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Comment: Growing up gay in rural Britain

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  1. This is a joke, right?

    1. It was quite entertaining but I was laughing with the author rather than at him…

    2. No, I don’t think it’s supposed to be a joke. He could well be describing my teenage years. A lot of rural England has no public transport to speak of. The village I grew up in had two buses a week. And parents these days are much less likely to allow teenages to cycle five or ten miles on their own. If you wanted to go somewhere, your parents drove you, or someone else’s parents collected you. That’s hardly a conducive environment for exploring your sexuality.

      Also, unless you’ve lived in such places, it’s hard to understand how socially conservative the countryside can be. At the secondary school I attended, which had over 1200 pupils, I wasn’t aware of anyone who was openly gay. (For that matter, there weren’t any coloured pupils or pupils from religious minorities or from immigrant families.) This wasn’t back in the 1950s. It was only 15 years ago.

  2. I think you raise a really valid barrier to young people, especially in really rural places. No, it’s not right to go sleeping around excessively, but young people still need those definitive sexual experiences. Adam, I don’t think it’s a joke – and I commend Justin for being so open about the issue. Great post!

  3. You have highlighted such a big problem. I live in the countryside too, and I totally agree with your point on defined genders x

  4. “Another chat with my friends (during spin the bottle) revealed that none of the girls had ever masturbated”

    Lolcats and roflmao is what you should say to that.

  5. I still Justin’s point. I am gay and grew up in the countryside. I agree with him.

    1. Underaviaduct 29 Aug 2013, 6:18pm

      Sorry, reported you by mistake instead of a thumbs up :-(

  6. This was terrific! I have no practical suggestions, but I want to assure Justin that once he is at University he will likely have no problem finding opportunity and he surely will find his relative lack of experience makes no difference whatsoever, there will be plent of people wanting to help him catch up… ;)

  7. I’m not sure I follow your argument. Do you want some loss-making commuter bus services to help rural LGBT teenagers access anonymous sex? You can’t change the demographics of the town/country divide, but you can change the culture – especially in schools. Not to promote promiscuity, but to address LGBT awareness and perception.

  8. I don’t agree with Justin’s emphasis on casual sexual encounters being desperately important (but if I was still a horny teenager I would), however meeting other gay people and forming any sort of relationship is desperately important when you’re “the only gay in the village”.

    I’d encourage people to look past the sexual aspects of this piece if you have a hard time remembering being this age or are squeamish about teenagers having sex.

    Growing up in a rural area was pretty awful in some respects as an lgbt teen. Learning to drive solved all my problems overnight. This may well be the answer for you too Justin, or perhaps not since it’s bloody expensive. If you’re out in the sticks and can’t get to a job to pay for lessons/car/insurance/fuel then it’s a catch 22.

  9. johnnybegood 2 Aug 2013, 4:07pm

    local cruising ground always worked in our day. A chat, some sex. An exchange of some tomato plants and a nice jar of home made chutney. We supported each other very well. Some even brought along a themos of tea.

    1. Spanner1960 3 Aug 2013, 3:05pm

      I assume that was before war broke out? ;)

  10. Totally agree with Denis’s point about a change in culture- I’m about to start volunteering with Stonewall! Public transport in rural areas is totally abysmal, I mean in terms of getting employment, forming relationships(that’s what I was getting at- f*** buddies was just to point out the difference in cultures between my friends in cities and me). I know they’d be running at a loss, but actually it should be a public service in the same vein as the NHS, rural economies suffer and rural counties are poorer because people cannot get about and get employment. It’s a horrid situation and the fact that tory councils view bus services not as a service but as a means of profit does not help.

  11. I kind of feel the same way but for different reasons. I lived in rural areas all of my childhood, now in my 20’s and at University i find it hard to connect with other gay people. It’s not that there isn’t any in the city where I study, there are loads. But I have never had a gay friend and hardly interacted with other gay people. I have loads of straight friends and am completely happy with that. But when I meet another gay man I find it really awkward and I don’t know how to make friends with them. I’m 21 and have only ever been to 2 gay bars, never been to a gay club and have zero gay friends. I know of other gay men and they are only friends with other gay men, and they are all a massive group of friends. I find that really intimidating after never having beens friends with anyone else gay. ALSO i think the author puts too much emphasis on ‘casual sex’, it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be, having sex with strangers in a big city is SUPER dangerous.

