I’ve recently realized that the standard advice for closeted small-town queers is really fucking shitty. You see, the advice that gets given is “hide who you are until you can get the hell out of Dodge and never come back.” And, while it’s a valid survival strategy, it’s neither good nor complete.
First off, it’s the kind of advice given by the kind of people who don’t understand why anyone would want to live in a small town, and assume you’ll be all “Holy shit, the city is awesome!” instead of completely lost and overwhelmed. In my experience, the city is hellish for someone used to a small town—you suddenly don’t know anyone, you can’t sleep because you’re packed into the walls of a building, stacked on top of each other like rats, and when you’re awake, you can’t function outside because it’s too busy and overwhelming. And that’s all assuming you don’t get run over in the first few days because where you’re from, people stop for jaywalkers.
Secondly, it’s the kind of advice that guarantees we’re still going to be giving that advice in 40 years. Think about it. If all the queers lay low and run away from the hills, all the people in the hills are now the people who made the queers run away. Yes, there’s some slow change, but it’s very, very slow, and nearly impossible to tell who’s made the change, and who’s still a gigantic bigot.
There’s better advice to be given. “Lay low for now” is solid. It’s simply a way to survive. The problem is with “then run away and never look back.” I suggest we replace it with something else. Perhaps better advice would be “Lay low until you don’t need their support, and even then it won’t be easy, but you can run away if you need to.”