Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly 33:3 (Summer 2013)
Melanie Hoffert’s memoir on growing up gay in rural North Dakota is refreshingly devoid of the clichéd finger-wagging that marks much discourse on the subject. The denizens of Dakota are not depicted as abject bigots or people in need of diversity training. Hoffert’s reluctance to “come out” to family, friends, and former neighbors of her small town is something she ultimately pins on herself, or on something she calls “prairie silence.” At times this phenomenon seems salutary, part of the “natural” relation of people to profoundly open spaces; at times “prairie silence” seems to be an affliction depriving people of entry into their “deepest feelings.” Anyone who has lived here for any length of time will recognize this emotional remoteness. Anyone who has been gay here has had to make some kind of peace with it. Or leave.