James Schwartz, author of The Literary Party: Growing up Gay and Amish in America, discusses coming out gay while still in the Amish church, his unconventional Amish education and current politics. He and his southern Michigan Amish classmates were bussed into the nearest public school to attend classes from kindergarten to eighth grade where they received curriculums different from their “English” (i.e., non-Amish) fellow students. James had a library card and rode his bicycle to the local library where he enjoyed unsupervised time and learned things about himself and the outside world that he would’t have had access to otherwise. After James left the church, he was able to transition into the English world through the help of the gay community. He went to gay clubs and began to write poetry. James believes that people who leave the Amish community need to have more resources in order to help them transition into the modern world, and that those resources should be accessible without at the expense of being sold on a new fundamentalist religion.
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