Jared Hamlin, 35, Gay
What is it like for you to live in a rural community? Some days I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Other days I want to get out of here as fast as I can. It’s hard to be different here, but I can take it. I stay so someone is here that can take it. In my own way I do it to shield the ones that can’t.
What do you love best about the area? I actually love so much about it here. The history, my family, my friends, and the fact that in about 2 hours I can be in one of many larger cities.
What would you like for local residents to know about the LGBTQ community? We are the same as the rest of the community. We work. We live. We love. We really aren’t different from the rest of the world. And for the record I loathe the fact that we have to have a label and can’t exist.
What advice would you give to those in the area who may feel alone? First off, you aren’t alone. We are here to be with you through whatever you are going through. Take a deep breath and hold on. It gets better. It takes time, but it does happen. We have to deal with the negative parts of life so we can appreciate the positive ones when they happen.
Photo/Essay project highlighting the LGBTQ and Ally Community in Obion County (a rural area in TN). Some participants still live in the area, while others have moved away after growing up there.