Presentation on theme: "Q UEER COUNTRY : R URAL L ESBIAN AND G AY L IVES Written by: David Bell and Gill Valentine (Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street,"— Presentation transcript:
Q UEER COUNTRY : R URAL L ESBIAN AND G AY L IVES Written by: David Bell and Gill Valentine (Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom) Presented by: Lucia Dvorakova Date: 15/11/2010
K EY T ERMS ( DEFINITIONS ): Utopia= An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects. Sociocultural variables= ethnicity, gender class, disability etc.) Gay identity=using terms such as 'gay' or 'lesbian' is deeply problematic, since they are identities to which not everyone who might engage in same-sex and sexual acts would wish to subscribe. Romanticisation= To view or interpret romantically; make romantic
C ONCEPT OF THE STUDY This article addresses the issues of sexuality in Rural life and lifestyle Outlines experiences of gay men and lesbians in countryside
T YPES OF METHODS AND THEIR AIMS Look at the lives and lifestyle of gay people by surveying: place of the rural within gay cultural products (books, poetry, movies) lives of gay people born and raised in rural areas Rural communal living experiments and recreational uses of countryside by sexual dissidents
A IMS OF THE METHODS These different sections of research help to mobilise different conception of ‘the rural’: Imaginative, idyllic setting for the same-sex love and sex. Space that creates social opportunities and life- chances - positive chances (for commune dwellers) - negative chances (struggle to find identity & community in homophobic, claustrophobic rural communities)
R URALITY IN THE G AY IMAGINATION Tracing history of the relationship between the homosexuality and rurality, through romanticisation from the Victorian era onwards. This method includes the use of the literature from that era and development of the romanticism.
U SING POETRY IN RESEARCH Byrne Fone’ study of Arcadia and gay male literature (1983) Greg Wood’s Articulate Flesh (1987), Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland (1915)
U SING FILMS IN THE RESEARCH Homosexual dramas (‘ Salmonberries and The Garden’) Lesbian and gay pornography and Erotic play (Woods 1995) Outdoors sex in general and sex in the countryside in particular have a long history and a wide geography. -sex games -Outdoor sex experiences
H OWEVER In reality rural areas may best be represented as settings for traditional (not enlightened) moral (including sexual) standards. (In its cosiest forms, rurality conflates with 'simple life', with hegemonic sexualities, church weddings, heterosexuality). Although even here 'modernisation' occurs- and British radio soap The Archers has storylines involving adultery and abortion (though continuing to deny homosexuality).
U SING MEDIA INFORMATION IN THE RESEARCH Further, to counter the urban bias of much reporting in the gay media, articles have recently been run in major gay magazines and newspapers. The pink press also regularly carries advertisements for gay or gay-friendly holiday accommodation in the countryside. Recent television and filmic portrayals, including adaptations of classic rural novels, have also depicted widely different forms of rural sexuality.
R URAL GAY LIFE Studies which have been conducted reveal, not surprisingly, tales of isolation, unsupportive social environments and a chronic lack of structural services and facilities, leading to eventual or projected emigration to larger (urban) settlements which offer better opportunities for living out the 'gay life'. Louie Crew's autobiographical account of 'growing up gay in Dixie' (1977) tells a story that deals with these exact issues, such as the threat of being cast out making denial and invisibility the only option.
R URAL GAY LIFE A significant part of the problem of rural gay life, as mentioned, is the lack of facilities and services -- as one respondent in Georgina Gowan's (1995) study of lesbian life in smalltown Salisbury put it, 'It must be exciting to be heterosexual' -- because at least then you have places to socialise freely. (Britain) As Tony D'Augelli and Mary Hart (1987) note in one of the very few studies to discuss (US) rural lesbian and gay lives in any detail: In most rural areas the gay community is invisible, caused by fear and discomfort. Many rural gays fear discovery and possible rejection, worrying that any gay behaviour will lead to exposure.
R URAL GAY LIFE Issue with AIDS However, studies of rural gays and lesbians also show the extent to which informal support networks have evolved. A further issue that must be discussed here is that of identity and identification. - Autobiographical accounts such as Crew's, and work such as Kramer's, show that many people who feel attracted to others of the same sex, and many who act on those feelings, often actively deny the label 'homosexual', let alone 'gay' or 'lesbian'. In fact, due to the intense heteronormative pressures of rural life, many are married, or have long- term partners of the opposite sex.
R URAL GAY LIFE Continuing the issue with identity -For some men and women, any kind of acknowledgement of their own same-sex activities, fantasies or attractions is unthinkable, rendering even the most sensitive program or helpline useless (and, of course, these people rarely if ever show up on any kind of surveys into sexual behaviour). However some gay men and lesbians decided to fight back this social prejudice and homophobic policy or even violence. (campaigns, gay parades, protests, etc.)
C OUNTRY LIVING Two groups living in country: 1. Gay men and lesbians born in rural areas 2. And those who move to the rural Life in the country for gay man: 1. structural difficulties 2. Offers freedom from many of the undesirable sides of modern life. (For lesbian feminists a return to nature, a break from the nuclear family, and freedom from men could all best be realised on farms and ranches.)
C OUNTRY LIVING ( QUEER COUNTRY ) Creation of rural communes for lesbian women (UK. US.) philosophies of lesbian separatism, that are not exclusively anti-urban, could perhaps best be enacted away from man-made cities. Women were suppressed by man, rejected from education and working. Not doing what man said made woman look irrational and uncontrollable. One of the reasons why lesbian feminist women tried to create women-only rural commune.
C OUNTRY LIVING Country Lesbians (1976) activities offered by the ECC's Gay Men's Weeks Homosexual outdoor recreational groups currently organising events in the U.K. (Hiking Dykes to the Gay Naturist Group.) But not all gay men and lesbians live in these rural communes. (Sandra Anlin's study (1991))
C ONCLUSION The relationship between sexuality and rurality has been shown to be ambivalent, contextual and malleable. The lives and lifestyles of lesbians and gay men in rural locations embody a range of responses from Utopian to dysfunctional and oppressive. The rural can be a place of fantasy and utopia, a place for living an idyllic 'gay' life. For many with same-sex feelings, they find it hard to deal with them, the countryside offers nothing but isolation and loathing, without the social networks or opportunities offered by metropolitan and cosmopolitan life.
C ONCLUSION For others, it is a place of escape from the evils of the city, either as an occasional recreational resource or as the setting for a whole new way of life. There is a high attention given to bisexuality and homosexuality but not enough research is done anyways. However the point is that there are other groups of sexual dissidents that are not mentioned a lot. People rather discuss and analyse homosexuals than zoophiles or necrophilia.
C ONCLUSION ( QUESTIONS ) We must immediately question the effects that academic exposure of rural sex lives might have. Who will it benefit and who might it harm? Is it better to leave hidden those who wish to be invisible? Certainly, there are sound reasons for wanting to bring to light the harsh realities of rural life for many sexual dissidents, and perhaps even to 'give voice' to that life.
T HANK YOU FOR YOU ATTENTION AND HAVE A NICE DAY... =]