Thursday, February 10, 2011

Country By Default

So here I am in my cabin, by a lake, out in the boonies and I couldn’t be happier. But that happy took me a long time to get back to.

Growing up in a small town in Kansas was lonely, difficult, and at times very painful. So I did what most rural queers do…I left. I went to school, I worked on farms, I ranch handed—I did what I needed to do to get by. It was while living in Oregon that I started up a company called Bare Bones Press and Productions with a friend of mine. When Bare Bones first started, this current project was always somewhere in the development process. As I worked on our company and remained in the city the more I came to miss having access to my roots. It was through this internal struggle that I realized something; no matter where I was or what I did, I would always be a dirty, rugged, badass country queer—that the country was where I came from, that it was where I belonged, and that I was pretty damn proud of it.

My decision to return to the Midwest came from a few different reasons, but among them was the opportunity to create change where it was still lacking. See, upon re-arrival it hit me that in ten years I had changed, grown, moved forward—but that my homeland had not. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was that I had expected to have changed so drastically, or at what rate; all I knew was that upon my visits to various schools (both secondary and university), reading numerous articles, and just looking at the organizations that DID exist, that the rural queer youth today were still lacking access, support, and visibility. The struggle that existed in my hometown when I was fifteen, was still very much alive and kickin’ today.

During my time in Portland, OR I mainly utilized Bare Bones for youth projects. These projects succeeded and worked well in urban areas, but the problem for me was—that they were urban areas. I understood that many rural queers run to the city to get the hell out of the line of fire. I support this process as I believe that finding ones self, and gathering community is an imperative part of the coming out and coming of age process. But the reality remains that once you leave (coming or going), you are still left with your roots, with your inherent strength, ingenuity, and wild animal instincts.

See I believe all queers are country by default. I don’t care if you live in the city or the country, the fact of the matter is that we are all determined, bare knuckled, gnashing at the teeth survivalists that will out fight, out soul, and (many times) out smart you in the most overwhelming of situations. And rural queer youth are the most hardy of this breed.

And this leads me to the point of this blog. I write this for queers everywhere, but especially for the queer youth. It isn’t meant to be a call to action, but it is an-arm-around-the-shoulder validation. Consider it a weekly letter to all of my fellow folks on reclaiming their independence, their self-sufficiency, and their personal confidence that no matter where they are, they can survive—even when the odds look against them.

I'll post projects, book reviews, or tid-bit of info that will be based on rural practices, but will also provide suggestions on how you might apply them to your own wild and unique existence. Some posts may just be commentaries, but I feel that those are just as necessary as anything. So send me your comments, your questions, or your whatevers and we’ll get you to…

                                        RECLAIM YOUR WILD!


  1. Twigg as a fellow rural(ish) queer, I so appreciate your calling to create space for those youth who could so benefit from it!

    I plan on returning to the wild as well someday!



  2. “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air . . ." - Emerson

    An excellent first post! I look forward to what's to come.

  3. I love this I love this I love this!! That third to last paragraph and "rural queer youth are the hardiest of this breed" = perfect.

    I'm from rural central Washington, and I've lived in several cities for the past ten years, moving for school and work, but the best summer I had was when my partner and I moved to Cove, OR, population 680, to work at the Episcopal summer camp there, and it was amazing. My partner wrote a blog post about it here: That camp was a safer space for queer youth, GNC youth, and basically everyone from the whole state of Oregon that didn't quite fit anywhere else.

    My dad is also a fisherman in Alaska, and I used to crew for him, and am going up again this summer to fish with him, and there's all these things about survival and beauty and quiet and fighting and reality that I can't find in the suburbs or in Portland or wherever. I've found too that some small places are magnets for people who are misfits of all kinds - the town where my dad lives in AK is one - where basically everyone is a local character and since your very basic physical survival is predicated on each other, you learn to live with one another. I have never found that sort of acceptance in, for example, the NYC queer scene, where there's so many queers they can afford to be picky, exclusive, snotty, sneering, and destructive to one another.

    SO looking forward to future posts.