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Country Queers

Oral History project documenting diverse experiences of rural & small town LGBTQ+ folx | Founder R. Garringer | Managers @virginia._slime & @queencoal

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We recently learned of the passing of Xamuel, who led a beautiful, wise, and powerful takeover last May. Please join us in sending love & donations to support Xamuel’s family & community in this time. Go fund me link in bio. • • From Xamuel’s family: “This sweet young man was a farmer and artist and social justice warrior. He was a reliable and resourceful friend. He was a trickster who loved to learn and to teach. He respected the earth and its peoples. He had made such great strides on his way to so many admirable goals. We lost him to a random event. As we mourn our loss, we wish to honor him by helping his family in their grief and their sorrow. Please contribute to this fund to help them with the costs of his passing. The smallest donation is as meaningful as the largest. Con amor y respeto a todas las ramas de la familia de este hombre, gracias.”


I wish I had the brain power to have posted more, but my weekend required a lot of just being present. It was so necessary and reminded me of how much healing I need to do. Anyway I wanted my last post to honor an aunt of mine. Her name was Vanessa and she’s the first person I knew as gay. As a toddler, I looked at her and was inspired by the way she challenged gender. Here she is (left) pictured with her mother. I didn’t know her well because my own mom kept me away from her because of homophobia and serious addict shaming. Once I said “I wanna look just like her when I grow up” and my mom screamed “No you don’t! You don’t wanna be like THAT” . I still wonder what she was like. The stories she would tell as a country queer, raising hell in Tazewell Co. Virginia. The sad reality is she died by suicide in 2006 at just 25. We came from the same rural county, same hereditary mental illness, and generational poverty. But one difference I want to name is that theres a community I have now that I think saves me everyday. I wouldn’t have access to this if it wasn’t for this strange timeline I live in. It’s chance I was born in this time and place where many opportunities and resources have been around, comparatively to a decade ago. There are still so many rural people that are outside of our queer outreach. Our community can be dangerously insular. I’m am committing myself to changing that. This has been @virginia._slime Posting for #countryqueers


A snapshot of the police presence at Tri Cities Pride, Johnson City TN. I usually avoid prides. I don’t feel empowered by them for many reasons, but today I needed to be there. White supremacists showed up and we resisted (all 6 of them). We watched as the police protected them and cornered us. The entire Pride itself was essentially within a giant cop cage. This is not what queer liberation looks like. #appalachiaisAntiRacist #queersbashback #fagsanddykesagainstwhiteknights This is @virginia._slime Posting for countryqueers


Hi!! This is Shannel (posting a little late in the day) from Central Appalachia. I’m so excited to now be a part of the countryqueers management team. I’m from Southwest Virginia. I’m 24 and have lived in swva for 23 of those years. I have a complicated relationship with home, as most of us here do. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on that throughout the week. Here’s some pics of me in my happiest of places. I’m a musician and make films. I do documentary work about things happening in my region 💜 This weekend I’ll be posting from @highlandercenter in east TN. It’s Highlander’s 86th Homecoming Celebration! This is @virginia._slime posting for @countryqueers Photos by @oaksphotos And @loumurrey


Hey dear #countryqueers & friends. Been taking some time off from takeovers as you might have noticed, but don’t worry! They’ll be back and better real soon!!! • I’m t.h.r.i.l.l.e.d. to introduce the new Country Queers account managers: Shannel (they/she) @virginia._slime & Olivia (she/her) @queencoal ! These badass swVA fabulachian @stayproject babes are doing a joint takeover September 13-17, 2018 to introduce themselves. And they’ll be taking lead from there.. • I’ll still be around, but trying to focus on getting the 60+ oral histories gathered with incredible country queers from across the US out into the world. Thanks for sticking with this 6-year-old project as it grows and evolves! ❤️ Rachel. • 📷 @loumurrey


