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.