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‘It Sucks That I Have to Be Scared’ – Conversations with Rural LGBTQ Young...


‘It Sucks That I Have to Be Scared’ – Conversations with Rural LGBTQ Young People

Story by The Daily Yonder (31 Jan 2023)

Ray Saul spent years frightened for her safety at school.

She was outed as bisexual in eighth grade in Bardstown, Kentucky, a city of about 14,000 .

“Someone overheard me talking to one of my very close friends, and then that person who overheard me told the entire middle school band,” Saul said.

From then on, she kept her sexuality and gender identity “under wraps,” she said, as the experience of being outed left her feeling threatened.

Saul is not alone in experiencing that fear. Things have improved in both rural and urban areas in the last 20 years since I came out while attending a rural high school in Eastern Kentucky. But the current environment for LGBTQ youth is still fraught.

Anti-LGBTQ hate speech is on the rise on Twitter, according to a media watchdog group. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that 2022 was the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ legislation. And hate crimes, including the deadly attack in a Colorado Springs gay club in November, are on the increase.

I decided to see how some of today’s rural young people are navigating this difficult climate. Here’s what I found.


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