Auto/ethnography is not an apolitical endeavor, and as a queer researcher, I never lose sight of the sensibilities that influence my work. Leading with an explicit queer positionality and relying upon critical reflexivity, this essay focuses on my two-year fieldwork in rural, conservative Old Shawneetown, Illinois. I begin by navigating the natural landscape, illustrating how Shawneetown’s flood-ravaged landscape implicates (my) queer identity—as both a lens for reading queer sexuality and as a metaphor for queer loss. Then, I shift to the human landscape—my interactions with the town’s residents—where I feel the necessity to stifle my queer persona in favor of a performance that passes as heterosexual. Both landscape contexts position geography as a catalyst for the autobiographical, complicating issues of ethnographic dialogue, ethics, and risk—a queerscape—as divergent selves and subjectivities challenge one another in a charged, site-specific space of heteronormativity.
- © 2016 International Institute for Qualitative Research, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign