I was introduced to the concept of ‘metronormativity’ (Jack Halberstam) earlier today and I’m rather taken with it. This is the Wikipedia article which summarises it:
Jack Halberstam relates queer metronormativity to the dominant “story of migration from ‘country’ to ‘town’… a spatial narrative within which the subject moves to a place of tolerance after enduring life in a place of suspicion, persecution, and secrecy.” This narrative purports that the only means of achieving community among LGBT persons, happiness, and open existence is via an urban lifestyle, perhaps devaluing rural existence by way of stereotypes concerning urban and rural ways of life.
Rural people are commonly depicted in media and otherwise as un-intelligent, dirty, and intolerant; these stereotypes and myths persist largely through well-publicized rural hate crimes (e.g. Brandon Teena‘s assault and murder) that seemingly support stereotypes of rural people as violent bigots and of rural LGBT people as mere victims. The propagation and persistence of these myths lend themselves to the assumption that rural LGBT people do not and cannot exist; those who live happily in rural areas are thus denied existence under the dominant view of metronormativity. This invisibility is evident inhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_anti-urbanism
I recognise some of this in my friends who grew up in London and/or stayed there after university, unlike myself who left when I finished my undergraduate degree and never went back other than for (often regular) visit. It would be interesting to think about capital cities in these terms as a form of transposable peak metronormativity, sometimes embodied at the level of habitus as much as explicit commitment. I’m suddenly reminded me of a friend of mine (who is well-travelled but has never lived outside of London) loudly remarking “I’d forgotten what Saturday night is like in the provinces” when we walked into my local Weatherspoons in Coventry. To be fair to him he winced as much as I did and his point was mostly about the way in which people were dressed up for a night out in a seemingly local pub. But it also revealed something a little unpleasant about how he viewed the relationship between London and Coventry.