1. LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. I use “queer” as an umbrella term to reference all of these identities (in addition to others not represented in this list such as: pansexual, two spirit, agendered, genderqueer, etc.). For more information about these terms, and the ever evolving process of naming identities and desires within queer communities, visit: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2013/01/a-comprehensive-list-of-lgbtq-term-definitions/#sthash.cUWlFPec.dpbs.
2. Brandon Teena was a white twenty-one-year-old trans man who was murdered in Falls City, Nebraska, on December 31, 1993. Teena’s murder was made famous through the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry; Matthew Shepard was a twenty-two-year-old white gay man who was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998; I don’t aim to dismiss the very real history of violence towards queer folks in rural spaces, but the narrative that places violence and oppression in rural communities and safety and liberation in urban ones is simply false. In reality, queer and transgender people of color—in particular, trans women of color—are the most common victims of violent hate crimes in the United States, whether in rural or urban spaces. The national attention to Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard’s murders has worked to create a perception that rural areas are unsafe for queer people, but also has drawn attention away from the ways in which racism and homophobia coalesce to put trans and queer people of color most at risk for violence in the United States. For a list of the trans people murdered in 2016, see: http://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2016.
3. Since 2008, the STAY Project has brought more than 200 different young Appalachians together at five regional gatherings to help build a brighter future for Appalachian youth. STAY’s geographic reach extends to all regions of the five Central Appalachian states: Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. For more information about the STAY Project, see: www.thestayproject.com.
4. The goal of Country Queers is to document the diverse experiences of rural and small town LGBTQIA folks throughout the United States—across similarities in experience, as well as differences based on race, class, gender identity, age, religion, occupation, immigration status, ability, and other parts of our identities. Since 2013, I’ve interviewed 45 amazing country queers in 14 states. The project is ongoing. See more at www.countryqueers.com; The STAY Summer Institute is STAY’s largest membership gathering of the year, where young people from throughout Central Appalachia come together to build community, participate in popular education and organizing trainings, and work toward a more sustainable and inclusive future. Because these interviews took place at the STAY Summer Institute, all of the following people are connected to one another through community organizing and social justice networks within the mountains. STAY was founded with support from Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, Appalshop in Kentucky, and High Rocks in West Virginia. Additionally, all of the people presented in this collection of interviews have college degrees and have had the opportunity to leave the places in which they were raised. The Country Queers Project at large works to document rural queer experiences across a wide range of intersecting identities, including race, class, education, and geography.
5. In social justice and organizing spaces, many people refer to the collective work that organizers are doing across the nation and the world for justice as “the movement.”
6. While I don’t know which murders Elandria is referring to specifically, murders of transgender people—in particular trans people of color—continue to occur at alarming rates in the United States. The following article by the Advocate lists the known murders of trans people in 2013. Trans murders often go unreported as such due to the police mis-gendering the victim while filing reports. Actual numbers are likely much higher. See: www.advocate.com/crime/2013/11/20/transgender-day-remembrance-those-weve-lost-2013.
7. In January 2013, Vicco, Kentucky, passed a non-discrimination ordinance, earning the town the title of “Smallest Town in America to Pass a Non-Discrimination Ordinance.” Johnny Cummings, a hairdresser and the mayor of Vicco, Kentucky, gained national attention after he was featured on the Colbert Report on August 14, 2013.