Abstract

Rural communities can be perceived as conservative and, therefore, hostile towards queer people who depart from heteronormative renditions of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such perceptions can force rural queer people to conceal their identity, fostering an environment of invisibility and displacement. This study consequently explores why queer people conceal their identity in rural communities. Drawing on a sample of rural queer Australians, this study examines why those who are out (public about their orientation) adopt identity-concealing strategies. Using semi-structured in-depth interviews, the study draws on the experiences of 9 participants from rural towns varying in population size from 50,000 to under 3000. The findings highlight how perceptions of prejudice were based on historical experiences and still emerged through the people, systems and institutions. Such prejudice serves to stigmatise queer identities and motivates the adoption of concealment strategies as a coping mechanism. Four reasons for identity concealment were reported: to avoid exclusion, to avoid accusations of inappropriate behaviour, to avoid confrontation and to enhance perceptions of the queer communities. The findings highlight that there remain beliefs that concealing identity to various extents is necessary within certain rural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociologia Ruralis
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2024

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