AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes a blockquote from a book titled Blue in a Red State: The Survival Guide to Life in the Real America, written by Justin Krebs. The blockquote comes from an excerpt of the book published on the Salon magazine website, as I do not have the actual book in question.
As someone who lives in a conservative region of Illinois (specifically, Vermilion County, Illinois, located in the east-central part of the state), I can relate to this:
Lisa in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has two Facebook accounts. One reflects her liberal politics; the other is for acquaintances and family members to whom Lisa shows only her cat photos. Christina, in Milford, Massachusetts, has a sign in the back window of her car proclaiming support for a Democratic candidate. But as soon as she parks in the company lot, she puts it facedown on the backseat. Byron has lived in the same small town of Pomeroy, Iowa—population 662—his entire life. He brings his partner to family dinners but has never actually said to his conservative sister that he’s gay.
Lisa, Christina, and Byron are “blues in red states”—liberals who live in conservative communities that exist in every state, Republican or Democratic-leaning, across America. They and people like them are constantly reminded they aren’t quite like everyone else: from the churches they do or don’t attend, to their purchases and media preferences, to their loyalties at the ballot box. On a daily basis, liberals who have made homes, formed friendships, and participated in the civic life of conservative towns and cities are confronted with unsettling reminders that they’re different, and they’ve found myriad ways to take that truth in stride.
Although Massachusetts, Iowa, and Wisconsin aren’t exactly “red states” (MA is a blue state with a Republican governor, and IA and WI are presidential swing states with Republican governors), all three of the people featured in the above paragraphs live in areas of their states that are more conservative than the state as a whole.
For someone who is very vocal about politics online, I almost never talk about politics when I’m away from my house. In fact, I blend in surprisingly well with other people in my community, as virtually nobody outside of my immediate relatives (mostly Democrats who are not as progressive as I am) know about my political views. In fact, virtually nobody in my community knows that I’m an atheist, and that’s because I never talk about that outside of online to a receptive audience.
In fact, regarding Lisa from Waukesha, Wisconsin, I’m actually an online friend of hers, believe it or not. There’s not too many people I’m comfortable communicating with (either in person or online), but I’m more than comfortable talking with Lisa online. I don’t agree with Lisa 100% of the time (although I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time and I agree with Lisa more often than not), but Lisa is far more understanding of opposing viewpoints than me or most other people.