Notes from the Queer Hillbilly Underground

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.

Naturally, the Democrats’ solution to the threat of the terrified hayseeds that Fox News manipulates is to manipulate terrified Queer people like me into growing the same federal government that breaks the backs of minorities on the Prison Industrial Complex with another heaping helping of tax-funded steroids. They dress it up as social justice but they’re really just endowing those fine fag bashers in law enforcement with more totally arbitrary powers. These come in the form of federal hate crime legislation and red flag laws that afford them the ability to hurl decades onto prison sentences and strip anyone they deem a threat to the state or others of their basic constitutional rights with little more than a rubber stamp from a hanging judge.

Are you sensing a theme here? Behind door number one is insane amounts of state power in the name of poor white trash and behind door number two is insane amounts of state power in the name of poor pink trash! Our cup runneth over! Either way, the same fucking people get shiny new toys to shoot us all in the back with every time we get another massacre and I’m starting have serious doubts that this is all just another fantastic coincidence.

The left talks a lot about the notion of stochastic terrorism, the practice of the mass media stoking violence through the constant demonization of one marginalized group or another in order to foster the rise of fascism. I used to call bullshit on this theory, mostly because the solution provided for it usually involved some form of censorship, but now I’m starting to think the liberals are on to something here. Only, I don’t think the goal is to incite fascism. Take a look around you, honey, we’re already there.

The real goal of this bipartisan terror campaign is to create a visceral climate of division and stasis so poor people of every persuasion are too busy demonizing each other to realize that we are all being played by the same government that robs us all blind and uses our pocket change to blow shit up in other countries. I call this concept stochastic statism and it’s as old as Bacon’s Rebellion. The only reason twisted little bugaboos like white supremacy and the gender binary even exist is because powerful people made them up to keep different tribes of desperate people at each other’s throats and some of these tribes have way more than just class in common.

I may be a decadently demented genderfuck provocateur, but I risk my own safety to live outside the closet in the sticks for a reason. I do it because I also happen to be a fucking hillbilly and believe it or not, I’m not the only hick outside of the gender binary. My found family of pink trash misfit toys live in old farmhouses and double-wides. I love guns and pick-up trucks and Patsi Kline every bit as much as I love pegging and glitter and Rocky Horror and I’d much rather spend my next birthday at Dollywood than Disneyland provided I can perform “Jolene” in full drag. This is who I am and I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

The only really hard thing about being a Queer Hillbilly is the fact that these two overlapping communities hate each other so damn much when they have so much in common. We all just want to live free and raise hell without some thug with a government paycheck climbing up our ass. I don’t think that this should be too much to ask for, but the state does, and they are using their tools in the corporate media to divide us up even if they have to kill us to do it because their precious empire is finally crumbling beneath its own weight and the angry serfs can smell the blood in the water. They can’t kill us all, so they have us killing each other and then begging the state to save us from ourselves. It’s a trap and it’s one that I’ve devoted my meager pink trash existence to exposing even if I have to get hate-crimed in the process.

In the age of Ozymandias, every poor person has been transformed into some other poor person’s other. If poor people are going to survive this collapse and thrive on the ruins, we’re going to have to turn off the fucking news and work together and I refuse to believe that this is impossible. Sometimes it hurts like hell to be a Queer anarchist in Trump Country, but somebody has to be fierce enough to bring Stonewall to the hoedown. I’ll supply the Molotovs if you mix the cocktails and together, we can finish what Bacon started and burn Jamestown to the fucking ground.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.