    1. If you want to meet like minded gay people and you’re not “into the scene” then “going out in the scene” is not going to help. There probably are loads of gay men and women in a similar boat, most of us meet people online (not for hook ups).

      Perhaps if you haven’t already you can give that a go. If you already have, and only experienced a load of weirdos with bizarre fetishes or anger management problems, I feel for you, but keep going there are regular people out there.

      All my friends are straight with only one or two exceptions. The exceptions are in a similar boat to both you and I.

    2. Try participating in an activity where there will be other LGBT people. If your university’s LGBTsoc is a bit cliquey, try town not gown. In a decent-sized city there should be an LGBT organisation that needs volunteers, or perhaps more people for next year’s pride committee. There may well be gay clubs in the city for football, running, hiking, singing and other activities.

      And within your university there will be clubs which, while not explicitly LGBT, have a lot of gay members, like theatre.

      If you can meet gay people in a non-sexual setting you’ll become more confident making friends. Having a group of friends of your own will also give you more confidence to try socialising on the “scene” – if you want to.

      And if you do go out alone, go out fairly early before everyone’s hammered, and try talking to women, especially partnered ones who aren’t looking to pull. Play on our mothering instincts and we’ll introduce you to a nice group of boys in no time!

  12. I think being ‘the only gay in the village’ would be very difficult but things in cities aren’t much better. I live in a city and find it hard to meet men offline, and a f**k buddy! Been trying to find one of those for years without much luck ! It’s hard to meet men anywhere if you’re gay because you have 5% of the population to choose from as apposed to 45% or
    so that heterosexual men have to choose from for a potential mate.

    Mr. Pink

  13. Totally agree with you Justin – many young people feel really isolated. As someone who also lives in the county, it’s fair to say that there is more backward thinking with regards to homosexuality. This, alongside a tragic under provision of public transport, can have a really detrimental impact on LGBT young people.

  14. I feel well placed to comment, having lived my whole life (I’m 22) in the middle of nowhere. We may not have a little shop, but we do hold nice coffee mornings.

    Maybe I’m biased – I like the idea of pre-marital abstinence (and that’s not from social pressure – I don’t know almost anyone around here who’s done/doing the same..!), and I love the area (which is why I’m still living here, and most of my friends are thus 30+ years older).

    I think you perhaps over-sexualise your argument. Coming out is as ‘sexual’ as getting married, I certainly wouldn’t compare it to discussing masturbation etc.

    My solution to overcoming homophobia was to get involved and show I was a ‘nice chap’ (I hope) well before I came out. If people already like you, the fact you’re gay doesn’t make a difference in my experience.

    I think the problem is really that if you’re not part of ‘the scene’ it’s easy to feel alienated from other gay people. That’s certainly not a unique problem to rural inhabitants.

    1. You may not like it but this guy is a horndog that wants a bit of fun with similar minded guys (gay bi and curious LOL). Why all the judging?

      He’ll take what he wants and then grow out of it when he finds a a sober minded hubby (if he wants to keep the hubby that is.) I don’t quite get the entitlement thing re casual sex for country folk, but please can every body stop calling him a slag with your polite language…

      1. My apologies if I wasn’t clear enough – my opening paragraph was intended merely to set out our similarities and differences for context, certainly not for judging.

        I don’t like the idea of f*ck buddies, and I’m not keen on the idea of pre-marital sex, but blimey if I judged everyone who did that sort of thing I’d be an insufferable person!! I doubt I know many people, even coming from a rural conservative area, who waited for marriage.

        I’m just saying his main argument is an extension of a much wider problem, the connection (or lack thereof) of gay people outside ‘the scene’. I’d also argue that the main thrust of his argument is slightly incorrect by making it sound like all gay teenagers need f*ck buddies.

        Actually – reflecting on it – why is this an LGBT issue..? There weren’t any gay chaps up for casual sex around here when I was a teenager (if I’d wanted it), but neither were there girls – so it’s a straight issue too.

