Hillbilly Queer is an enduring love story between a dad and son who find that sometimes the differences between us aren’t really that different at all.
J.R. Jamison spends his days in a world of trigger warnings and safe spaces, while his trigger-happy dad, Dave, spends his questioning why Americans have become so sensitive. Yet at the height of the 2016 election, the two decide to put political differences aside and travel to rural Missouri for Dave’s fifty-five year class reunion. But with the constant backdrop of the Trump vs. Clinton battle at every turn, they are forced to explore one formidable question: Will the trip push them further apart or bring them closer together?
Traveling through the rural, sun-beaten landscapes of Missouri the two meet people along the way who challenge their concepts of right and wrong, and together they uncover truths about their family’s past that reveals more than political differences, they discover a lesson on the human condition that lands them on the international pages of The Guardian.13
Family relationships can be tough, especially if you are queer and have an unccepting parent(s). J.R. Jamison shares his viewpoint of his relationship with his father during a trip to his father’s high school reunion.
During this trip, Joe talks about his past, growing up queer in a small town, and the memories shared with him. I think one of the most important distinctions Jamison (aka Joe) makes is the difference in viewpoint from when we are a child and hear something to when we listen to the same story as an adult with some life experience under our belt.
I didn’t grow up ostracized for being queer (there were other issues) or in a small town, but Jamison’s words resonate. I came away from Hillbilly Queer feeling as if this is a love letter to young Joe. Some things will change over time, while other things will never change, but you will be okay.
The walk through history is similar to my own. I still come across Ancestry printouts and lordy all of the untrue stories! Jamison on the other hand has all of these cool dime-back western stories connected to him.
Jamison also shares intimate moments from his past such as his relationship with Steve, his first boyfriend. Man, I wish I had a Steve or Lila in my life. I count Jamison and his father lucky to have had those experiences and friendships. Huge hugs in regards to Steve.
This probably will sound tacky to anyone who reads the book after what I just wrote about Steve…but how Joe met Cory is freaking hilarious. Just saying. Then Jamison shares Sally’s story and I cried. Huge hugs to Joe and Cory.
Jamison takes us through a continuous flux of emotion as he remembers the past, is sharing the present, and lives with concern for a possible Trump future. The see-saw of emotions can be tough, but isn’t that how we live life? Jamison shows us his viewpoint of living life as a Hillbylly Queer and it as once familiar and new. A trip worth taking even if Jamison’s dad is behind the wheel.
I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
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Publisher: The Facing Project Press, 9781734558166, 11 May 2021
Cover Design: Emma Fulkerson & Shantanu Suman; Cover photography: Brode Williamson
Settings: Missouri, U.S.