Clare Forstie, “Queering the Midwest: Forging LGBTQ Community” (NYU Press, 2022)

Drag shows that test the capacity of bars persist alongside wishes for stronger community among River City’s LGBTQ population. In this examination of LGBTQ community in a small, Midwestern city, Clare Forstie highlights the ambivalence of LGBTQ lives in the rural Midwest. Drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnographic research, and friendship mapping, Forstie reveals the ways that community spaces are disappearing and emerging, LGBTQ people feel safe and unrecognized, and friendships do and don’t matter. In this community, non-LGBTQ allies are essential support for their LGBTQ friends and organizations, but, sometimes, their support comes at a cost. Those who find they feel most comfortable and safe also align with community norms, forming with and connecting to families and identities that are the majority in River City. 

In Queering the Midwest: Forging LGBTQ Community (NYU Press, 2022), Forstie offers the story of a community that does not fit neatly into a narrative of progress or decline. Rather, it’s a little bit of both. Forstie’s ambivalent community framework reveals the ways we might think about our communities and relationships more authentically, embracing the contradictions that inform the possibilities for change.

Clayton Jarrard is a Research Project Coordinator at the University of Kansas Center for Research, contributing to initiatives at the nexus of research, policy, and community efforts. His scholarly engagement spans the subject areas of cultural anthropology, queer studies, disability studies, mad studies, and religious studies.

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