Saturday, August 15, 2020

Aaron: Amish and Gay

Today's BOOK OF THE DAY, "Aaron: Amish and Gay," by H. Milo Yoder, brings you into the life and culture of the Amish. It is an amazing account by Yoder and I strongly recommend it.

Aaron: Amish and Gay Kindle Edition
by H. Milo Yoder  (Author) 

Aaron, a 33-year-old single Amish man, tells us about his painful journey as he is “outed” when his brother accidentally discovers a pencil sketch Aaron drew of two mature men in an intimate moment. Aaron deals with his own emotions as well as his immediate family’s reactions, and soon afterward, the preachers from his church, including the presiding bishop, give the young man a list of rules to live by if he wants to remain Amish. As his inclusion in the Amish community is threatened, he begins to find inner resources through the help of a therapist. He pushes doggedly through the strict restrictions of his faith and acceptance of his yearning for the intimacy of another man. Sheltered from any contact with homosexuals all through his youth, Aaron now tries to maintain his faith in what he has been taught and constantly struggles with what he sees as the loose morals of any gay men he gets into contact with. The way to true love is never easy, and for a gay Amish man to find a partner who shares his values seems to be an impossible task. Can Aaron navigate the pressures from the outside world to abandon his values and faith while trying to maintain a tenuous relationship with his family and the Amish community?” The enigmatic mystique of Amish Aaron being excommunicated and yet living the life of an Amish person is disturbingly fascinating.”

Book Reviews

Amish have been fascinating the non-Amish for generations. The beautiful farms, the hardworking men, the plain and simple yet sought after “Amish food” the women create and of course the cute kids who dress like miniature adults in their whimsical costumes is the community the “world” sees. “Aaron, Amish and Gay” uncovers layers of hierarchal authority, patriarchal rule, and the extremely strict and unbending attitude towards any of their community who strays outside the rigid rules of the church. So Aaron tells us in the first person and in his own words, sometimes with his poetry, about the journey of coming to terms with his sexual orientation. Don’t expect a lot of sexy scenes, for this story goes much deeper than what many straight people call the “gay lifestyle.” The story immediately uncovers the deep desire everyone has for a deeper connection with someone… or something. The author gives a lot of information many do not know about the Amish and then delves right into the huge conflict Aaron faces of being gay. The struggle is real as Aaron tries to hang on to the only world he knows. Amish. It’s not always easy to read his heart-wrenching struggle to be secure in his own heart, and yet there are enough funny moments to keep it from getting too dark. It’s a captivating read, and I read it chapter after chapter, night after night until I finished it. Hey! I think this is the first of a series! Can’t wait to read the next one.

Mr. Yoder has spoken for many of us who have been raised in very strict religious families. The issues his character struggled with are the same many of us have faced. His journey of discovery and self-acceptance is well written and very eye-opening. This manuscript appears to be an editor’s draft and could have been better formatted. Quite often, the reader is flung inexplicably from one scenario to another.

I am neither Amish nor gay, but found myself completely transfixed by Aaron. Aaron’s journey is a coming out story, but more than that, it’s a catalog of ‘otherness.’ The book is an unflinching examination of the differences that emerge in homogeneous groups. Any person marginalized amongst their own social sphere will immediately understand Aaron’s affliction, his own self-awareness plagues him. If only he wasn’t different than those around him. If only he wasn’t attracted to that handsome photographer. If only he hadn’t woken up to the real version of himself. But he did, and because of it, we have this fine book.

Yoder takes a simple story and sharpens it with a fantastic lead character whose complexities seem boundless. Particularly engaging was Aaron’s wrestling with his faith amongst his queer-ness. There’s a deeper message about how religion is used as a wedge to separate us, as opposed to a ball of twine holding us together. Yoder instinctively keeps the reader inside Aaron’s journey, never letting him have an easy way to understanding himself, nor making his pathway toward acceptance too easy.

Aaron is at its heart, a love story. He must learn to love himself despite an intolerant world. It’s simple, but profound and extraordinarily resonates. Also, it’s got a lot of horses. Who doesn’t love horses?

Product Details

·  File Size: 1515 KB
·  Print Length: 265 pages
·  Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
·  Publication Date: July 24, 2020
·  Sold by: Services LLC
·  Language: English


Gay and Amish. Being Amish did not keep me from knowing I was gay even before I was a teenager. I didn’t know anyone else was gay until perhaps around 15. But of course, I stayed deep in the closet for Amish just don’t do gay! Did no one else notice I was really good at flower arrangements, spent a lot of time studying non-Amish styles in the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs? Or that I was way more interested in reading books than in working on the dairy farm? I ran away from home and joined my married brother’s community in a Car Amish church. Such freedom! But really, there were almost as many rules in this church as in my Amish church but we were allowed to drive cars, if they were painted black! You get the idea. I married a woman when I was 22, and we raised five kids together, I taught for more than 20 years in Car Amish parochial schools. I began traveling globally to interview people for the 20 some published biographies sponsered by, you guessed it, Car Amish/Mennonite people. After 38 years of marriage, we had left the Amish/Mennonite circles, and as empty nesters, my wife decided she wanted out of our marriage. Scandalous in our circles and to save my marriage and keep my family intact, I decided to “confess” my attraction for men. “Never suspicioned it once. But that’s not why I am leaving you.” Her words put my world in a downspin for not only was my life as an Amish man no longer intact; now, the world was finding out I was gay as well. Heartbroken, I watched as my immediate family spiraled downwards as I came out to my children and sibling. Thankfully I still have a close family I can visit seven years later. My writing career ended, I moved across the country from NC to southern CA, where I now live, and in 2019 when I was 67. I began writing my first novel, loosely based on my and other Plain People’s experiences coming out gay. Aaron took on a life of his own and guided me through the complexities all gay people feel coming out of religious/cult circles. From Amish to Uber, I say because I drive for the ride-share company part-time and gather a lot more information for my next books.