University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Queer Spaces in Kentucky: Understanding LGBTQ Migration

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

Situated as a geographical fusion of the Bible Belt and the rural south, Kentucky - specifically Appalachia, KY - has been popularly known as a breeding ground of intolerance and bigotry toward the LGBTQ community. Consequently, there exists the notion that a large portion of the LGBTQ community members migrate out of the region in favor of more secular, urban residences to escape social alienation and become immersed in a more expansive queer community. Our research sought to explore the validity of this notion and gain a more complete understanding of the ways in which rural and urban spaces are conceptualized by the LGBTQ Kentucky community through migration. We hypothesized that while there are both positive and negative elements to living in either urban or rural spaces, the general migratory trend is from rural to urban. We tested this hypothesis by conducting ten semi-structured interviews with LGBTQ Kentuckians at both colleges and universities across the state. Individuals were asked questions regarding the motives behind their migration, the discrimination they faced at their former and current residences and the satisfaction and the impact moving has had on their lives. Two majors themes appeared among a majority of the participants: first, discrimination, particularly stemming from religious ideologies, played a large role in pushing the LGBTQ individuals away from rural areas; secondly, while new social technology has permitted rural LGBTQ Kentuckians greater access to local queer communities, the migratory trend is still one of rural individuals moving to more urban areas. The results of this study make clear the progress and resilience rural LGBTQ communities maintain in the face of widespread discrimination, and illuminate the diverse ways in which oppression can be subverted over time. Simultaneously, however, it is a call to action to provide more support to rural locales for LGBTQ folks.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Queer Spaces in Kentucky: Understanding LGBTQ Migration

Situated as a geographical fusion of the Bible Belt and the rural south, Kentucky - specifically Appalachia, KY - has been popularly known as a breeding ground of intolerance and bigotry toward the LGBTQ community. Consequently, there exists the notion that a large portion of the LGBTQ community members migrate out of the region in favor of more secular, urban residences to escape social alienation and become immersed in a more expansive queer community. Our research sought to explore the validity of this notion and gain a more complete understanding of the ways in which rural and urban spaces are conceptualized by the LGBTQ Kentucky community through migration. We hypothesized that while there are both positive and negative elements to living in either urban or rural spaces, the general migratory trend is from rural to urban. We tested this hypothesis by conducting ten semi-structured interviews with LGBTQ Kentuckians at both colleges and universities across the state. Individuals were asked questions regarding the motives behind their migration, the discrimination they faced at their former and current residences and the satisfaction and the impact moving has had on their lives. Two majors themes appeared among a majority of the participants: first, discrimination, particularly stemming from religious ideologies, played a large role in pushing the LGBTQ individuals away from rural areas; secondly, while new social technology has permitted rural LGBTQ Kentuckians greater access to local queer communities, the migratory trend is still one of rural individuals moving to more urban areas. The results of this study make clear the progress and resilience rural LGBTQ communities maintain in the face of widespread discrimination, and illuminate the diverse ways in which oppression can be subverted over time. Simultaneously, however, it is a call to action to provide more support to rural locales for LGBTQ folks.