Y'all Means All: The Emerging Voices Queering Appalachia
Y'all Means All: The Emerging Voices Queering Appalachia
Y'all Means All is a celebration of the weird and wonderful aspects of a troubled region in all of their manifest glory! This collection is a thought-provoking hoot and a holler of “we’re queer and we’re here to stay, cause we’re every bit a piece of the landscape as the rocks and the trees” echoing through the hills of Appalachia and into the boardrooms of every media outlet and opportunistic author seeking to define Appalachia from the outside for their own political agendas. Multidisciplinary and multi-genre, Y’all necessarily incorporates elements of critical theory, such as critical race theory and queer theory, while dealing with a multitude of methodologies, from quantitative analysis, to oral history and autoethnography.
This collection eschews the contemporary trend of “reactive” or “responsive” writing in the genre of Appalachian studies, and alternatively, provides examples of how modern Appalachians are defining themselves on their own terms. As such, it also serves as a toolkit for other Appalachian readers to follow suit, and similarly challenge the labels, stereotypes and definitions often thrust upon them. While providing blunt commentary on the region's past and present, the book’s soul is sustained by the resilience, ingenuity, and spirit exhibited by the authors; values which have historically characterized the Appalachian region and are continuing to define its culture to the present.
This book demonstrates above all else that Appalachia and its people are filled with a vitality and passion for their region which will slowly but surely effect long-lasting and positive changes in the region. If historically Appalachia has been treated as a “mirror” of the country, this book breaks that trend by allowing modern Appalachians to examine their own reflections and to share their insights in an honest, unfiltered manner with the world.
“I am tired of vacuous elegies and reductive, Red State prognoses that assume there is something rancid or hopeless about places that are hard to find on a map. Such accounts leave little to no room for queering lives and possibilities. That is why I am so thankful that trans activist and scholar Z. Zane McNeill brought together fifteen scholars, artists, and activists to share their nuanced, vibrant take on all things Appalachian and queer. Readers will appreciate the honest, raw call-outs of racism, gendered violence, and environmental injustices that simultaneously reclaim indigeneity, Blackness, non-binary genders, and queerness as local in origin and equipped to build new queer archives that push and gather us together. This collection is a must-read for activists and scholars seeking a fuller sense of queerness as a political enterprise always becoming and undone, shaped by an insistence that y’all matters—I can hardly think of a more pressing project for our times.”
—Mary L. Gray, 2020 MacArthur Fellow, author and editor of dozens of articles and several books, including In Your Face: Stories from the Lives of Queer Youth and Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America
“These deeply personal and theoretically informed essays explore the fight for social justice and inclusivity in Appalachia through the intersections of environmental action, LGBTQA+ representational politics, anti-racism, and movements for disability justice. This Appalachia is inhabited by a queer temporality and geography, where gardening lore teaches us that seeds dance into plants in their own time, not according to a straight-edged neoliberal discipline.”
—Rebecca Scott, author of Removing Mountains: Extracting Nature and Identity in the Appalachian Coalfields
“This collection adds important voices to the chorus rising from the region, singing their own songs and telling their own stories. Playing with genre, form, subject, and positionality, the text offers a beautifully messy vision of a beautifully messy place. The resistance to category serves us all, pushing boundaries and reminding us of the superficialities of most boundaries that shape us. The inclusion of voices unused to existing in the same volumes—of gerontologists and artists and farmers and activists and folklorists and more—creates an overwhelming sense of complexity. That complexity is precisely what we need in mind when we try to write about Appalachia, or when we try to write about queerness. This collection is disruptive and unsettling—in the very best ways. Just when we think we understand queerness in Appalachia, it is troubled and turned inside out again, leaving us uncertain and inspired to keep asking questions.”
—Meredith McCarroll, author of Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film and co-editor of Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy
“This exuberant collection tears away falsehoods, challenges hierarchies, and presents memoir and scholarship on new ways of understanding the Queer past and present of Appalachia. Resisting conformity, hatred, and oppression in Appalachia is to resist these nationwide. These writers demonstrate not only that Appalachia is central to LGBT activism, but also that queerness in Appalachia is central to the wider movements for dignity, equity, and social justice in the United States.”
—Steven Stoll, author of Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia
“Too often writers and artists from Appalachia find themselves on the defensive, responding to the many ways that popular media misrepresents the region and erases complexities of gender, race, and sexuality. Not so in Y’all Means All. As members of radical queer communities, the authors imagine the past, present, and future in Appalachia with sharp analysis and glorious storytelling. They define Appalachia on their own terms, with theoretical ferment, honesty, and heart.”
