Mtn. Talk: Country Queers
In this episode we bring you excerpts from an ongoing oral history project called Country Queers. Rachel Garringer founded this project in 2013 out of an intense sense of isolation from other rural and small town queer folks, and out of deep frustration with the lack rural queer visibility and history. Since then, she’s interviewed 60 rural and small town LGBTQ+ folks in 15 states. In this episode we’ll hear excerpts from seven interviews.
First, we’ll hear from Sam Gleaves, from an interview took place on his porch in Berea, KY, in July 2016. Sam is a musician from Southwest VA whose music is featured throughout this episode. Sam talks about his love of traditional music & his frustration with restrictions of traditional cultural values in Appalachia.
Then, we’ll hear from Robyn Thirkill, interviewed at her home in Prospect, VA in September 2016. Robyn is a hospice nurse, and lives on the family farm with her mother, two guard dogs, and several goats. Robyn talks about her family farm, and troubling histories around integration of the public schools there in the 1950s.
Tessa Eskander, a young trans woman from Cookeville, TN interviewed in October 2017, who describes the progress she’s made in her relationship with her parents since coming out. David Rodriguez lived and farmed in Bastrop, TX. In this 2014 interview he talks about growing up in a Tejano farming community in Texas, and becoming homeless as a teenager after he came out to his mom.
Then, we’ll hear Sharon Holland, a professor of critical race theory, queer theory, and feminist theory at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill – interviewed in June 2017 at her home. Kody Kay is a trans rodeo-announcer for the INternational Gay Rodeo circuit, and this interview took place at the 2014 Colorado Gay Rodeo in Gay Rodeo in Golden, CO. Kody talks about his work as a rodeo announcer in the International Gay Rodeo circuit, his life in rural CO, and his transition.
Last in this epiosde we’ll hear an excerpt from a 2013 interview with a former nun, who worked at a small newspaper in the rural western MA town where she was raised. She wanted to go by a psuedonym, so we’ll call her “Frances.” She was 78 at the time of this interview.
Music on this episode comes from Sam Gleaves’ 2015 album “Ain’t We Brothers.” Special thanks to Sam for giving us permission to use these songs for this program. We heard the title track, as well as “Two Virginia Boys.”