The Allegheny Starlight

Tagline: There's an ordinary world, somehow, you have to find.

Genre: Drama


Zeph grows up in a loving but stifling Amish family. He is a gifted student, but his education is stopped after eighth grade, per Amish custom. When he realizes his sexual orientation isn't developing normally, he researches abnormal psychology at the public library. Believing that marriage is the only viable therapy, he marries at 19 and remains resolutely faithful to his wife for 11 years. Turning 30, however, triggers a series of questions that have a domino effect on his faith, and one Sunday, while driving the buggy to church, he abruptly realizes he no longer believes. He tries to talk Amos, his best friend since elementary school and also closeted, into leaving the Amish community with him, but Amos can't leave the responsibility of his wife and children. Zeph, who turned out to be sterile and could father no children, cannot continue living a false life and reluctantly leaves the community on his own.

He takes a job at a nearby non-Amish farm, where he studies for the GED and SAT, and then attends a university in Philadelphia. While a student, he changes majors numerous times, finally settling on computer graphics, and tries to fit into the gay community in Philadelphia despite his shyness and social backwardness. Even though he graduates with high honors, his job search drags on for a couple of years after college and he begins to visualize beating up or shooting smug interviewers—surprising himself with this eruption of violent mental images. Finally, at 40, Zeph is given his first break at a computer-game studio in Los Angeles, and he is confronted with an even more alien landscape into which he has to somehow fit.

Author: John Garvey