This morning WEKU aired a segment titled “Growing Up Gay in Rural Kentucky” on their program Morning Edition. This segment featured men and women from eastern Kentucky and those attending school at Eastern Kentucky University.
Growing up in a rural area it’s difficult for a young person because you don’t have other people to identify with. Your parents, they’re straight, your brother, he’s straight, too and then if you go to church that’s not going to be discussed regularly, and if it is you’re going to hear something like homosexuality is a sin, if you’re thinking about it you’d better quit. -Farah Ardeshir
The research shows and what I have seen is students who are dealing with their sexual identity are more apt to suffer from depression, are more apt to attempt self-harm, are more apt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol just because there are those feelings of self-isolation, rejection. -Eef Fontanez, high school counselor (Berea)
Watch the following 15 minute short film from the Appalachian Media Institute (an affiliate with EKRHP and Appalshop) featuring some young people from southeastern Kentucky who grew up in the region and reside here as of the making of this film.
Exploring ones sexuality in rural America (or anywhere for that matter) is not always an easy proposition. However, humans are most of the time sexual beings and will desire to explore their sexuality. What should be guaranteed is that this can be done in a safe environment, and that the person exploring has enough information to protect themselves and their partner/s from negative consequences of unhealthy sexual exploration. Read more about sexuality at EKRHP.
For more information on supporting young people who identify as LGBTQ, visit the It Gets Better Project.