Queer Ruralism

54 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010 Last revised: 30 Apr 2011

Date Written: February 1, 2010


Queer ruralism is a particular form of discrimination on the basis of factors arising from being LGBT and living in a rural area. It is a consequence of residing at the nexus of ruralism - that is, discrimination on the basis of factors stemming from living in rural areas - and queer metronormativity - the assumption that LGBT people are exclusively urban. Queer ruralism is constituted by popular rhetoric of rural as backwards and rural queer as non-existent. This rhetoric is frequently adopted by the judicial branch, which has the effect of perpetuating and institutionalizing queer ruralism.

Gay and lesbian studies have discredited queer metronormativity and are considering actual circumstances of queers within their geographical context. Interviews of queer South Dakotans, conducted by the author, also challenge the validity of urban queer assumptions, while at the same time confirming that rural queers face many challenges that overlap with stereotypes of rural queers as isolated. This realization instructs a more expansive recognition of rural queer realities.

This Article explores judicial queer rhetoric and implores courts to consider rural queer realities by taking an expansive view of rural queers that is not entirely informed by stereotypes. It also concludes that queer ruralism has real, tangible, and material effects for queer rural Americans. Namely, rural queers are acutely discriminated against in the areas of healthcare, education, and political access. Until we begin to take account of rural queer realities, rural queers will continue to reside at the margins of society and the law.

Keywords: LGBT, Gay and Lesbian, Queer, Ruralism, Rural, Discrimination

Suggested Citation

Jerke, Bud W., Queer Ruralism (February 1, 2010). Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 34, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1551607

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