  15. Simple answer. If you don’t like where you live. Move.

    1. Much easier said than done for the vast majority of people sadly

      Mr. Pink

    2. He’s a teenager… Unless you have a very dry sense of humour, your comment doesn’t make much sense. If you are joking congrats, I just laughed out loud.

      1. I moved out when I just turned 16, well actually I forced out by my parents because I came out. Got a job, rented a flat, it was tough, but I didn’t moan and got on with it, simple. Had a great life since. What ‘s being a teenager got to do with it? And why would anyone find what I said funny? It’s logical to move when you don’t like where you live.

        1. You might have been lucky and got on with it but most teenagers would be unable to find a job or a flat for themselves in this economy let alone be able to take care of themselves sufficiently as an adult. I’ve been applying for jobs for ages without any luck, if I was kicked out or ran away tomorrow I’d be totally screwed. I don’t know how old you are but things have changed, and “getting a job and a flat” is no longer a simple and easy task.

          Mr. Pink

          1. Yeah, I was really lucky to get thrown out and have to fend for myself at 16. And I was lucky to have to work 2 sometimes 3 crap jobs to be able to pay for it. I was lucky to not be able to afford anything but food and immediate living costs till I was well into my 20’s. I was lucky to have to pay for myself to go to uni, and not have any support from my family.

            When I was a teenager, moaning about there not being enough buses to get a casual fvck was the last thing on my mind. I had to survive. And when I was 22, like you, unemployment was much worse, the economy/recession was much worse. Homophobia was much worse. You kids don’t know how lucky you are. Lucky you.

  16. GulliverUK 2 Aug 2013, 8:07pm

    Long-term you need to get out. I grew up in a rural coastal town in Cornwall, I had about a half dozen f**k buddies, although I was romantically attracted to two of them.

    I remember having a conversation with Simon, saying you do know we’ll have to leave this place and move to somewhere where we’re free to be ourselves, where we can meet others like us. He agreed. As soon as I finished higher education I headed for London. I didn’t get there right away, but I got to Sheffield, where there were a few gay pubs / clubs. Next, I managed to get to London, and I’ve been here ever since.

    I someone’s wonder if I would ever go back to my rural town, but it only takes a few moments to realise I never will. For some they will be able to make a life there work, but not me. I could move to Brighton at some point,, who knows.

    How many of us have moved to London / Manchester (or another big city) so we have more opportunities, so we can be ourselves, so we can be more open?

    1. You were having sex with 6 different guys? Why?

      1. GulliverUK 2 Aug 2013, 8:45pm

        Exploring my sexuality, and it wasn’t 6 different guys at the same time, although I wouldn’t see a problem if it were. It’s my life and I always live it as I see fit, and what seems right for me. There were other guys, but they weren’t regular, and there was no romantic attraction. We weren’t having fun / pleasure, like most young people do.

        What you might think of as right for you isn’t going to be what others think is right for them. Also, I’m talking about a different era. One without an Internet, without gay magazines, a very long time ago.

    2. GulliverUK 2 Aug 2013, 8:30pm

      There is one small problem. Living so far away from my parents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, I don’t get to see them that often, so that’s something to bear in mind. I remember when I went to away to study I missed my family incredibly for the first few months. Sometimes your best friends become you surrogate family as well as you best friends. My blood family is large and extended, and most live a stone’s throw from each other, and I see how they are so supportive of each other, they’ve always been like that, and I miss this support living so far away.

      But at the end of the day you have to follow your dreams, and if moving to the big smoke increases your chances of finding Mr Right, verses the far lower chances in a small rural town, then you have to decide what you want. I had a choice of being with my blood family or being with my LGBT family – I don’t regret the choice I made.

    3. I remember moving to London after escaping the countryside when I was a teenager and though it was paradise, then lived in Paris, then New York and thought I’d only ever be able to live in a city, and never though I’d ever move back to rural England. Now I live in the middle of nowhere with lots of land, a beautiful home that you couldn’t buy in a city, and can’t imagine ever living in a city again. You change as the years pass by. But thank god I escaped from the countryside when I was younger. It was the best thing I ever had forced upon me.

