Sufjan Stevens is an indie musician most famous for his “50 States Project” and the 2005 album Illinoise featuring the song “Chicago.” Unfortunately for Sufjan Stevens, people start wondering about the sexuality of a hot, sensitive young singer songwriter who wears angel wings at live shows on tour and who doesn’t seem to have a girlfriend or be dating publicly. So is Sufjan Stevens gay? Married? Christian?
Is Sufjan Stevens Christian? Sufjan Stevens studied as an undergraduate at a Christian school, Hope College in Holland, Michigan. In a 2005 interview, Sufjan Stevens acknowledged his Christian religion, saying that he attends “a kind of Anglo-Catholic church.” Sufjan Stevens' views on faith and doubt & more Christian music like Sufjan Stevens.
Sufjan Stevens doesn’t give many official interviews, but in a way he doesn’t have to, as his song lyrics can often speak for themselves. Besides Sufjan Stevens announcing his Christianity officially in an interview, many of Stevens’ lyrics are very overtly religious, especially those from Seven Swans, which almost works as a Christian rock album. On “The Transfiguration,” Stevens directly references the Biblical Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ’s Transfiguration on the Mount. In the lyrics to “Abraham,” Stevens again almost literally sings about the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Old Testament of the Bible: “Abraham, put off on your son. Take instead the ram, until Jesus comes.” With obviously religious lyrics like these, Sufjan Stevens doesn’t have to come out and say that he’s Christian.
While Sufjan Stevens might not have to announce that he’s Christian, there are a lot of rumors circulating about whether Stevens is gay, straight, or at least bisexual. Oddly enough, some of Sufjan Stevens’ lyrics have actually added to the whole gay debate. Songs like “The Dress Looks Nice on You” read as heterosexual because he is obviously singing to a woman. However, on the Illinoise song “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us” or “Futile Devices” from Age of Adz, the gender of the person Sufjan is professing his love for appears to be male, causing some people to wonder exactly what kind of "love" he is talking about.
Some of these critics have also pointed out the Seven Swans song “To Be Alone With You” as possibly having a hidden gay meaning, but in my opinion this song is a perfect example about how easy it is to misinterpret song lyrics. “You gave up a wife and a family…to be alone with me,” Sufjan sings, finishing, “I’ve never known a man who loved me.” On the surface, these lyrics seem like they might be talking about a gay relationship with a man, but let’s not forget: Sufjan Stevens is a devout Christian. After analysis, lines like “You went up on a tree” are pretty clear indicators that Sufjan Stevens is not talking about being gay here, but about being a Christian.
Just as it is impossible to find an interview with Sufjan Stevens setting the record straight on whether or not he is gay, it is also hard to get official word on whether he is married or seriously dating anyone. To put it bluntly, some lyrics from Age of Adz sound like they were written from a very lonely and depressed place. On “I Want to Be Well,” Sufjan, who has publicly acknowledged that he has suffered from depression, sings about being “isolated” and basically on the brink of insanity or “death.” This is just an opinion, but I don’t think people usually give voice to these kinds of thoughts when they’re in a committed, healthy relationship--gay, straight, married or otherwise.
So who is Sufjan Stevens? When it comes to whether Sufjan Stevens is gay, married, straight, bisexual, depressed, Christian, or whatever, Sufjan Stevens probably said it best with the 2005 interview quote above. Although Stevens is speaking in reference to religion in this particular quote, his statement can really apply to any minority. To me, this quote also seems to answer the question as to whether Sufjan Stevens is "anti gay." We don't need to label Sufjan or his music. The music speaks for itself (most of the time). Next up: Is Deerhunter's Bradford Cox Gay?
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