—Jessica Wilkerson, Associate Professor and Stuart & Joyce Robbins Distinguished Chair in History, West Virginia University
“Weaving together stories of intersectional queer life with questions of place, politics, and belonging, Y'all Means All offers readers a nuanced and necessary portrait of Appalachia. These essays are as raw and vulnerable as they are smart and context-driven, each one offering richer understanding of the region through powerful personal testimony. A much-needed remedy to the reactionary views of Appalachia we get from mainstream presses and corporate news, this book is balm.”
—Raechel Anne Jolie, author of Rust Belt Femme
“Appalachia is often painted with a broad stroke of a dominant narrative. Y’all Means All: The Emerging Voices Queering Appalachia has re-worked this narrative to show these hollers ain’t all the same. This collection is here to amplify the queer voices and stories bouncing off of the mountains to bring them onto the page. Overlooked and overshadowed by the dominant narrative, this collection works to reconnect queerness with the region through signposts of identities, marginalization, and trauma. It’s complicated, for sure, but this collection shows how stereotypes of the region are not only about image but can do real damage. Because families, identities, roots, language, history, and policy are so marred in the past and running deep in the roots of the region, these essays feature a more rhizomatic approach to these cultural concepts. In Crafting Queer Histories of Technology, Hannah Conways says, ‘There are always many ways to tell a story, to tell a history.’ This collection works to do just that.”
—Tijah Bumgarner, filmmaker
“The works in Y’all Means All: The Emerging Voices Queering Appalachia are thoughtful, well-researched, emotionally resonant, and beautifully made, all of which balances their sometimes harrowing imagery, and the hard truths they must share about queer experiences in a region that has not always treated the LGBTQ+ community with the care it deserves. Z. Zane McNeill has done a service for the public good in bringing together the eclectic perspectives of artists and makers from across a broad field of scholars, creative writers, photographers, naturalists, and more. I was continually moved by the love I felt expressed for Appalachia in this collection, a love soldered and made stronger by pain and resilience, by healing and kindness. I really cannot imagine an open-hearted reader not returning that feeling of love toward this book, built as it is on hope, generosity, and the recognition that every voice belongs in the chorus.”
—Jesse Graves, Professor of English and Poet in Residence, East Tennessee State University
“This collection provides another space for queer Appalachian storytelling and analysis. The chapters address Appalachian queer and racial activism, archival histories, and other queer histories including crip/queer theories and histories. Many of these chapters use personal narratives to drive home their points. Several use academic theories to demonstrate the complexities of Appalachian queerness and how this scholarship fits within the academy. This collection is powerful and full of good intentions. We need loud voices such as these to empower those who may be afraid or unable to speak out. Tennessee Jones quotes Jayne Anne Phillips who says ‘This Ain’t the South ... It’s the goddamn past’; however, this collection shows that Appalachia has an incredibly bright and powerful queer future.”
—Travis Rountree, assistant professor in the English department at Western Carolina University
“An Appalachian kaleidoscope of queer voices, Y’all Means All is a varietal collection of authors who explore and complicate how identities can be multifaceted in the mountains. Ranging from Appalachia grassroots organizations who advocate on the behalf of the mountains, to artists working against queer stereotypes in the region, to religious intersectionality, and more, these voices yell out: ‘Appalachia is queer too!’ This collection of essays is timely and necessary considering the current political, and even economic climate in Appalachia. It may be the case that these writers, artists, and activist are speaking truth to power in many instances, it is refreshing nevertheless to see so many queer Appalachians forging a diverse future of Appalachia that demands inclusion.”
—Caleb Pendygraft, PhD., Assistant Professor of Humanities, Massachusetts Maritime Academy
“Z. Zane McNeill, with this collection, creates space for queer Appalachians to reclaim from the dominant culture their pride in not only their queer identities, but also their identities as Appalachians. Y’all Means All isn’t just another project that allows the voiceless to be voiced; instead this collection pushes back against hegemonic portrayals of the region, questioning and dismantling white supremacy, capitalism, misogyny, environmental degradation, and the ways that these systems intersect and support one another to disempower, in some form or another, all Appalachians. This book is paramount for understanding the region and its legacy of resilience and resistance through the lived experiences of its contributors. Definitely a must-read for anyone working at the intersections of Appalachian Studies and queer theory!”
—Jessica Cory, editor of Mountains Piled Upon Mountains
About the Editor
Z. Zane McNeill is an independent scholar-activist from West Virginia. He currently sits on the steering committee for the Appalachian Studies Association and has written on choreopolitics, socially engaged art, critical animal studies, and queer ecologies. They are co-editor of Queer and Trans Voices: Achieving Liberation Through Consistent Anti-Oppression.
See and hear author interviews, book reviews, and other news on Z. Zane McNeill’s page HERE