Follow TV Tropes


Ho Yay / Sufjan Stevens

Go To

The songs by American indie musician Sufjan Stevens have quite a bit of homoerotic subtext (and, occasionally, plain text).

  • "Futile Devices" is a gentle ballad addressed to a male object of affection; the chances of it being a Friendship Song are slim, especially now that it has been used in the soundtrack of Call Me by Your Name.
  • "All for Myself": the narrator and his presumed significant other both have hairy chests—and the latter is referred to as a "boy"—so it's safe to say the song is not about a heterosexual relationship.
  • Some of the faith-themed songs, while clearly about Jesus or God, can also come across as expressions of romantic longing:
    • "To be Alone with You" (I've never known a man who loved me).
    • "Vito's Ordination Song" (Rest in my arms, sleep in my bed...).
    • "America" (I have kissed your lips like a Judas in heat).
  • "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades" is frequently cited as an example, with good reason: the narrator sings about kissing his male best friend, going into the backseat of a car, and the chorus chants "we were in love, we were in love...." It’s still a source of debate, however, as Sufjan has tended to focus on the song's insect imagery—based on a childhood incident when he and a friend imagined they were being chased by a giant wasp—rather than its more personal content when discussing it in concerts and interviews. (This in itself isn't exactly surprising, as Sufjan has avoided public discussion of his personal life throughout his career.)
  • "Drawn to the Blood", about an abusive romance with a man (the strength of his arm / my lover caught me off-guard), is a dark and sad example of this. (In an interview, Stevens confirmed that the song is autobiographical).
    • The song directly preceding it on Carrie & Lowell, "All of Me Wants all of You", describes the distant, neglectful lover as resembling Poseidon.
  • "John My Beloved" is simultaneously a) about the relationship between John and Jesus and b) about a hookup at a bar, almost certainly with another man.
  • "The Owl and the Tanager" reads like a description of a romantic/sexual relationship between two teenage boys, one of whom "cheats" the other. (The original iteration of the song makes it clear that both the title characters are male, but the version that made it onto the All Delighted People EP is a tiny bit more gender-ambiguous).
  • "Jason" could probably make the list as well. The lyrics sound like they're from the perspective of a scorned ex, and Jason is far more likely to be a boy's name than a girl's. Many people though will try to frame it in the context of a narrative centering on the eponymous hero from Greek mythology. It's difficult to call either way.
  • Advertisement:
  • Silly Love Song "Holland", off Michigan, is gender-neutral, but the short story that accompanies it isn't:
    We mowed lawns and stole flags from construction sites and kissed on the lips at the drinking fountain… [...] We went around shirtless, even the skinny ones, even the fat ones, even the ones with terrific arms and shoulders.
  • Even if you don't know that "Kill" is based on a Sherwood Anderson story about repressed homosexuality ("The Man Who Became a Woman"), it definitely gives off...vibes:
    He took the stable, bred me to be a mare.
  • The Animated Music Video for "The Greatest Gift" has a homoerotic tinge of baptism to it.
  • If the fact that they were written specifically for Call Me by Your Name isn't enough of an indication, "Mystery of Love" and "Visions of Gideon" both have some pretty obviously homoerotic lyrics as well (including a Name Drop reference to "Alexander's lover," Hephaestion).
  • Though the lyrics never use any gendered pronouns or descriptors, it's safe to assume from the rainbow album art, the deliberately Pride-adjacent release, and the general theme of self-acceptance that both "Love Yourself" and "With My Whole Heart" are meant to be read this way.
  • This is certainly a possible interpretation of the "My Rajneesh" lines "I lit a fire and drank off the breath of his kiss / My tambourine affirmed by the dance of his wrist."
  • "Gilgamesh" is obviously inspired by the famous epic, and more specifically seems to center on the hero's grief following the death of his male companion, Enkidu. The relationship between these characters in the source material has long been noted for its homoeroticism, and Sufjan leans fully into that implication with lines like "My love, my dream, make love to me" and "my heart is chained to thee, my angel".

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: