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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Rural Life  
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Kate Davis's Southern Comfort (2001) is a documentary that tells the fascinating and moving story of the last year of the life of Robert Eads, a female-to-male who lived in the back hills of Georgia.

Jane Anderson's HBO film Normal (2003), starring Tom Wilkerson and Jessica Lange, explores, with equal doses of pathos and humor, the journey of a midwestern farm couple as they cope with the husband's decision to undergo sexual reassignment surgery.

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Glenn Holsten's documentary Jim in Bold (2003) tells the tragic story of Jim Wheeler, a rural gay youth who committed suicide in 1997 after constant harassment at school.

T. Joe Murray's documentary film Farm Family: In Search of Gay Life in Rural America (2004) offers an interesting look at the lives of gay families in the American heartland, documenting the challenges as well as the joys they experience, and both the support and the scorn they receive.

Malcolm Ingram's Small Town Gay Bar (2006) is a gritty documentary that paints a vivid and disturbing picture of queer life in rural northeastern Mississippi, where homophobia is the norm and the closet a necessary survival tactic for most glbtq people.

The documentary, Out in the Silence (2009), directed by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, grew out of the ugly reaction to the announcement in Wilson's home-town newspaper in rural Pennsylvania after the directors married in Canada in 2004. Though grounded in small-town Pennsylvania and in the personal history of Wilson and Hamer, the documentary explores more generally the quality of life of gay men and lesbians in small towns, including most poignantly instances of bullying and bigotry.

County Closets E-Zine was launched in 2010 in order to be the e-zine voice of rural gay men and lesbians everywhere. The online publication contains a great deal of information about glbtq rural life, including first-person accounts of growing up gay or lesbian in rural communities as well as news, history, and advice.

A recent reality television show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which debuted in 2010 on the Planet Green network, reverses the typical scenario of gay men leaving the country for the city by following the mostly comic exploits of a gay couple who move from New York City to Sharon Springs, New York, a rural area upstate. The series features Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge as they learn how to become farmers to eighty goats, two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a llama.


Although the stereotype of rural gay life as fraught with fear is undoubtedly overstated, country life is not without its dangers. Thriving urban queer communities, such as those in San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York, have large contingents of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people who have fled rural areas in order to live openly. These émigrés from rural areas not only fear rejection and stigmatization in their hometowns, but actual physical violence as well, and often with good cause.

Although the level of violence directed at glbtq people in rural areas is undoubtedly much less than that encountered in large cities, rural gay and lesbian people often lack the kind of organized support systems and political power that urban communities rely upon for protection.

It may be noteworthy that three of the most brutal and widely-publicized murders of glbtq people have taken place in rural areas: Teena Brandon in Nebraska in 1993, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998, and Billy Jack Gaither in Alabama in 1999.

The lesbian sanctuary Camp Sister Spirit repeatedly suffered aggressive hostility and harassment from some of its Ovett, Mississippi neighbors in the years after its founding in 1993. The women's retreat finally won the hearts of the local community during the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the camp's founders Brenda and Wanda Henson offered open-handed support to everyone, gay or straight.

Young People

Glbtq youth are often particularly vulnerable to abuse. Legally bound to their families until they come of age and exposed to bullying and intimidation if their identity is suspected, they often lead lives of quiet desperation.

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