Fact Or Myth: There's No Way A Rural Place Could Make A Welcoming Home For A Queer Person

What's one stereotype of rural communities? That they're close-minded and bigoted. A place like that couldn't possibly be a welcoming home for someone who identifies as LGBTQQ, right? Wrong. Because that's the thing about stereotypes: They're not the (whole) truth.

Stick around past the intro to 1:30, when she talks about her own story and really gets to the nitty gritty of what the project's all about.

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Rachel: Hi. My name is Rachel and I'm asking you to support my Oral History project I call "Country Queers Can Survive and Thrive". The goal of this project is document the experiences of rural, and small town and country queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, A-sexual, inter-sex, pan-sexual, and two spirit people all over the United States. And so far I've interviewed 10 people in seven different states. And in order to reach out to a larger area, and a larger range of folks I need your help to take this project on the road this summer. And the plan is travel for a month and to pass through 10 states. Those states are Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. I have people lined up to interview in many of those states, and I'm also in conversation with various organizations throughout the south and southwest to try to reach out to an even larger range of people who might want to share their stories. Those organizations include, Southerners on New Ground, The Two Spirit National Cultural Exchange, The Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, The Kansas Queer Youth Network and the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association. 

I myself am a country queer. I grew up in rural West Virginia on a sheep farm. And I left for college and came out pretty, soon after of leaving home. And I bought into the belief that my home wasn't a safe place for me as a queer person. So I spent 10 years away from home, but I missed the mountains constantly, and I finally moved home. And not only am I surviving here I'm thriving. I'm happier, and I'm healthier than I've ever been. And I know there are other queer people all over the U.S. who are having similar experiences. 

I want to collect stories that show similarities and the experience of being a rural, or country queer person from Maine to New Mexico. And I want to collect stories that show how our experiences are really different based on race, and class and gender identity, and age, and ability and other parts of our identities. 

Your contributions will allow me to travel for a month. It will cover gas, food, lodging and camping fees, and will also allow me to purchase a high-quality camera so that I can take portraits of country queers. I hope that someday this project will turn into a book. And with your help there will gorgeous pictures of country queers in that book. 

If you don't buy into this sort of mainstream thinking that rural places aren't safe for queer folks anymore, please fund this project. If you yourself are a country queer who really feels isolated and cut off from other queer folks, please fund this project. And also, please get in touch because I would like to hear your story. If you believe that rural areas should be just as good of an option for  the LGBTQ community to live in as urban areas are, please fund this project. if you believe that country queers can survive, that we can thrive, and that we've existed all along, people have just been ignoring us, please fund this project. Anything you can do is greatly appreciated. And thank you very much for your support.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Rachel Garringer is the superb person behind this project. If you'd like to contribute to her trip, visit her Kickstarter. If you just wanna learn more about the whole thing, you should check out her website. Thumbnail photo via Thinkstock.


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