1. As a gay person, growing up in a small town can have its downsides.
2. It’s tough.
3. For starters, your gayness seems to be the one defining thing about you.
The fact that I’m the only person named Selvin in this town and still have to get “the gay one?” in sequence
selvin (@fuckselvin) May 3, 2017
4. And it’s even harder if there’s something else that’s “different” about you too.
Eternally relevant memo: LGBTQ people exist across all communities in every country on Earth (including small towns!).
5. You’re constantly being asked “the question.”
Not to mention its cousin: “You’re still single?”
(*screams with rage into the abyss*)
6. If you’re out and proud, you might be flaunting it like nobody’s business…
my gay ass needs merch to show my small ass town I mean business
pook (@Linzielelievre) June 12, 2017
7. …until you remember that’s not always safe, depending on where you are.
“You know whats great?” this Tumblr user captioned the photo above. “Putting some gay stickers on your car and promptly remembering Missouri hates gay people.”
8. Spotting another gay couple out in the wild is always pretty exciting.
Cute gay couple in McDonald’s. One white, one Asian. Little PDA. I ship it.
Josh H. (@joshkhorton) June 3, 2017
9. There’s not a whole lot do to in town already but there’s even less to do than if you were straight.
wheres my small town gay friend group thatll go chill out and drink on top of a water tower and throw bottles at god with me
SWEET (@cousinjune) June 11, 2017
10. A lot of the time, it can feel like the world is against you.
11. Being gay in a small town is almost like being famous. Almost.
Being gay in a small town is like having the plague and being a celebrity at the same time. People are afraid but wanna know all about it.
Felicia Tempel (@FeliciaTempel) April 24, 2017
12. Big family events can become needlessly complicated.
13. But you’ll work hard to find pride in yourself wherever you are.
14. If you’re out of the closet, your dating options can be … limited at best.
Living in a small town and being gay is so hard like i have the choice of 3 girls like guess i’ll just date myself _()_/
CJ (@Aeriolo) April 8, 2017
15. And meeting other people on dating apps is exponentially more challenging.
16. Like, really challenging.
*yells into megaphone* “Is anybody out there?”
17. Because the dating struggle is real when you’re a small-town gay in need of some serious gas money.
“30 miles is a wide radius for Tinder.”
Something inconceivable to my small town gay ass who has to go 50 miles to reach almost anyone.
Kenneth Shepard@home (@shepardcdr) May 17, 2017
18. Your big “firsts” probably happened a bit later in life.
my biography would be called ‘Sexual Repression: The Story of a Small Town Gay’
isaac thayne (@isaacthayne99) May 17, 2017
19. Even finding like-minded friends can be hard.
Today i explained the woe of finding gay friends in a small town, my mom said “why do you need gay friends, Why not just regular friends?”
lil doggies (@owlbard) May 15, 2017
20. You definitely know what it’s like to crush on someone who doesn’t return the feelings.
21. And you look for signs that you’ll be accepted wherever you go.
Literally any sign will do.
22. Like, even this poster for a scary movie about clowns is a fierce artistic inspiration to a small town gay.
23. Sometimes it feels like those scary movie monsters are the only ones that get you, actually.
the blair witch is a forest lesbian and the babadooks a small town gay
thotticus (@FellStrategist) April 18, 2017
Which, yes, is very sad. Do better, Hollywood.
24. Your neighbors likely disagree with your political viewpoints.
Going off the reception of my hat yesterday, my small southern town does NOT want to make America gay again
Annie (@ashirleys) April 10, 2017
25. If more of us felt supported in small towns, there would be no bounds to the good we could do politically.
if every gay couple moved to a small town, bought a fixer-upper, and opened a coffee shop, we could elect a hot young president again soon
Eric-by-the-sea (@ericschmerick) May 10, 2017
26. Maybe the most difficult thing about being gay in a small town is the feeling that no one truly understands you.
Out of all the gay tropes I could’ve been, why the fuck am I “the only gay kid in a small, damp Midwestern town”?
miss steal yo girl (@loserlyons) May 25, 2017
27. But here’s the thing: Sometimes your small town might surprise you in the best ways.
AT MY SCHOOL, A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS, A GAY GUY AND A BI GIRL GOT VOTED AS PROM KING AND QUEEN. LIFE IS GOOD.
abby (@endgamesanvers) April 3, 2017
28. Even in small-town Middle America, there are places that will love and accept you.
29. Being able to connect with pop culture outside your town definitely helps a lot, though.
Being a weird artsy gay kid in Small Town, Midwest, is hard (even before you realize you’re gay). But David Bowie made it a little easier.
Jessica Colbert (@JessicaLColbert) January 11, 2016
30. And thank goodness for the rebellious teachers who give you the courage to be who you are.
Grateful! Born n ‘Bama (small town) & knew who I was (gay). Gr8t teachers from k’garten-hi. Never a slam. Damn good teachers!
Tony Morris (@TonyMorris20) March 15, 2017
31. Not to mention those life-changing art and drama classes where you found safety and comfort.
32. Because for all their flaws (and there are many), small towns don’t always deserve their reputations.
They can be pretty damn great.
33. Hopeful even.
“You guys know what I just realized? Despite living in a Republican small town, I a queer, Native-Afro-Latina was voted Homecoming Queen in the fall and class president of my senior class. I was also one of the leads in my school’s musical. Three years ago, I thought I’d never be accepted and that I’d never have friends. I was scared to speak up and scared of being seen. There is hope, y’all. Things get better.”
Tumblr user Mo-Mosa
Positive change can’t come soon enough.
Fortunately, there are many organizations fighting the good fight with state and local chapters in your own backyard, should you want the support:
- PFLAG is a nonprofit committed to strengthening the bonds between LGBTQ people, their families, and allies in their communities. Its work is crucial in smaller cities and towns across America.
- The Trevor Project is an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group helping kids who feel as though they have no one to turn to. They save lives in small towns.
- GLSEN is a national organization aiming to make schools across the country as LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive as possible. Because our small-town schools (and all of our schools, really) need improving.
- The Genders and Sexualities Alliance (formerly the Gay-Straight Alliance) brings LGBTQ students and their straight, cisgender peers together to build bridges and understanding.