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December 10, 2013

Rethinking Rurality: Queer Voices of The Green Mountain State

About the Project: Over the month of January we will be completing an audio documentary project seeks looks to gather, archive, and display the voices and stories of LGBTQI* people who can speak to the experience of growing up in rural areas of Vermont. While the state is often lauded as a home for financially secure gay adult couples who move in from other areas, small Vermont towns, and many areas with similar demographics in rural America, present distinct and complicated spaces for young people to be visibly queer. So often, we are presented with an “it gets better” narrative that subtly tells us to leave behind our small hometowns to go to big cities, and discount the places we come from as dynamic, livable, places of possibility. This project seeks to reject that notion by bringing together the voices and stories of people who can speak to both the hardships and possibilities for queer life in rural spaces. Specifically, it is our hope that other young LGBTQI* people will be able to use this project as a resource, and a place where they find reflections of themselves, and their stories.

About Us: We are two queer native Vermonters who grew up in rural areas of the state. Like many who leave small rural towns to come to pursue jobs, higher education, or other things, our notions of “home” and the places, people, and things that define it, have become complicated questions for us. Our communities, and the state of Vermont are sometimes spaces that feel difficult for us to thrive in, but also ones that we love, and deeply believe in. It is our hope that the final product of this work will serve not only as a historical archive of narratives and identities that are so often marginalized, but also as an living and working communal project that seeks to carve out possibilities for people of all identities to survive, and even thrive beyond the urban meccas of gay life that are often presented to young queer people as the only livable spaces for them to exist.

Who we are looking for: We are seeking to interview LGBTQI* people who have grown up, or are growing up in Vermont. While the project will be primarily focused on rural areas, we would love to interview all people who can speak to this experience. We will compile and archive the interviews online on website which will be accessible through the website of Vermont’s LGBTQI community center RU12?, and the Vermont Folklife Center, a multi-media archival organization. ALL INTERVIEWS WILL BE ANONYMOUS.  

Our Questions: We will be asking questions about your experience growing up in Vermont, your processes with your sexuality, your visibility or (in)visibility as an LGBTQI*person, the challenges you may have faced, and different resources or ways that you found (or are finding) support. What does it mean to be young and queer in Vermont? What does it look like? Feel like?

The project will also be focused on the idea of home. How do we define home when perhaps our communities, families or sources of support may reject certain parts of us? How do we create it for ourselves? Questions will attempt to understand  what “home” means to you, and how does your identity as a queer person complicates, changes, or strengthen that. Do you feel like Vermont is your home? Why? Do you want to leave Vermont? Do you want to stay?

Note: We recognize that these are general topics, and expect them to vary depending on what people are interested in talking about. We are open to all ideas, suggestions, additions, and subtractions!

If you are interested in participating, have any suggestions in the project, or just want to get it touch, please email Ariel Goodman and Eloise Reid at [email protected]

 
 

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