      1. GulliverUK 2 Aug 2013, 8:52pm

        Agreed. And it’s odd how these thoughts of whether I would ever go back to the beautiful countryside keep re-surfacing. For part of my youth I grew up on a farm, and the beach was very close, but I know that attitudes in these places won’t be acceptable to me. Maybe I’m wrong, and there are rural placing which are accepting. I’d love to heard from a same-sex couple who live in a rural community, whether they feel accepted. Do people in the big smoke feel accepted?

        1. I can’t quite answer, as I’m not a couple, but I’m gay and in a rural community and I feel just as accepted as I did when I wasn’t out.

          There’s also a gay couple in the village, who moved in together a few years ago, and I’ve never heard that they’ve had any problems. Everyone chats to them and everyone’s natural with them.

          The only problem comes from the fact that many straight people in rural villages haven’t met a gay person. It might sound unbelievable, but I didn’t meet an openly gay person for about 18 years! They then have preconceptions. But as long as you’re a pleasant person you’ll be welcomed in the majority of rural communities very quickly, Show them gay people are perfectly normal and pleasant! Even my Grandmother liked and accepted the gay couple in the village after having tea with them, and you don’t get more homophobic than her!

          I wouldn’t have said that 10 years ago, but I find most people are ready now to change their attitudes and have a more open mind.

  17. This article really upset me. After reading the comments, I am aware that others disagree, but I vehemently oppose the idea that “f*** buddies” are some kind of necessity, as if casual sex is a fundamental part of being a teenager. As a gay teenager myself, this is not a requirement and is a trap which I have witnessed so many of my friends fall into and get STIs. I probably sound judgemental, and believe me, I am trying not to be, but sex is not as important as this article makes out, nor is having a boyfriend at an early age. There is plenty of time to meet Mr. right. If this gets thumbed down, so be it, but that is my point of view coming from another gay teenager living in the country.

    1. GulliverUK 2 Aug 2013, 9:01pm

      Times have changed, and our expectations with them. We had no rights at all before, we have low expectations, and consequently lower self-esteem. We might have dreamed society would treat us as equals one day, but low expectations that this would ever happen. We sought out love, romance and sex as a discovery of who we were. Today, expectations, like they always were for straight people, are more defined. You’re gay, you grow up, get a job, find a mate, settle down, get married, perhaps even start a family. These things are now possible.

      Sex is never trivial, it’s always important, whether you are straight or gay. It can be just for pleasure, but I suspect that for most people it’s a search for the possibility that you might find your soulmate. Casual sex was fine when I was younger, but now my focus is on Mr Right, not sex. I just think young people have something to aim for now, when I was young you had no expectation that your relationship would be state-sanctioned .

      1. Thank you for your input, Gulliver, but I think you’ve missed my point entirely. The issue is not to do with rights or acceptance, or even with being gay. I have never had any trouble because of my sexuality, and I don’t even think about it that much.”Lower self esteem” is no longer an issue, because, as you said, “times have changed”.

        The massive problem with this article is that it treats ‘casual sex’ like food or drink. It suggests that gay teenagers in rural areas are somehow massively disadvantaged because they can’t find a “f*** buddy”. Casual sex is not something to be encouraged, not least because it contributes to STIs, some of which are more easily spread amongst gay men if protection is not used. If people want to do it, that’s their business, but my point is that it isn’t an essential part of being a teenager, contrary to popular belief. I personally detest the way it has been normalised when it can be so dangerous, which is why this article upset me.

        1. A heartfelt and thought provoking comment.

          For context may I ask what other reasons you have for opposing the normalisation of casual sex – other than the safety aspects?

          This has certainly been an issue in my relationships – nearly every one of my boyfriends had previously engaged in causal sex either outside a relationship, or on a first date. I, on the other hand, was uncomfortable even kissing on a first date – there’s a huge amount to be said for taking things slowly, getting to know each other, etc. – and it would only make sex more meaningful and enjoyable in the end.

          I know sex is the ultimate aim for many people, but to me that seems a pretty bleak view of what sex can be.

