What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words “LGBTQ+ community?
Immediately what pops into most people’s heads is togetherness, love and above all else you tend to think of it being in the big city. Parties and clubs, parades celebrating the lives people fight for daily to live and for the rights people desperately need to truly be considered equal. But for us, the key part of this is the idea of “the big city”. Now, try to imagine growing up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields, trees and sheep with maybe a big church or rustic pub down the road and your sense of this party-going community seems to dwindle extremely in comparison.
Growing up gay in the middle of nowhere, or rather to be more accurate, in the middle of a predominantly countryside cow-infested area where you could probably walk 2 yards down the road and be in front of the building they milk them was pretty much bewildering. For the most part, there’s very little representation and you might as well be shouting “I’m the only gay in the village” 24/7 since, well… It’s probably true.
While you may think it’s like Little Britain and it’s all humour and sunshine and silver-leotards and bicycles, there is a very different story going on here.
David, a Coventry student from the countryside suggested that “it sucks and homophobia/transphobia is way more prominent”.
There also seems to be a common factor in small-towns as well, predominantly within schools where there is very minor presence of LGBTQ+ representation.
Andrea from Rugby concurred, suggested:
“My experience in Rugby is that it’s extremely isolating, with no coherent giving you a safe place to meet others like you”
This can make people feel very disconnected and isolated from the school community. Education seems to be at the forefront of why there is little representation of the gay community in smaller towns and villages across the country, leaving queer teens and young adults to become tutors in everything LGBTQ+ before they can even experience the wider community themselves.
Adam, a Politics graduate, spoke about their experience in secondary school:
“My experience at secondary school [before I considered not being straight] was people of different sexualities were very rare and like a fun/wild topic of discussion when they appeared in the school. The lesbian couple basically got the not-so-subtle crowd round them at lunch, and after a bi guy kissed a guy at a party he was questioned a lot”
David concurred, telling us more about his personal story.
“I came out when I was 13 and my reactions were either people never speaking to me again or like 20 questions from people I barely knew”
“I think there isn’t enough education about it, especially in small towns. If there was more education, then kids wouldn’t have to turn to their peers to teach them about queer indentities”
Like previously stated, this isn’t Little Britain realness hunty. This is a very open reality many across the UK who are LGBTQ+ probably live on a daily. Maybe you’re lucky and you find someone else who you can relate to, growing together a friendship and maybe relationship that would stand the test of time, or at least keep you from screaming back at that one extremely religious person who says “You’re a sinner and you’re going to hell”.
There is still very much an open stigma of LGBTQ+ people, one that is still going on to this day in our countryside villages and towns where LGBTQ+ representation is lack lustre to say the least.