A new study published last month finds rural homosexuals tend to have better health and well being than their big city peers.
That runs contrary to conventional wisdom, according to co-author Chris Wienke, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and explained he expected to find that rural homosexuals find more isolation and less opportunities for social support.
“For years, especially young sexual minorities would move from their hometowns, often rural areas to cities. There’s this pattern of migration that kind of reinforces this perception that urban spaces is gay space and rural space is not for them,” Wienke said.
Wienke attributes the urban-rural differences to many of the same urban conditions that also affect heterosexuals, like traffic, noise, pollution, ethnic conflict, high taxes, and inferior schools.
Wienke said rural lesbians, in particular, report better health and well-being than those who live in big cities. He said this might be the case because the gay scene is largely male-dominated.
“The gay neighborhoods tend to be disproportionately made up of gay men or bisexual men. Whatever benefits there may be, they may be less likely to be received or experienced by women.”
Wienke can’t pinpoint any one unique characteristic that explains why homosexuals have better health and wellbeing in rural areas, but he suggests it might be many of the same attributes that hetereosexuals enjoy, such as the slower pace of life, the perceived peacefulness of the environment and outdoor activities.
The study was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.