Home Is a Contradiction

“Home is also the damp, rotting log smell, the fog lifting to broken sun and wind. I am climbing steadily now, the two-lane shale road narrowing.” (Clare 27).

On this page, Clare connects environmental destruction to the queer experience. As Clare walks into the forest and hears logging trucks, he immediately thinks about his aversion to the timber industry, but then corrects himself with this statement. Although home is “rotting”, and like the trees, Clare felt like he was decaying while growing up in his rural community, he will always have ties there. 

Clare continues this narrative by using a form that mirrors his relationship with his home. When Clare leaves his home the “fog lifts” and he expects to uncover his most authentic queer self, like he expected to see a growing forest. However, living in a city and surrendering to queer metronormativity makes Clare feel like more of an exile, and he feels out of place and “broken” like the environment around him.  

Through the tie between home and decay, Clare implies that maybe home will always be a contradiction. He recognizes that his queer and disabled identities weren’t supported at his home, but he feels perpetually stuck in the chasm between rural and urban, which can feel like the chasm between decaying and flourishing when most queer media set in rural locations references violence or unhappiness. Like witnessing this forest being turned into a wasteland, Clare doesn’t want his life in a rural location “to mean destruction” (Clare 27), but to remain home for him.  

Overall, in this passage Clare reflects on the ostracization he felt his home and how he now emotionally and physically sees his home as “a graveyard, a war zone, the earth looking naked and torn”. However, as Clare states at the end of this excerpt, as he is exploring the forest, he “climbs steadily”, walking on a “shale road”, stepping on rocks at the bottom of the chasm, but continuing forward, with his identities intertwined. For many queer people, home is a contradiction, home is the space between, and home is a multiplicity of identities, and this is what Clare implies as he describes navigating through environmental destruction and the memories of his home. 

3 thoughts on “Home Is a Contradiction”

  1. Your post is beautifully written, and I especially love how you highlight the interconnection between environmental destruction and Clare’s experience as a queer man within his rural community. I think it’s interesting to analyze how Clare associates the rural community which he grew up in with the decay of his queer identity as you mention, yet there’s a sense of nostalgia and love associated with the place where he grew up. In other parts of the novel, I think this is very apparent through the descriptive language that Clare employs when describing the naturalistic landscape of his home. In some ways the imagery that he evokes when using this language seems to accentuate the freedom and vitality associated with nature, which is contrasted with Clare’s feelings of isolation as a queer man within that community. I think the climbing metaphor coincides with Clare being stuck within this chasm, like you brought up, and I think because of his multiple identities, Clare will always be climbing and be stuck in this in-between, because there is no apex of the mountain.

  2. I like you interpretation of Clare’s contradict feeling towards home. When I read this part, I didn’t really connect it with Clare’s queer experience, but now I feel that this really make sense. Especially the words “climbing steadily” really corroborate with what Clare did in the real life. Although stuck in the chasm, he never gives up trying and fighting. Either leaving his home to move to an urban environment or speaking in front of the public with his disabled situation, these are all evidence showing that although it is not an easy trail, he is climbing, steadily.

  3. Clare’s connection of his upbringing and nature is one that really grabbed my attention in the book. I like your analysis of Clare expecting the fog to lift and a growing forest as he moved from rural to urban. It seems like the fog was covering the reality of the situation, only allowing Clare to see what he needed, or wanted to see when thinking about moving to a city. Almost as if the fog was covering the realities of living in the city and the queer community.

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