          1. Dear Seb,

            I agree with and second everything you have said. There is a lot to be said for taking things slowly, and this has a positive impact on future relationships.

            As for other reasons for opposing the normalisation of casual sex, a few more are to do with exactly what you yourself have described – sex becomes meaningless, and instead of being the ultimate way of showing someone you love and trust them, it simply becomes a form of physical exercise, cheapening it considerably. The normalisation of casual sex also makes it a quasi-requirement of being a teenager and, thus, it makes it very difficult for those that wish to wait in social circles. I found it really interesting reading the comments on this article, which show how my views are in the minority. People can of course, do what they want with their bodies. I just wish that casual sex wasn’t seen as such an essential part of being a teenager. It’s not.

        2. I didn’t lose my virginity until 18, a lot older than most of my friends. I felt left out and like I missed out on a lot and a big part of teenage life. Sex is fun, as long as you’re safe, what’s the problem? I had a hard time making sexual or romantic attractions for years because I still wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality. Now I’m 22, and a lot more comfortable. I definitley don’t sleep around, but I just hooked up with a guy a couple of hours ago for casual sex and you know what? It was great ! In 22 years I never felt good or comfortable about sex, and now that I’ve finally ‘caught up’ and can enjoy it, I want to get as much as possible ! I feel I owe it to my younger self, and considering it was illegal for centuries, I think we should be having (safe) sex as much as we can, because we’ve been denied the fun and frolics straight people enjoyed for so long. Everytime we f**k – we win ! So much shame, so much hatred towards our sex… any successful hook up is a triumph!

          1. If casual sex isn’t for you I totally understand, but most teenagers and young adults are horny buggers ! And as long as you’re safe, sex is a great way to let off steam, meet new people, and have fun. So many gay guys are made to feel ashamed and called sluts for enjoying casual sex but straight men are worshiped for it, it’s just not fair ! If a gay guy has the confidence to go and get him some when he wants, more power to him. He’s doing it for all the guys who can’t :)

            Mr. Pink

          2. Colin (London) 6 Aug 2013, 6:48pm

            Mr Pink

            You sound as if you are justifying yourself. You don’t have to at all. We can all choose our paths in life. Aren’t we so lucky. Enjoy your body and mind. To me I feel we are only on this wonderful planet for a short time and should experience everything it has to offer…safely.

            I was 28 before coming out and 29 for my first man sex. Been a safe bad boy including a great 10 year relationship that sadly ended.

            Live your way but care for the ones you interact with.

    2. I totally agree with you Ralityz – why do these people think a f**k buddy is an important part of teenage life?! I really don’t understand it. If you asked straight teenagers if they have/want a f**k buddy – I doubt the percentage would be high? And Justin is making it seem like gay male teenagers are entitled to a f**k buddy and are being treated unfairly by society/government because they cannot get one! It’s ridicules really…

      1. Thank you for that comment! I can’t tell you how much happier it makes me to read that :) At uni, I have a few friends who have “f**k buddies”, but they are certainly not in the majority. They are often people who either have low self-esteem, or desperately want a long-term relationship but are unable to sustain one, so sleep around. There are exceptions to this, of course, but that is my experience.

        I know right! A “f**k buddy” isn’t an entitlement. It was borderline distressing to read an article which suggested that gay teenagers which lived in the country were somehow missing out because they couldn’t have casual sex as easily. To me it’s just crazy. I think I would find it quite difficult to be with a guy who admitted to having had casual sex with lots of different guys. If sex meant nothing with all those guys, why would it mean anything with me?

        Again, thanks for commenting x

    3. Spanner1960 3 Aug 2013, 3:04pm

      Casual sex may not be a necessity, but it is not a trap either; people are responsible for their own health, sexual or otherwise, so better to be clued up on the potential risks before indulging.

  18. Totes amaze article, TEAM JUSTIN ALLEN!!!!!!

  19. This article raises some valid points, but why has it been written as if it’s something the government should sort out? If living in a rural area is a problem for young people, regardless of sexual orientation, then the simple answer is to move to a big city as soon as you can.

