Real Queer America

LGBT Stories from Red States
Narrated by: Samantha Allen
Length: 7 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (95 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A transgender reporter's narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states, 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.

©2019 Samantha Allen (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

"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)

"Samantha Allen doesn't just have her finger on the pulse of queer and trans America - the pulse runs through her fingers and onto the screen and page. I am always amazed at her capacity to get the story, convey the facts, and yet leave no doubt as to what really matters behind the buzzwords and slogans: real people with real lives you'll be grateful to have encountered." (Jay Michaelson, author of God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality)

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Shout-out to a queer hero for an excellent job!

The narrative of life as queer people know it is much different than what is reflected in a very small slice of lgbtq+ friendly national outlets and by a who's-who list of prominent people under the broad, inclusive and expansive queer umbrella. Queer life in the heartland is much more fulfilling and diverse than what it is depicted to be. Of course there are major challenges and everyday threats to our very existence and to the safety of our community but that does not mean that a conclusion to arise from that fact should be to pack up shop and leave town for metropoli where queer life can become uninspiring, people can become jaded and the very real connections that makes our relationships prosper at a deeper level can become flimsy threads. This book is an eye-opener for everyone who does not know enough about the queerness of red america. Humanity of people trumps indecency of everyday brinksmanship that we see from depraved politicians and anyone who has both the courage and the time to invest in real relationships with actual people will open up their heart and dispel any seed of prejudice and bias which basically is the result lack of information and connectedness. Terrific stories and inspired narration!

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Critical Commentary On Life Outside the Coasts

One thing I’ve always noticed growing up in the Midwest is how little my experience is reflected in the national media. Samantha Allen does an excellent job exploring the different facets of a full LGBTQ+ experience in America, in what can only be her voice. You have not read or listened to a book like this before and history will thank her for writing it.

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A Beautiful Journey

An excellent queer journey across the American South that really gave me a sense of hope and love. an excellent read for anyone living queer and looking for their place in the world.

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This experience needed to be explored.

As a Floridian, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration of LGBT activism in the south and in "red states" in general. I never identified as a "southerner" because I've always been very liberal. But a great deal of my childhood was spent camping, hiking and canoing in the woods of southern states, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It is great to explore the space between two truths that seem to oppose each other, which this book does very well.

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Not what I expected

Saw the author on MSNBC and based on interview thought this was a book about unlikely pockets of tolerance throughout red states...or something like that. You know- perhaps feel good stories that shatter the stereotype of the hypocritical un-Christlike christian or the gun-toting conservative redneck who turns out to support LGBT rights, maybe?
Instead this book seems to be mainly about the struggles of LGBT citizens due to laws (or the lack of laws) in various states that do not support their rights. An important book, yes...just not the uplifting book I thought I'd be listening to on a long road trip.

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Excellent read

This was such a wonderful book and it discussed some truly important topics which are especially urgent for cis-people to hear/read. The narration was beautiful, and Samantha's voice is so smooth and easy to listen to. I was truly sad when I reached the end of this book, so I anticipate revisiting it.

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Something Different

Not what I was expecting. Thought it would be a light hearted book with a lot of laughs, turned out to be rather serious with a lot of good information. It is pro democrat, anti-Trump. Most important it leaves you with a sense of hope that things will continue to get better.

3 people found this helpful