Imagine this:

You decide to leave the house for the first time in a couple of days. There’s no buses to anywhere in particular, so it’s just a walk around to your nearest village.

You think you’re dressed pretty inconspicuously. Just a ‘normal‘, young adult, going for a walk on a cold day. But it’s the ambiguity that confuses the man outside the pub. You’re dressed fairly traditionally masculine, but with that feminine flair you’re used to flaunting online, it’s hard to ignore the signs.

“My name is Casper, I’m a queer trans man, and I live in the middle of nowhere.”

In a rural, conservative county, this man isn’t happy about seeing what he’d call something pretty horrible. He shouts after you and there’s nothing you can do. You walk on to find sanctuary in the silence of the village farm.

My name is Casper, I’m a queer trans man, and I live in the middle of nowhere. More specifically, the middle of a field. Where I can hear the sheep serenading me to sleep. I see more tractors go past my house than public transport.

Sometimes, I look at the wonderful people in the bigger cities who have a queer community around them. I’ll be honest, it’s quite easy to get a little jealous. In the past 3 years of living in one of the smallest counties in the UK, I have met approximately two LGBTQIA+ individuals. I’m surrounded by predominately older, white cishet people. The nearest LGBT centre to me is 40 minutes by car, and the nearest queer support group is almost as far.

It’s not easy. There’s so many people out there who can access the support they need just by taking a short bus ride or walking. For people like me, trapped in a fairly right-wing area, this isn’t possible. The kind of people we encounter on a weekly or even daily basis make the safety of our queer Internet bubbles seem unreal.

“The nearest LGBT centre to me is 40 minutes by car”

But, that’s not necessarily true. The internet has opened so many doors for myself. It’s how I discovered my identities, I can find queer resources & feel safe being myself. The internet is how I found those two LGBTQIA+ individuals in this tiny little village. Both of them just a town away; that connection over understanding how hard it is to be different, in a place where that is seen as disgusting, is something I couldn’t have found in a city.

Sometimes, it’s awful being a rural queer. There’s homophobia, hatred and terrible politics almost everywhere you look. There’s very little you can do to meet people in a safe setting, and the support you could get at an LGBT centre is rarely found in a place like this.

But, it’s not all bad. If you’re a rural gay like me, use the Internet and find some people near you. You don’t have to do everything on your own. If there are people near you who are also dealing with the queer isolation of the country, start your own support group. Advertise it online, make it known that no one is alone.

Even if it’s just a Facebook group, it’s a start. Buy stickers from charities online, and slap them places where you think someone like you could see them. Ask your local centre if they’d consider branching out. Find out what your MP is doing for LGBTQIA+ individuals in your area.

There’s so much you can do to feel less alone, even if the living things nearest to you are cows, sheep and the occasional owl. And, know that you aren’t alone. There’s a whole world of people like you out there, and one day you’ll find them in real life, and know that they were your friends all along.

Casper Alixander

Casper Alixander is a queer trans man from the middle of England, slowly learning to be proud of his identity with a mission to help others do the same.

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