Samantha Allen traveled thousands of miles looking for thriving queer individuals and communities in America’s most conservative states. She found them. And in telling their stories and her own, she overturns many of the narratives held by those of us in coastal cities. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A transgender reporter's inspiring narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states, celebrating LGBT survival and activism and offering a vision of a stronger, more humane America.
Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. Now she's a senior Daily Beast reporter happily married to another woman. A lot in her life has changed, but what hasn't changed is her deep love of Red State America, and of queer people who stay in so-called "flyover country" rather than moving to the liberal coasts.
In Real Queer America, Allen takes us on a cross-country road-trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: "Something gay every day." Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas history to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more.
Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, Real Queer America is a treasure trove of uplifting stories and a much-needed source of hope and inspiration in these divided times.
"Real Queer America is a delight to read...an engrossing journey full of humor, vulnerability, insight, and joy. What results is a beautiful tapestry of, well, the real queer America... Real Queer America is well-written and well-researched, and it's a blast to read, but perhaps its most essential question is that of how complicit 'blue state' LGBTQ people are in dismissing red states as scary places for queers. The whole world is scary, for queers and for everyone. Perhaps Real Queer America will inspire the reader to be more involved in fighting discrimination everywhere." Rewire
"In this clever combination of easy travelogue and thoughtful exploration of queerness in America, journalist Allen retraces her transformation from a Mormon missionary in Utah to a transgender woman living happily in rural Florida...Queer readers will nod knowingly at the descriptions of finding gay-friendly hangouts and questioning whether public hand-holding is safe in a new area, and readers without that experience will still enjoy Allen's charming, humorous recounting of the ultimate road trip through rainbow-colored America." Publishers Weekly
"I love Samantha Allen! Her voice is an essential part of the movement and a new brand of queer hero for these dark times. In the face of the alt-right and crypto fascists, I say- Queeros Assemble!" Lilly Wachowski, co-writer and co-director of The Matrix trilogy and co-creator of the GLAAD Award winning Netflix series Sense8
"Samantha Allen's America is filled with buoyant queer people in supposedly red states living their lives with resilience and joy. This moving journey starts out in Utah — but Allen's road ultimately takes the reader to the center of her heart. Surprising, inspiring, and thoughtful." Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and Long Black Veil
"Allen argues that queerness thrives everywhere, perhaps even more so in states like Indiana, Texas, and Tennessee, precisely because there's still so much advocacy work to do. Allen's openness about her personal story — including growing up Mormon, living an angst-filled double life in Provo, coming out as transgendered, meeting her wife in an elevator at the Kinsey Institute, and undergoing surgery to get a vagina — invites respect. She writes with loving curiosity about other people in the LGBTQ community and blends this with national-level reporting on political and historical LGBTQ issues." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Real Queer America is a book necessary for anyone in — or allied with — the queer community, especially those of us who see the bad news day after day. [Allen is] sharing the beauty of the spaces that LGBTQ+ people have carved out for themselves, and she's giving credit where credit is very much overdue, because it's the queer folk who live and stay in red states — whether by choice or due to a lack of options — who have to survive there and work to make them better." Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Samantha Allen is a GLAAD Award-winning journalist and the author of Love & Estrogen (Amazon Original Stories). She is a senior reporter for The Daily Beast covering LGBT issues and a former Sex + Life reporter for Fusion. She received her Ph.D. in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University in 2015 and was the 2013 recipient of the Kinsey Institute's John Money Fellowship for Scholars of Sexology. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and NPR's On the Media. She met her wife in a Kinsey Institute elevator--a true queer love story.