Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Notes from the Queer Hillbilly Underground

By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

I do my damnedest to put up a bad bitch front but I can’t lie to you dearest motherfuckers, sometimes it really hurts to be a Queer anarchist in Trump Country. The pay is shit, the hours are endless, and retirement usually involves a hate crime and a pinewood box. I’m a minority committed to poor people who is surrounded by poor people who are all too often committed to erasing that minority.

I spend half my time trying to remind other Queer people that the state won’t protect us and the other half trying to convince hillbillies that the state doesn’t represent Queer people. This isn’t exactly easy when the feds drape themselves in rainbow flags to prove their newfound benevolence while they continue to secretly ferry us fairies away to glorified concentration camps for the high crime of survival sex. But just try explaining the complexities of assimilation and FOSTA-SESTA to your local Rust Belt militia and wait for the eyes to roll.

It’s a shit job, but I actually feel like I was making some assemblance of progress in building bottom unity across these tribal divisions before the Republicans decided to double-down on QAnon style transphobia for the Midterms. Even supposedly moderate Republicrats have adopted demonizing gender outlaws like me by labeling us as groomers and pedophiles and too many conservative libertarians on the fringe have boughten into this horseshit hook, line and sinker. I don’t think that words exist in any language that can properly display the horror that I feel in the pit of my soul when people that I have spent years trying to convince to become allies start throwing these sickening words around.

I, like way too many trans people that I know, am a survivor of child abuse who lives with the wreckage of PTSD every fucking day because some pedophile in a white collar taught a genderless 7-year-old child that their body’s failure to comply with their soul put them in the same category as your garden variety rapist. Building solidarity among various oppressed classes is kind of a lot to carry when some of them insist on triggering emotional flashbacks with absurd conspiracy theories. That weight becomes downright crushing after five of your people are shot dead in Colorado based on the same bullshit. But I refuse to blame the Republicans alone for this sickness. I blame the entire bipartisan system that is built on dividing poor people against each other.

In today’s America, every person who hangs below the one percent has become some other poor person’s enemy and the solution to every enemy always seems to be the same. So called conservatives like Tucker Carlson and JD Vance bitch non-stop about the existential threat posed to traditional rural values by lecherous undocumented workers and vile grooming drag queens before suggesting that somehow the conservative solution to these paper tigers is to grow the federal government with steroids by militarizing the border like the DMZ and granting civil servants the authority to kidnap trans kids from loving parents and hurling them into the jaws of the foster care system.

Johnny-come-Trumpers like Mr. Vance, a Wall Street hustler who built a career on demonizing the rural poor of his native Appalachia, call this crap Christian Nationalism but what it really amounts to is old school progressive social engineering with a side of Uzis handed out to those fine folks who torched Waco so long as they promise to toss a few fags onto the fire after the next siege.

And when this campaign to scapegoat some of the most powerless people in the country gives some pissed-off kid on the edge a convenient excuse to dress his naked nihilism up in moral fortitude by shooting up his local Queer bar, it’s the Democrats turn to do the demonizing. They blame this high-powered campaign to market big government as a family value on everyday MAGA Republicans like my mother who may have been foolish enough to fall for Trump’s bullshit but would gladly throw herself before any bigot’s bullet to protect her loud weird Queer daughter.

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