Sociology, Department of


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Published in Qualitative Sociology Online First™, September 20, 2011; doi: 10.1007/s11133-011-9205-1 Copyright © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Used by permission.


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.

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