I have been writing for several years now about my predicament of being both queer and rural. On one hand, I love living where I do. There is not a thirty mile commute to work in gridlock traffic. I rarely have to wait in line for more than ten minutes to buy anything. And there is the endless wonder of the landscape in all four season. Yesterday, I watched a four point stag pursue a doe through the neighborhood oblivious to cars, people, or front lawns.
On the other hand, it gets very lonely. I am the only out gay male in my department at a school of 12,000 students. My university doesn’t have an LGBTQI organizaion, it settles for a Gay-Straight Alliance. And if I want to go out dancing with other men, then I better be prepared for a ninety mile drive north on a two lane road without shoulders. But this isn’t a post about my desire to dance and cruise other men.
It is getting dark earlier every day and I am anticipating more and more snow. The weather and the landscape are resuming their annual emphasis on bareness and deprivation. I can’t help but also reflect on the lack of like-minded queers here. There is no one I can call up and meet for a latte and a gripe session about how every event here is at least 60% or more ally attended. The events feel more queer friendly than queer once LGBTQ folks become the minority. But I wonder if I would be any better off in a larger city?
Two Idaho folks have given me this article because they know that I am gay and a poet. The subject matter is relevant, but the content is not. I have never been beautiful/fit/fashionable enough to feel like I belonged in mainstream gay (therefore urban) culture. The elitism and privilege that oozes from every part of this article is appalling.
Idaho folks, please do not think of me like this.
So I struggle. I wrestle with what it means to be a radical minded queer in a rural environment. The internet helps, but it cannot become the entirety of my culture. No amount of reading of blogs and books will stand in for a diverse and trangressive queer community. Rural queers are usually told to do one of two things: 1) Move or 2) Create their own community.
The first option refuses to acknowledge that any life other than the urban (or suburban one for that matter) is valid. The second fails to acknowledge that a community is made up of more than two or three individuals.
But despite this, some LGBTQ people choose to remain right where they are.
I loved growing up in rural Montana, but it nearly killed me. The landscape was heartbreakingly beautiful, but the attitudes of many people who live there were just as heartbreaking. Some of these issues get dealt with in my forthcoming chapbook, The Geography or Removal due out in February.