Author Samantha Allen's Road Trip Through Red States Reveals LGBT Communities Everywhere

Mar 5, 2019

Author and journalist Samantha Allen wanted to go beyond the headlines in her new book, "Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States."

"Often the stories we hear are just, 'Oh, this anti-LGBT law got passed' or 'This anti-LGBT law got stopped,' and we're not really seeing what's happening on the ground," said Allen.

From Provo, Utah, to Atlanta, Georgia, Allen's book explores the reasons why LGBT people stay and work for change in their communities, even when said communities might not openly accept or welcome them. Allen joined "On Second Thought" to discuss what her road trip taught her about the meaning of family and home.

In the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Allen met with LGBT organizations like Aquí Estamos to hear about their efforts to protect undocumented LGBT immigrants.

"Here they can be on 'the ground floor' of LGBT activism, as they call it, even if it sometimes feels like they are invisible to the rest of the country," Allen wrote.

George Longoria, a nonbinary genderqueer person who also lives in the Rio Grande Valley, told Allen: "We're like cactuses down here, we have to grow in the hard places."

Allen also discussed her love of Atlanta ("the best place to be queer or bi or trans in the country"), the importance of college LGBT centers in helping her own coming out process in her twenties and how she hopes her book helps build understanding between communities.

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