» » Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest

ePub Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest download

by Will Fellows

ePub Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest download
Will Fellows
University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (August 15, 1996)
Social Sciences
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Homosexuality is often seen as a purely urban experience, far removed from rural and small-town life. Farm Boys undermines that cliche by telling the stories of more than three dozen gay men, ranging in age from 24 to 84, who grew up in farm families in the midwestern United States. Whether painful, funny, or matter-of-fact, these plain-spoken accounts will move and educate any reader, gay or not, from farm or city.     “When I was fifteen, the milkman who came to get our milk was beautiful. This is when I was really getting horny to do something with another guy. I waited every day for him to come. I couldn’t even talk to him, couldn’t think of anything to say. I just stood there, watching him, wondering if he knew why.”—Henry Bauer, Minnesota     “When I go back home, I feel a real connection with the land—a tremendous feeling, spiritual in a way. It makes me want to go out into a field and take my shoes off and put my feet right on the dirt, establish a real physical connection with that place. I get homesick a lot, but I don’t know if I could ever go back there and live. It’s not the kind of place that would welcome me if I lived openly, the way that I would like to live. I would be shunned.”—Martin Scherz, Nebraska     “If there is a checklist to see if your kid is queer, I must have hit every one of them—all sorts of big warning signs. I was always interested in a lot of the traditional queen things—clothes, cooking, academics, music, theater. A farm boy listening to show tunes? My parents must have seen it coming.”—Joe Shulka, Wisconsin     “My favorite show when I was growing up was ‘The Waltons’. The show’s values comforted me, and I identified with John-Boy, the sensitive son who wanted to be a writer. He belonged there on the mountain with his family, yet he sensed that he was different and that he was often misunderstood. Sometimes I still feel like a misfit, even with gay people.”—Connie Sanders, Illinois     “Agriculture is my life. I like working with farm people, although they don’t really understand me. When I retire I want the word to get out [that I’m gay] to the people I’ve worked with—the dairy producers, the veterinarians, the feed salesmen, the guys at the co-ops. They’re going to be shocked, but their eyes are going to be opened.”—James Heckman, Indiana
  • The life of the urban gay man is the one we see on screen, the one marching at Pride festivals, and the one given the most exposure.

    Here Will Fellows collects the life stories of the men who grew up in the farm lands of America's rural midwest, and this catalogue of lives from men who more often than not grew up in strict German homes where sexuality (and certainly not homosexuality) were not discussed is a fascinating mixture. The stories range from brutal accounts to some that sound almost idyllic, and shows how these men feel their very different upbringing shaped them.

    The accounts are chronological, and show not only the changing acceptance of gay men (slow, and hidden) but also the loss of the old-style farms with their variety of livestock and crops to great business farms with only one product.

  • Very personal accounts of growing up gay on a farm. Would that I had found this book sooner! I identified with the innate struggle that all these men went through as I spent the first 18 years of my life on a crop and 50 herd diary farm. I relished and reminisced with the pleasure and pain, and as with many of these men I know cherish that way of life. The style of writing was a bit awkward as it was not always chronologically told. A story would start in childhood, advance to adulthood and then revert back to the earlier years. But still not bothersome enough to rate it any lower than it's worthy five-stars.

  • I really enjoyed reading this collection of stories very much and learned quite a bit about lives of gay men who grew up on farms. Some of them went into more detail about farm life than others--some of them told more about their lives AFTER leaving the farm, but all in all they were real interesting. I've got to hand it to every one of them, I don't know if I could have 'cut it' on a farm. Suppose I wouldn't of had a choice if I had been born to a farm family--but I certainly do see where these fellas have a 'hard row to hoe' (yes, a pun but still serious) because if they DO like farm life, they wouldn't have such a good life being gay. So I can see where most of them would end up leaving. How could you live an open life?? I think someone growing up on a farm would have a much stronger viewpoint on life. It would be kind of like growing up during the Depression at any age or time period. So physical and demanding--nothing happening or getting done unless YOU do it!! Not like the urban city life I was born into. I really hand it to farm people and gained a new respect for them. They can proclaim like the Marines...."the few, the proud".

  • Farm Boys includes the first person narratives of gay men who grew up on farms in the Midwest. Begun as a sociological study, the book is an excellent glimpse into the lives of rural gay men and their perceptions of their urban brothers.
    Divided into three parts (men born early in the century, those born after WWII but before Stonewall, and those born after Stonewall), these narratives of varying length show how each succeeding group came to grips with being gay without the assistance of role models, help groups, or even knowledge that other men and boys like them lived in the same area as they.
    Although there are some differences that separate the three groups, some common themes were shared by most. One, most of these rural men gave up their religious beliefs, but not their spirituality. They saw organized faiths as being hypocritical and having a facade, but this was not enough to cause them to doubt the exsistance of a god. Two, many of these men grew up in families that could be classified as "don't talk, don't feel," especially when the subject was sex. Left on their own, many felt obligated to get married because they knew of no other way. And three, once they realized they were gay, this epiphany type revelation about themselves was often very self liberating.
    Also of interest to me was the references to how media, such as Time Magazine, Life Magazine, and other outlets, addressed the topic of homosexuality 30 and 40 years ago, and how that portrayal continues to change. More of us being out, obviously, has had a cummulative effect to everyone's benefit, and will continue to do so.
    A marvelous book, and highly recommended for anyone interested in the lives and history of gay men.

  • The stories told in "Farm Boys" are sometimes touching, sometimes funny, sometimes sexy and virtually always compelling. The loneliness which an emerging gay personality must feel in the solitude that characterizes most American farms must be overbearing at times. A key element in many of the stories told in this book is families which do not and cannot understand homosexuality until it comes to roost at home. Another is the strong religious background which many of the men have faced and dealt with. Not all of the stories end happily -- one of the men, for example, committed suicide shortly after the interview with him was completed. But most of the tales are affirmations of personal confidence and development, and they are bracing even to those of us who feel that the best thing about the countryside is that it is possible to return to the city from it, preferably immediately. Will Fellows has added an important contribution to gay male history, and he is to be highly praised for it. Even greater praise, however, must go to the men who have forthrightly told their tales, many of them reporting along the way that their communities are still not aware of their sexuality. That takes bravery, as does the ability to look deeply into one's own life and background. What a wonderful book.