Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States. First Back Bay trade paperback edition. New York, NY: Back Bay Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract.
"A transgender reporter's narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states, offering a vision of a stronger, more humane America. Ten years ago, Samantha Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary who cited the Bible to denounce homosexuality. Now she's a senior Daily Beast reporter happily married to another woman. A lot in her life has changed, but what hasn't changed is her deep love of red state America, and of queer people who stay in so-called flyover country rather than moving to the liberal coasts. In Real Queer America, Allen takes us on a cross-country road trip stretching all the way from Provo, Utah, to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt and to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip: 'Something gay every day.' Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to extraordinary LGBT people working for change, including the first openly transgender mayor in Texas, a bisexual activist in Mississippi, the manager of the only queer bar in Bloomington, Indiana, and many more. Along the way, Allen weaves in her own moving story of discovering her identity, venturing out of the closet, meeting her wife, and creating a national network of chosen family. In writing this book, she takes her place among them, reclaiming 'real America' as beautifully, unequivocally, powerfully queer. While Allen faces the dark realities and challenges of queer life in the United States head-on her book is anything but despairing. Real Queer America is a story of hope, joy, friendship, and the exhilarating possibility of change for the better."--Jacket., Review: Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, this is a treasure trove of uplifting stories and a much-needed source of hope and inspiration in these divided times."