Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Out in the country

via, by Mary Gray

I found LGBT youth doing drag at regional Wal-Marts and holding queercore concerts at Methodist skateboard parks 

Young LGBT people in rural places are defying the media stereotype that they need to live in cities to express their identity.

Mass media and popular culture typically represent rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people as out of place: isolated or alienated individuals who must seek out belonging in an urban elsewhere to find happiness – or, at least, a decent dating pool. By extension, such representations frame rural LGBT youth as inherently "lacking" or "incomplete".

Most media representations bombard us with three interlocking assumptions: 1) that a critical, visible mass of other LGBT people is within our grasp, just a gayborhood away; 2) that we can access a friendly donor base with the financial clout to make legislative action happen; and 3) that we can readily access visible public spaces that allow us to come together but also allow us to come and go anonymously to minimise the risks of being associated with LGBT rights issues. These tacit notions buttress our social visibility. Yet, none of these conditions for social organising and recognition exist in US rural communities. They are absent not simply because rural residents are resistant to their existence but because these resources – a critical mass of LGBT people, capital, and public spaces for political work – are structurally hard to come by for all citizens living outside of larger cities.

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