEN ARATE * DaRELL PITTMAN * D.L. LANG * DAVID MILLS * TRICIA KNOLL * ZACK RITTER * ROD CARLOS RODRIGUEZ * JO REYES-BOITEL * TAMMY M. GOMEZ * SONIA BEAUCHAMP * LUCINDA MARSHALL *IRIS DE ANDA * RÁUL SÁNCHEZ * HECTOR SON OF HECTOR * YOLANDA SEALEY-RUIZ * ROBIN CARSTENSEN * JUAN M. PΓ‰REZ *  KENDRA NUTTALL * JIM LaVILLA HAVELIN * TOM MURPHY * DIMITRI REYES * CHRIS BILLINGS * LORRAINE GARNETT * CHIDIEBUBE ONYE OKOHIA * KATHLEEN MURPHEY * LISA BRAXTON * MIKE EKUNNO * DR. NANDINI BHATTACHARYA *  IWUAGWU IKECHUKWU * SARA WHITESTONE * KASAK JAIN * ROGER COLLINS * BEN FINE * MARK VASQUEZ * ERIKA E. GARZA 

Plain Rainbows: Kicking Off Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈


Happy Pride Month everyone! If you missed our season premiere, "Kicking Off Pride Month", you can watch it on YouTube (above) or on the Plain Rainbows FB Page

We would like to take a moment and thank all the Plain Rainbows out there for supporting the podcast and our fabulous guests for sharing their stories and wisdom and showing us there is life beyond the Amish / Mennonite / Anabaptist closet!  

Happy Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

Promo Art: BJK 

"KICKING OFF PRIDE MONTH" 

Happy Pride Month!! I am looking forward to the PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANABAPTIST STORIES premiere via FB & YouTube

My co-host Mary Byler and I are bringing you weekly episodes through Pride Month with a season of special guests discussing LGBT Amish and Anabaptist issues! 

Consider making a donation here. Mary Byler spends time and resources in her Amish  advocacy work and the LGBTQ Amish podcast would not be possible without her (thank you on behalf of us all, Mary)! 

A few #PlainRainbows highlights thus far: 

GROWING UP GAY & MENNONITE (TRAILER)

CONVERSATIONS PODCAST

INTRODUCTION TO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE & HOW TO BE AN ALLY!

Conversations on 1946


"Good Cop/Bad Cop" Anthology

 

 

The GOOD COP/BAD COP anthology is now available, click here & here

Amish Abuse Awareness



Important conversations on abuse within the Amish and Plain communities are taking place on several podcasts including THE PLAIN PEOPLE'S PODCASTTHE AMISH MISFIT. We also have a conversation on abuse within Plain communities on a forthcoming episode of the #PlainRainbows podcast. 

Please consider buying merch or making a donation to support! 

Attendees at the recent Amish Abuse Awareness conference included The Plain People's Podcast and Plain Rainbows! 

Photo credit: The Misfit Amish LLC 

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

I came across the (above) film on writer Gore Vidal which speaks to our present as well. Having read a few of his novels and many of his essays, I am still Team Capote but anyone who wishes to understand American politics should certainly read Vidal!

Spring Sale 🌼

 

Spring sale! Including SWEETER VOICES STILL: AN LGBTQ ANTHOLOGY FROM MIDDLE AMERICA from Belt Publishing!  

A groundbreaking nonfiction collection about queer life in the Midwest.

The middle of America—the Midwest, Appalachia, the Rust Belt, the Great Plains, the Upper South—is a queer place, and it always has been. The queer people of its cities, farms, and suburbs do not exist only to serve as “blue dots” within “red states.” Every story about a kid from Iowa who steps off the bus in Manhattan, ready to “finally” live, is a story about a kid who was already living in Iowa. Sweeter Voices Still is about that kid and has been written by people like them. This collection features queer voices you might recognize—established and successful writers and thinkers—and others you might not—people who don’t think of themselves as writers at all. You’ll find sex, love, and heartbreak and all the beings we meet along the way: trees, deer, cicadas, sturgeon. Most of all, you'll find real people. 

If you're seeking fully realized stories about the nuanced, joyous complexity of queer identity in the Midwest, Sweeter Voices Still is the book for you.

AHF Ambassadorship

At the 3rd annual Amish Heritage Foundation (virtual conference)


Are you of Amish heritage and an artist? 

It was an honor to serve as the first Artist Ambassador for the AMISH HERITAGE FOUNDATION. During the 3 month progam I gave a talk on LGBTQ Amish issues for AHF's 3rd annual (virtual) conference.

This gave me an oppurtinity to address LGBTQ+ Amish issues in an academic space for which I am grateful. Thank you TORAH BONTRAGER and to Lars for participating. I remain a supporter moving forward, now accepting applicants for new Artist Ambassadors, see AmishHeritage.org for details! 

Check out the podcast below for more on AHF and Torah Bontrager's writing tips!  

The Forbidden Apple Podcast: Affirming LGBTQ youth with Ross Murray

Ross Murray from GLAAD, Yass, Jesus! podcast and the Naming Project is back on the pod! His new book ”Made, Known, Loved” shows congregations how to create a program that affirms LGBTQ youth. How can we transform religious spaces into more welcoming environments and guide future leaders? 

#🍎: #NationalPoetryMonth






Hello / goodbye #NationalPoetryMonth! 

I have teamed up with THE FORBIDDEN APPLE PODCAST to celebrate! Above: "Satan's Inches" was originally published in "Michiana's Rainbow Gazzette" (2007) & below: "Slundered" from "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (2011). 

Featured Post

Happy Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

Promo Art: BJK  "KICKING OFF PRIDE MONTH"  Happy Pride Month!! I am looking forward to the  PLAIN RAINBOWS: LGBTQ AMISH & ANA...