The Joys of Teenage Love at the County Fair, Cont’d

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
Our video team is featuring this short documentary on teens courting teens:

The video elicited a lot of conversation in the comments section. For one reader, the teen couples evoked memories of a simpler time:

This is actually really sweet. Brings me back to high school!

Another reader isn’t so pleased that only heterosexual couples are featured: “Thanks for the relentlessly heteronormative representation of young love.” This reader fires back:

That’s not a common thing, you should know. It’s rare to see young teens showing affection publicly, especially gay teens.

And especially in the South. The documentary takes place at a fair in Dudley, North Carolina, an unincorporated community about ten miles from Goldsboro. A 2015 Gallup poll placed nearby Raleigh in the list of U.S. metro areas with the lowest percentages of residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Bruce C. Steele, the former editor in chief of The Advocate, wrote about his experience as an openly gay man in North Carolina (granted, he lives outside Asheville—a few hours from Dudley):

It’s my impression that average folks in North Carolina are very much live and let live. It may never have occurred to most of them to support antidiscrimination laws or marriage equality, but if that’s the law of the land, they’re fine with it.

This is not to say that living in North Carolina is like living in Los Angeles, where we moved from eight years ago. You have to work harder here to find and bond with openly gay and lesbian people, and the options for LGBT events and entertainments are few. Christopher and I did not attend church in Los Angeles, nor before then in New York, during the more than a decade we lived in each city. But when we moved here, we immediately sought out the UCC, and we have made many treasured friendships there, with people both gay and straight.

If you have any notable memories about growing up in the South as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender teen, let us know.