Hi #countryqueers & friends.  Rachel here with a few updates/thoughts. .. 1st: I can still hardly believe it happened, but, I got to interview @dorothyallisonwriter for Country Queers this month. As a writer, a southern born & raised queer, a history nerd, & a huge fan it was truly amazing.  She was as feisty, funny, wise, fierce, generous, & welcoming as you could hope for.  Can’t wait to share the interview! • 2nd:  I want to thank @twinoaksqueergathering for the takeover last week, & also to acknowledge that some of their content & language was really harmful in terms of gender & race.  I also want to thank folks for raising some really important critiques of the takeover itself & issues of white supremacy in country queer life generally. The tensions, contradictions, & messiness of promoting rural pride – specifically among predominantly white queer folks – in a country founded on & fueled by genocide, slavery, land theft, & colonialism are not lost on me. And, I still believe in a need for first person rural queer accounts of the joys, challenges, terrors, triumphs of our lives. • The goal of this project has never been to amplify one kind of rural or queer experience, to romanticize rural life, to deny the problems in rural spaces. The goal has been to amplify many experiences of queerness & rural life, and complicate ideas of both.  To demand a national conversation that doesn’t simplify queerness to metropolitan, wealthy, cis-gendered whiteness, or rural-ness to conservative Christian white heteronormativity. .. Content of takeovers are left wide open so folks can craft their stories as suits them, but clearly a process is needed to determine when & how to step in when harmful content and dynamics come up. Development of some clearer guidelines is in progress. I’m grateful to everyone who has shared their stories, & their frustrations & critiques of this work.  Please keep both coming... • 3rd:  I’m super excited to announce that the moderation of this account is going to shift hands to some badass young Central Appalachian babes from swVA from @stayproject More on that soon! .. 🧡💜❤️🖤💚💛💖 from eKY


A little more about Twin Oaks: we’re the oldest non-religious egalitarian commune in the US—we’ve been around since 1967. We have 90 adult members and 15 kids living on 350 acres of land. We share all resources including the income from our collectively-owned hammocks and tofu businesses, and every member shares in community decision-making. For more snapshots of Twin Oaks life, follow @twinoakscommunity and my personal account, @cynical.elle.woods. This has been Julia posting on behalf of @twinoaksqueergathering for @countryqueers. . . . #twinoakscommunity #communelife #intentionalcommunity #incomesharing #egalitarianism


Here’s a photo dump from the Gathering (pics are still rolling in). Fire, rainbows, pickup trucks, and power tools all featured heavily. This is Julia posting on behalf of @twinoaksqueergathering for @countryqueers . . . #twinoaksqueergathering #queergathering #twinoakscommunity #communelife #intentionalcommunity


Did you know that Twin Oaks also has a Women’s Gathering? @twinoakswomensgathering is open to all women regardless of gender assigned at birth, and to nonbinary people who identify as female in a significant way. This is Julia posting on behalf of @twinoaksqueergathering for @country queers . . . #queergathering #twinoaksqueergathering #womensgathering #twinoakswomensgathering #twinoakscommunity #communelife #intentionalcommunity


Khaleesi the dog has to be at the front of every group photo. Here’s a bunch of the cute queers at the Gathering! This is Julia posting on behalf of @twinoaksqueergathering for @countryqueers . . . #twinoaksqueergathering #queergathering #twinoakscommunity #intentionalcommunity #communelife


The rain won’t hold off this Gathering. Here’s me and Maddie adding some traction to the kitchen ramp, just as the first participants arrive. This is Julia posting on behalf of @twinoaksqueergathering for @countryqueers. . . . #twinoaksqueergathering #twinoakscommunity #communelife #intentionalcommunity #queergathering


The Queer Gathering is only 48 hours away! All of us communards working on this event are going a little crazy preparing the conference site, last minute registration, performances, food, and all the other logistics that go into hosting 50 people in the woods. If you live in Virginia (or will travel for awesome queer camping) there’s still time to register, or you can register on-site when you arrive Friday at 4pm! This is Julia with @twinoaksqueergathering posting for @countryqueers . . . #countryqueers #queergathering #twinoaksqueergathering #twinoakscommunity #communelife #intentionalcommunity #intentionalliving


Next up: the folks @twinoaksqueergathering ! Twin Oaks is an egalitarian income-sharing commune in Louisa, Virginia. The Queer Gathering is a safe and supportive camping event for queer folks and allies of all ages to come together, skill share, make art, build community, dance, and organize. Follow along August 1-7, 2018!


Will Ye Go Lassie Go? 🌿🌿☘️🌿This was one of my violin teacher’s favorite songs. She competed in the Rose of Tralee pageant in Ireland and I had a big crush on her when I was twelve because she looked like the type of Celtic princess who rode her steed bareback into battle with a double headed axe in hand ♥️⚔️🐴 This is Liuxing Johnston @lemonliu32 singing for all you Country Queers™️


China Sea: The best (and only) place to get fresh dumplings to eat on the beach 🥟♥️🌊 This is Liuxing Johnston posting for country queers


For a long time, I didn’t talk about Highlands. I didn’t talk about my mother or the crying or the mania or the reason I left town. I didn’t talk about the river. I left the hills and the Atlantic Ocean for the West Coast and I thought it made me better than the person who I used to be. I wasn’t the dirty kid in Catholic school whose mom could barely afford the tuition and I wasn’t the dyke who got laughed out of the locker room. Out West, my over washed clothes were cool and everyone shopped at the Goodwill for fun. I worked at a vegan cafe and I drank cup after cup of coffee and never ate any of the food because my stomach wasn’t used to processing more than half a meal a day. Everyone would talk about spring quarter family vacations and I would think about the weeds on my father’s grave, how no one would sing to my mother at the nursing home because I wasn’t there to do it. Because I was a cool kid now and cool kids have no use for faerie songs or bed time stories. It felt like my entire life was rotting inside of me and all I could do was cut organic potatoes into french fries and dream about the moon over the Atlantic every night. Going back to Highlands and sleeping in the bedroom where I stayed right after I had to leave my mother’s house has helped me remember why it’s so important to honor where I’m from by talking about it with other people. There will always be a kid in a bed they’re sleeping in for the first time, wondering if they even want to live to get bullied at school the next day. There will always be a kid sitting by the river, looking across at the big city reflected in the water and wondering if there could be a different version of themselves there. I’m glad to be share these stories about my life on this page and and I’m grateful that it helped me find my way back home. This is Liuxing Johnston @lemonliu32 posting for country queers🏡♥️🌊


Sandcastle: A story told in three parts Part I: The Farmer’s Daughter 🌱🌊🌹 Once there was a farmer’s daughter who dreamed of living in a castle made of stone. Her father had left his fields for a lady who served the court and lived in a cottage on the banks of the river. He died a poor man, his bones forever sealed away from his home in the mountains. Before his passing, he willed the small cottage to his daughter. He told her that nothing mattered more than the land on which the cottage stood, for it was all that one had left to give when the Banshee cries at your last breathe. She knew that he had already lost the land in Éire that he intended to teach his children to work, how it destroyed him to think of the life he had never been able to pass down to her. The farmer’s daughter said she understood and wept through the Banshee’s cry as her father passed. She grew older and married a merchant from the North, who promised her a castle and not a care in the world so long as they were able to raise children together. She was not able to have children of her own, so she prayed to the goddess day and night that there would be some way grant both of their prayers. After two years of marriage, she was able to take in two young cast aways from a distant land where they were sending girls to meet Death at the banks of a river like the one that ran through her own home. For a time, there was peace, a family to look after and the foundation of a castle to be constructed where her father’s cottage had once stood. Her children played in the same river that had seen her father’s passing and her mother’s spite over a husband who chose his grief over a home he’d lost over a life with his wife and child. She saw their shadows cross with the shadows of her children as they splashed through the water and prayed that they would never know such loss and bitterness. This is Liuxing Johnston @lemonliu32 posting for country queers. Part II will be up later tonight🌊🏰🗻


Granuil//Ching Shih I was a pirate kid. I was also an artsy dirt kid but I mostly stuck to low grade swash buckle LARPING and chalk drawing boats on the blacktop at school. My mom got me a book about Pirate Queens and read it to me every night before bed for two weeks straight. The pirates were everything I wanted to be. They had cool tattoos, big leather hats, no bed times, and best of all, cool girl “best friends” who looted ships and robbed men with them. What a life! Eventually I got into mermaids too and then sirens and I always thought the pirate queens and ocean women would have an alliance to keep the ocean safe. I got these tattoos when I was living far away from home and I felt like I was forgetting about the ocean. I didn’t even think that was possible, forgetting the body of water that taught you how to love in a way that lasted through your phases. The blue crab in my chest tattoo lives happily in the Atlantic and I imagine that the mermaid on my leg mermaid probably does too. This is Liuxing Johnston @lemonliu32 posting for country queers👌🏽🌊🦀🧜🏼‍♀️