Rural Organizing: Creating Queer-Friendly Spaces

In the article, “Losing Home” by Eli Clare, she discusses her personal story of living as a queer in a rural area. She shares her story of leaving Oregon and living in an urban setting and the differences she faced between these two settings. Clare discusses how class is important for how someone experiences their identity. She explains, “Queer identity, at least as I know, is largely urban. The happening places, events, dialogues, the strong communities, the journals, magazines, bookstores, queer organizing, and queer activism are all city-based, “ (Clare, 37). Being raised in a rural setting and then leaving after high school to go to college in an urban city allowed Clare to observe the differences in living a queer identity in either place. 

Furthermore, Clare discusses building up trans-friendly spaces in rural areas. She explains rural organizing will be a difficult process because of all of the other issues involved as well including unemployment, housing, health care, and education. She says, “It will be slow work, creating queer visibility and acceptance by building community among queer people most accustomed to isolation and by finding common cause with the very people cast as the country’s biggest, most backward homophones,” (Clare, 41). Creating these spaces will be even more difficult simply because of the perceptions they have about queer people. 

Those living in rural settings have to deal with much different issues than those living in urban settings and Clare explains some of her own personal memories of living in a rural space.  This immediately made me think about what I’ve personally learned after working in a domestic violence shelter this summer. I actually became a certified domestic violence professional and learned everything I needed to know about domestic violence. In particular, I learned about the differences people face when it comes to domestic violence based on race, class, and sexuality.

 People who identify as transgender face very specific issues than anyone else experiencing domestic violence. This website gives a good overview of some of these issues:

http://opdv.ny.gov/whatisdv/lgbtqdvinfo.html

They have to deal with all sorts of things including being “outed” by their abusive partner, being prevented to take their hormones during their transitioning, and many shelters do not allow transgender people to stay there. This makes being in an abusive relationship even more dangerous.

 Just as those who are transgender facing different issues in abusive relationships, Clare shares how queer people face different issues based on their race, class, and location as well. Those in rural places must deal with other types of issues such as violence, not being accepted, finding a job, and having to “hide” their true identity. If we can try and create these organized rural spaces as Clare explains, maybe then we can no longer have to worry about living in fear based on  where we live and who we identify as. 

– Miranda Fencl

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