"We just live our lives."
January 11, 2020 2:32 PM   Subscribe

COUNTRY QUEERS : a multimedia oral history project documenting the diverse experiences of rural and small town LGBTQIA folks in the U.S.A.
"...it took me a long time to get here, as I’m sure it does for many people, of melding, or finding the balance, or – marriage [laughs] – between those two things. Because they’re not always something that we’re taught or told or validated, that they can co-exist. And they can." –Twig Delujé (31), Pecos, NM

"I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leaving, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with staying. I think you just have to be happy...But if you’re trying to be a farmer than you need to stay, you need to stay home!" –Elandria (34), Knoxville/Powell, TN

“From all the research that I’ve done in terms of two spirit people in reservation communities and all the different elders that I’ve talked to – who are very traditional – I’ve come to make the determination that culturally – that behavior was accepted within the community, because they had a function. There was a spiritual function, there was a community function, and there’s a lot of what we talk about that: we don’t disown our people, we don’t disown our families, and everybody has a purpose…are some of the basic teachings that we have within our culture." –Crisosto Apache (42), New Mexico/Colorado

"They’ve accepted me cause they had to. I came here, I bought a house, I stayed...And I worked with men, and they accepted me, they taught me. It’s your attitude too, you gotta be careful of your attitude. You can’t make anybody you know, like I said, I’m gay kiss my buns, you know there’s no way you can do that...you can’t flaunt, do not flaunt, that’s the worst thing you can do, cause that gets everybody, even those that aren’t rednecks…it upsets everybody." –Frances (78), Western Mass

“I think there’s a lot of pressure that people think that they can’t be queer and country. They think that they have to go to the bigger cities where there’s a bigger community and able to fit in, and they think, and along with moving to a city, for anyone, it kind of puts pressure on you to like shed your former identity, like country and Appalachian included, to like kind of fit-in in the city, because there’s like a certain type of person in whatever city. So there’s a lot of pressure to kinda change your ways and adapt to this new lifestyle, but you totally don’t have to.

Like even in my situation where I kinda like had to go to a city for other reasons, it was still hard to keep it in check, and to make sure that I was staying current with issues at home, and making sure that I was proud, at all times of being a country queer, both of those, separate and together. But, yeah, I think that it’s just important to remember who you are and where you came from, and not to change for anybody, except yourself if you want to.” –Kenny (21), Southwest, Virginia

"There is a widely held belief in the U.S. that in order to be queer you have to live in a city. That being queer and being country cannot coexist. That the country is not safe for queer folks, and that those of us who live in rural areas will never be able to survive, much less thrive. That we are crazy for trying.
I want to hear their stories. I want to know how they struggle, and what they want to change in their communities. I want to find older role models for myself and other young queers living in the country. I want to hear about the radical and brave work that young queers are doing in their communities and schools. I want to hear the painful stories, the awful stories, to acknowledge that it is not always safe, that being queer in this country sometimes comes with threats, with violence, with death. I want to know if there are joys and struggles that all rural and small town LGBTQ folks share. I want to know about how experiences of being queer and being rural differ based on race, class, gender identity, nationality, language, ability, and other parts of our identities. I want isolated queer folks living in rural places to know that there are others out there, all over this country. I want to know what country queers think needs to change, so that the option of being queer and staying in the country could become easier. I want proof that country queers can survive. That we can thrive. -Rachel Garringer, founder of COUNTRY QUEERS
posted by youarenothere (6 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
RFD Magazine has been in production quarterly since 1974. It's a reader-written magazine for the rural-living gay man. It's aimed largely at people who find affinity with the Radical Faerie movement, which was started by Harry Hay who also founded the Mattachine Society. It is a wonderful resource for queer folk living close to the land, in small towns, trying to find beauty and solace in life as they live with being queer within their setting. They have back-issues available to read online going back to 2012. I'm glad to add this resource to this post, because it fits very well.
posted by hippybear at 2:44 PM on January 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Oh neat, looking forward to reading these in details. Like Hippybear says RFD is also a great and treasured resource. A little more risque I just read this story about TruckSlutsMag (NSFWish) which is some pretty great culture reappropriation to benefit rural queer culture.
posted by Nelson at 2:56 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Always had a special place in my heart for Radical Faeries; even just momentarily browsing the early covers of RFD is invigorating and am thrilled to learn I can read issues online. Thank you so much, hippybear.

On preview: fuck yeah all these country queer links rule!! I was informed of TrucksSlutMag recently when someone was kind enough to say that I zine I made long ago reminded them of it. Worth quoting from the Autostraddle article: "There are gay rednecks, there have always been gay rednecks, and there always will be too."

Since we're broadening the scope of the post, I came across this book published in 2016: Queering the Countryside: New Frontiers in Rural Queer Studies. From the publisher's (NYU Press) website:
Rural queer experience is often hidden or ignored, and presumed to be alienating, lacking, and incomplete without connections to a gay culture that exists in an urban elsewhere. Queering the Countryside offers the first comprehensive look at queer desires found in rural America from a genuinely multi-disciplinary perspective. This collection of original essays confronts the assumption that queer desires depend upon urban life for meaning.

By considering rural queer life, the contributors challenge readers to explore queer experiences in ways that give greater context and texture to modern practices of identity formation. The book’s focus on understudied rural spaces throws into relief the overemphasis of urban locations and structures in the current political and theoretical work on queer sexualities and genders. Queering the Countryside highlights the need to rethink notions of “the closet” and “coming out” and the characterizations of non-urban sexualities and genders as “isolated” and in need of “outreach.” Contributors focus on a range of topics—some obvious, some delightfully unexpected—from the legacy of Matthew Shepard, to how heterosexuality is reproduced at the 4-H Club, to a look at sexual encounters at a truck stop, to a queer reading of The Wizard of Oz.

A journey into an unexplored slice of life in rural America, Queering the Countryside offers a unique perspective on queer experience in the modern United States and Canada.
Emphasis mine because YES, although I should note I have not read the book; here is a somewhat critical review for additional context.
posted by youarenothere at 3:11 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd like to highlight the Links page on the linked website. It has some great content, and is perhaps a place where other rural queers can find a place to develop a market or audience. I don't know what goes in to getting on that page, but even what is listed there already is great.
posted by hippybear at 4:26 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

we don’t disown our people, we don’t disown our families, and everybody has a purpose
is being dust in here
posted by away for regrooving at 12:07 AM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

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