Samantha Allen’s book Real Queer America is an inspiring, optimistic, heartfelt letter to fellow queer folks living in red states in the United States. But it’s also incredibly informative (and gently corrective) to cishet liberals living in blue states. You know, the people who tend to look down from their high horse, putting us on their personal “no travel” lists, making assumptions about what life is like in conservative areas of the country.
Allen’s book offers a more realistic perspective on queer life in Red State America than the media prefers to show (and for that matter, a more honest perspective on life in blue and swing states, too). She shows us how these places and the people in them are so much more than a headline. It was a joy to take this road trip with her—to read about her own experiences as a trans person in all the places she’s lived and traveled, and the connections she’s made with others along the way.
I especially enjoyed the section where she’s in Mississippi, because my spouse and I went to college, lived, and worked there, and have since gone back a number of times (it’s one of our favorite places). Although we’re no longer in Mississippi, we do still live in the Bible Belt. It’s not perfect, because no place is, but we really do love it here. Everything Allen writes in this book lined up with our own experiences, and it was a nice reminder that we have something special right where we are.
I love how she spoke to so many different people! There’s a wonderful message throughout that your identity is valid, period, and it just felt like a big hug. Allen shows readers that, when your numbers are small and you only have each other, a deep, authentic, diverse queer community is created—and this community gets things done.
(You can listen to an audiobook excerpt of Real Queer America on Hachette Audio’s SoundCloud.)
Giveaway: Win a Copy of REAL QUEER AMERICA
Little, Brown was kind enough to send me an extra copy of REAL QUEER AMERICA for one of my readers! Contest is open to U.S. readers only, and will run through this Friday, February 22 (closes at 11:59 p.m. Central time). Enter below for a chance to win!