Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 561–581 | Cite as

Disrupting Cultural Selves: Constructing Gay and Lesbian Identities in Rural Locales

  • Emily KazyakEmail author


Research points to the increasing geographical diversity of gays and lesbians, in contrast to cultural narratives that link gay and lesbian sexualities to urban spaces. Examining the sexual identity constructions of rural gays and lesbians thus provides an opportunity to analyze the connection between cultural and personal levels of narrative identity. Drawing on data from thirty interviews with rural gays and lesbians, I address how this group negotiates cultural narratives about queerness and constructs sexual identities in rural locales. I find that their interpretations of geography make clear distinctions between urban/rural and draw on elements in rural culture. These interpretations provide resources to modify cultural understandings that narrate gay/lesbian identities in rural areas as closeted, hidden, and oppressed.


Gay Lesbian Geography Rural Identity 



I would like to thank the people I interviewed for this project for their time and willingness to share their stories. I also owe many thanks to Laura Hirshfield, Nadine Hubbs, David Hutson, Zakiya Luna, Katherine Luke, Karin Martin, Helen Moore, Carla Pfeffer, Gayle Rubin, Kristin Scherrer, Margaret Somers, Alford Young, Jr., as well as the QS editors and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology & Program in Women’s and Gender StudiesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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