There is a geography to desire, and a queerness in rural life. This research will expand on this observation, looking at the queer affects, practices and relations found in rural areas. Scholarly work has long looked to urban centres as places where queer sex flourishes, implying that sex needs to be seen and performed in order to be understood. These highly-structured and performative ideas of ‘urbanity’ and ‘sex’ are challenged in this research, which attempts to find the ‘grey’ areas between sexual and non-sexual, somewhere and nowhere; and which stages an intervention into the literature, asserting the queerness of non-metropolitan, ‘green’ areas.
Both non-metropolitan areas and non-sexual relations have been defined by lack or absence, yet through qualitative and creative methods, this research shows a richness of queer, spatial experiences and feelings that are distinct from dominant ideas of urban sexuality and worthy of study themselves. The research focusses on affects and relationships in rural gay, lesbian and queer networks that are distinct from sexuality, for example friendship, intimacy, romance, bachelorhood et cetera. I refer to these affects henceforth as ‘nonsexual’. This approach will conclude upon the nature of space, sexuality, desire, absence and relations more broadly, contributing to queer theory, cultural geography and rural sociology in particular, but with relevance universally too.
One cannot adequately conceptualise the nonsexuality of the rural, or the geography of nonsexual queerness without the present research. It provides a mixed-methods approach including participant observation, non-structured and mobile interviews, autoethnography, and the creation of collaborative video portraits of participants. Novel and creative in both topic and methodology, the research is well suited to the University of Brighton, which has relevant research clusters such as the Centre for Transforming Gender and Sexuality, and a number of current postgraduate research projects that mix queer and creative approaches.