  20. Derek Colebrook 3 Aug 2013, 1:10am

    I share Justins frustrations. When I grew up in rural NZ I experienced similar feelings of being mentally alone.
    This condition leads to some ” bizarre” behaviours. Rural NZ had some very homophobic attitudes,thankfully now receding with the passing of the new law regarding homosexual marriage.

  21. West Country? I noticed the misspelling of “farmer” as “former”, which I read can still be found in parts of the West Country. Also, old-fashioned people also pronounce “former” like “farmer” here in Utah, which (outside of lovely urban Salt Lake and the ski resorts) is more like 75 years behind the societal norm.

    1. That is to say, I noticed the misspelling of “farmer” as “former” hinting at his accent. And me, enjoying accent studies, remembered that that can still be found in parts of the West Country.

  22. Liam Willis 3 Aug 2013, 9:24am

    Seems pretty pointless to me. And for the love of all that is holy, can Pink News PLEASE sort out its sub-editing. The punctuation and sentence structure in this is appalling.

  23. Justin, I feel you that, understandably, you have taken the idea of a reliable neighbourhood mate, always on hand for mutual sexual pleasure, and turned it into a fantasy. Please know it’s only that: a fantasy.

    Please know that there are very very few people living in built-up areas, like the big cities, who have such a person “on tap”.

    The 2011 film/DVD “Weekend” will give you a much more accurate picture of the sad situation of most young gay men living in “the big smoke”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekend_%282011_film%29

    Best Wishes.

    1. Sorry, should have proof-read before posting. “Just, I feel that you, understandably, have taken the idea of a reliable neighbourhood mate . . . “

      1. I disagree. The film ‘Weekend’ bears no similarity to my life as a life long Londoner (and my friends for that matter). As much as I enjoyed it, I don’t think it’s representative of the lives that all young gay men lead, especially in London. It felt very ‘provincial’

  24. Also, think about all the amazing things about GROWING UP in a rural area. I stress the words growing up because it is really such a fantastic place to be when going though school age. From my bedroom window all I can see is trees, rolling hills and farms – a beautiful panoramic – instead of high-rise flats and double-decker buses. The schools in rural areas are generally better, there are lower crime rates, people tend to be kinder and there is more a sense of community. My family used to take in children from London over the summer holidays. I remember a 13 year old girl who didn’t know what a potato was and when driving down the roads was in awe that there was so much green around. So before you poo-poo your childhood out in the sticks, appreciate what it gave you and how lucky your were.

  25. Spanner1960 3 Aug 2013, 3:01pm

    An excellent and articulate article.
    It has to be difficult living out in the sticks and making friends at all, let alone gay ones.

    Might I suggest http://www.outeverywhere.com as an alternative? They have lots of meet-ups and groups which don’t revolve around sex, yet you never know what might happen, and actually have a “gay community” for once.

    1. There is a gay community – you’re just not part of it.

  26. I think that there were some good points raised in this article, and of course not everyone will have the same perspectives on casual sex. I would like to say that even in very well connected areas it can still be difficult to meet guys not through a lack of guys but from the fact that even if young gay people’s parents are accepting of their orientation they might not allow random guys staying over. If you are attracted to other young people this is often a problem.

  27. I can’t believe this was allowed to be published
    This is honestly talking about hurrying young people into having casual sex?
    Already in society there is a massive pressure to have sex too early
    I personally grew up in a small town, no other gays my school of which I know off, even 8 yrs after finishing. Yet I wasn’t clawing up the walls for a shag, sure I was on faceparty; now that’s a blast from the past, to chat to other gay guys over the internet.
    We shouldn’t be telling kids whether gay, straight or anything to be seeking physical relations but for them to discover who they really are and who they could love, and if that leads them to physical relations when they are ready for it so be it whether that’s 15 or 35. Sure it can be ostracising being in the countryside n gay but so can it if you’re fat, geeky, non-Christian, ugly, or even just too tall so just enjoy the things you can like fam n friend and if you meet someone special, casual or not have a great time while it last

  28. Justin your problem is no different than any other young gay person’s now or throughout the ages. But at least you have the option of coming out now without tremendous societal backlash or being burned at the stake or fed to the dogs. And you do have the internet which makes meeting others far, far, far easier than it was when I was your age and didn’t have it. Not that you don’t have my sympathy and empathy, you do. Although I did grow up in a suburban area and did have a couple guys I messed around with (who eventually turned out to be straight AFAIK) starting as early as age 11-12, I now live in the Midwest of the U.S. where attitudes and acceptance due to religion is much less accepting and accommodating than what I’ve been used to most of my life being near L.A. And it’s hard meeting people I have much if anything in common with even without the desire for sex involved. If you’re really that horny I’m sure there are willing straight guys around who’d be…
    (con’t.)

