The “Rural Queers” project was a youth exchange organized by Asociación Brújula Intercultural in Belorado, Spain, that aimed to empower active citizenship among LGBTQIA+ youth and allies, with a special focus on youth from rural areas, villages, small-towns, and suburban neighborhoods.
Throughout history, rural spaces have held multiple meanings and served various functions for LGBTQIA+individuals and communities, ranging from sites for political organizing or sanctuary to sites of repression and violence for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Many popular representations of rurality as well as anti-LGBTQIA+ discourse citing “protecting rural values” suggest these communities intrinsically place a heightened value on “traditional moral standards”. Thus, communities in rural areas are associated with a lower tolerance for difference compared to urban environments. Some queer-identified individuals living in rural areas do experience antagonism, oppression, and violence matching the stereotypical representation of what it means to be queer in a rural community.
During the exchange, the participants achieved the following goals:
- Ensured participation of LGBTQIA+ youth and allies from rural context, villages, suburban and peripheral areas;
- Offered a safe space where participants can share personal experiences and learn from others;
- Investigated the binomial of queer identity and rural areas in depth;
- Provided a safe space for the subversion of socially rooted stereotypes;
- Shared information about LGBTQIA+ rights in different European countries, kinds of activism and the use of social media tools to raise awareness;
- Generated an impact around Belorado and, in general, around rural areas of the province of Burgos, through activities related to exchange, freedom of expression, respect of diversity and visibility of the queer community;
- Promoted critical thinking around the representation of LGBTQIA+ in social media;
- Reflected on how the media influences the perception of ourselves and other groups;
- Analysed and create digital contents to implement different forms of activism through social media and in specific rural realities;
- Promoted local, national and international activism and empower young people to defend their rights.