Who gives a damn if Sufjan Stevens is gay? part 3

I spent an hour yesterday to comb through Sufjan Stevens’ songs to see if there’s any homoerotic elements lurking aside from the now-infamous “I am really just like John Wayne Gacy” bit, and to my surprise, I found, like, a gazillion.


  • “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!” – Oh, I am fast in bed / … / Oh, how I meant to tease him / Oh, how I meant no harm / Touching his back with my hand, I kiss him / … / He was my best friend / into the car, from the backseat / … / I can tell you, I love him each day / though we have sparred, wrestled and raged
  • “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts” – Only a real man can be a lover / If he had hands to lend us all over / We celebrate our sense of each other / We have a lot to give one another
  • “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” – And in my best behavior / I am really just like him / Look beneath the floor boards / For the secrets I have hid (note: John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was an Chicago-area pederast who raped and killed at least thirty-three boys.)
  • “Come on! Feel the Illinoise!” – I cried myself to sleep last night / and the ghost of Carl, he approached my window
  • “The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders” – Carpenter and Soldier, one on one


  • “Holland” – All the time we spent in bed / … / Fall in love and fall apart / … / Lose our clothes in summertime (note: I think I read somewhere that Sufjan went to some sort of a boarding school in Holland, Michigan)
  • “Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)” – Oh God, hold me now / Oh Lord, touch me now
  • “For the Widows in Paradise; For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” – I have called you preacher, I have called you son / I’ll do anything for you, I’ll do anything for you

Seven Swans

  • “Size Too Small” – And I still like you, the best man / … / Everything rises, going at it all / All the surprises in a size too small / And what if I told you / I was still in love with this?
  • “He Woke Me Up Again” – He came, he came to my bedroom / but I was asleep / He woke me up again to say
  • “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” – She was once like me / … / Someone’s left me creased

Non album track

  • “To Be Alone With You” – I’d give my body to be back again / … / To be alone with me you went up on the tree / I’ll never know the man who loved me

Sufjan has got to be asking for gay rumors.

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20 Responses to Who gives a damn if Sufjan Stevens is gay? part 3

  1. Sean says:

    Some of the masculine pronouns in the song lyrics you cite refer to God, not male lovers. Also, the “ghost of Carl” line refers to the famous poet and Illinois resident Carl Sandburg.

    One big one you missed: The song “Jason” from his first album “A Sun Came” seems to be about a bitter break-up. The chorus repeats “Jason, you’re the only one.”

  2. dan says:

    And the song “Kill” off of “A Sun Came” also seems to be about a bitter break-up with a man… only this time, he’s really angry. Enough to kill, apparently. Anyways, check it out.

  3. Hammond says:

    You missed a big one. Casimir Pulaski Day on Illinoise. He never references his friend as a female. “All the glory that the lord has made, and the complications you could do without, when I kissed you on the mouth.” And on and on.

  4. dan says:


    Yeah, except that there’s a line that says “and I almost touched your blouse,” and men’s shirts are never referred to as blouses.

  5. Kris says:

    In “To Be Alone with you” you forget the very obvious line, “you gave up a wife & a family”…

  6. Reid says:

    “To Be Alone With You” is a song about Jesus, folks

  7. Mike Kelly says:

    I don’t think that anyone claiming that they ‘know’ what his lyrics are ‘about’ really understands what an artist is creating their art for.

    A metaphor means whatever it means to you, it cannot be wrong or right. It just is. If you’re confused by the question of whether he is or is not gay – maybe that’s because he wants you to be 🙂

  8. tony says:

    men do wear blouse, i mean, isn’t there something called “military blouse”? and he did mention “navy yard”…

    and besides whats wrong with “your father” getting all fussed up about “what we did that night”, is it because of something…well, perverted happened?

    dont take me serious dammit

  9. Steven says:

    Folks, Sufjan does indeed love a ‘man’ — and it’s pretty clear that man is Jesus Christ. Almost all his supposedly ‘homoerotic’ references are to Jesus. It’s a known fact Sufjan is a practising Chrisitan, which probably makes it unlikely that he is gay. Not that it matters either way. The man is a remarkable musician and human being. Full stop.

  10. Clara Engel says:

    It’s a known fact Sufjan is a practising Chrisitan, which probably makes it unlikely that he is gay.

    ARE YOU KIDDING!?!? Aside from the fact that the Catholic church is run by a lot of men in dresses who like fondling boys, there are a lot of gay Christians in the world AND if you know anything about songwriting,poetry, etc etc he is using metaphor, symbolism, double meanings, etc — why can’t he love Christ AND love a man at the same time? it’s all there. harder to find evidence of his heterosexuality in his songs i bet. he’s too cute to be straight anyway. hello, cheerleading outfits on stage? he’s about as straight as morrissey.

  11. Sam says:

    Sufjan went to Hope College in Holland, MI…hardly a boarding school. Also, there is no mention of the song “Casimir Pulaski Day in which he describes his interaction with a girlfriend, who ends up dying. I do not think he is gay and if he is oh well.

  12. Chelsea says:

    Though I do agree that Sufjan is most likely gay, I don’t agree with a lot of the lyrics you pulled out as references to homosexuality. A lot of them have a much deeper meaning, and I’ve personally interpreted them much differently.

  13. Mark says:

    For the Widows in Paradise is sung from the point of view of Jesus. And as for Man of Metropolis, Sufjan isn’t the one singing those lines. As for the ghost of Carl Sandburg approaching his window, that is in no way gay. Carl Sandburg was a poet, not a gay stripper or anything like that.
    In Holland, Sufjan wouldn’t have been in boarding school during the summertime, so way to think that through.
    In Oh God Where Are You Now?, that’s not gay, it’s spiritual.

    As for the rest of your “incriminating” lyrics, there’s no homosexual context behind them. You’re just an idiot.

  14. Ben says:

    the song casimir pulaski day raelly can’t be used for evidence for either side of the argument as the gender of the person who he’s singing about is still at question. glad im not the only one who’s asked this question before.

  15. Anonymous says:

    wow what an incredible misinterpretation of so many lyrics

  16. bp says:

    and let’s not forget that having ‘secrets’ doesn’t necessarily mean he’s closeted–therefore, his self-comparison with j.w. gacy probably doesn’t literally mean ‘i’m a homocidal maniac’ (though i guess only time will tell…).

    so, my answer to the recurring ‘who gives a damn…’ has nothing to do with to be gay or not to be, but rather: wtfuck happened to songs being treated as art? and i’m not even being post-mod relativistic here…just saying that someone with a fiction degree from the New School (Sufjan), may or may not be referring to himself every time he says the word ‘I.’ if i’m wrong about this, then i suppose he is gay…but also, that KISS still wants to rock and roll all night and that Ian Brown is indeed the Resurrection.

  17. brainiac-dumdum says:

    I think For the Widows in Paradise is about the Iraq war

  18. The Believer says:

    Thank you all for your ridiculous argument, I enjoyed reading this so much.

  19. Carinthia says:

    Looks like you’re taking Sufjan’s lyrics too literally. He’s a writer, you know that, right? So he weaves a lot of themes into his music — AKA being “like John Wayne Gacy” is probably more about how Mr. Gacy seemed so harmless on the outside, so normal. He sings most of his songs in the first person but a lot of them aren’t from his point of view.

    I also think that he purposefully keeps his sexual orientation a mystery to the public to show how little he cares about falling into labels. Kind of saying, “call me gay, call me straight, I don’t care. I’m who I am.”

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