  29. (con’t.)

    willing to let you play with them – although I wouldn’t necessarily suggest trying that route as you never know when you’ll meet up with a violent ‘phobe.

    If you aren’t able to meet someone online then your only option may be to just wait until you can move to a larger city. But that’s OK… you’ll have plenty of time for playing with other guys when you’re a little older. Just remember to always play safe!

  30. I couldn’t agree more with this article. Living in a rural area like Cornwall where there’s an ever-present lingering aura of slight homophobia, isn’t easy. Adding in the lack of cheap driving instructors; dodgy, non-existent buses and very few out LGBT people, let alone teen LGBT people; growing up in rural areas is tough.

    You don’t really get to have those “teenage experiences”. I’m almost 21, and I only had my first genuine relationship last year and handled it poorly as I’d not had it when I should have – as a teenager.

    So although I’m not an advocate of casual sex (not against it either, though) it’s most likely about the only sexual experiences rural LGBT teens would get, as finding someone who’s also your orientation is like finding a piece of hay in a stack of needles; but finding someone who you connect with, have a spark with, have common interests with, can actually build something meaningful and honest and beyond mere sexual encounters with; is beyond impossible…

  31. Well I can understand where the OP is coming from! Growing up as a lesbian teenager in the Nineties, not only was Section 28 still in force, so my schoolteachers were unable to advise me, even if I had felt able to talk to them, I was The Only Gay in the Village. First thing I did was get myself a motorbike as soon as I was 17. Even cheapo scabby held-together-by-mud and rust-transport with an engine is better than having to bicycle 3 mile to the nearest bus stop (one that actually had a bus service…)
    Seriously, as soon as you can afford it, get some kind of powered transport. Once you have a car or bike, you’ll never look back :)

  32. Even in the smallest village or community, you will not be the ONLY gay. Being a part of a small community means being integrated and forming networks. The farmer, or the two women who live together may not call themselves gay, but in rural communities there is a code – mind your own business. If its not talked about, it doesnt mean that it doesnt exist, but rainbow bubbles can’t exist in the rural community. Rather than being the gay man, your the man who works in the small shop, plays on the local team, goes to church, makes good home brew….and is gay. In the country gay isnt a primary identification. Its just another thing about you. Its easy to mistake an experience of inclusive community with homophobia when its not discussed. But when it is discussed the world wont change. People will acknowledge it but you wont change. You wont become ‘the gay man’ because in the country a man is more than one label.

  33. …and you’d be surprised how much ‘well John down the road’ style matchmaking goes on in the country when your a bit more out. Sometimes country people surprise you. About a year ago, in my quite rural community two school boys came out as a gay couple. I was very pessimistic and there was a lot of fear for their well being. But nothing happened. No violence, homophobia, social exclusion and universal support from their peers and community… Up until then I still had a negative opinion of the country for gay people. Now I don’t. The country didn’t change in the process – we just added another fact about the two local boys to what we already knew about them, and nothing terrible happened. No apocalypse, no indignation. Just an expression of ‘oh, that’s nice’ and back to life as we know it.

  34. I think this is a good point as I live in rural pembrokeshire wales and there seems to be no gay people where I live until I found dyfed dinners a gay dining club didnt know many gay people but I think finding a relationship in a rural community is more important also there is always going to be a problem with transport for rural comunities but it can be worked out!!

  35. am a rural gay guy in pembrokeshire not really out but also not in but have recieved no homophobic comments also in a relaitionship with a great guy
    my website for rural gay people is

    http://ruralgay.yolasite.com/

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