Although, they may be spread out over far greater distances than their urban counterparts, many M2M (gay, bi and MSM - 'men who have sex with men, but do not identify as gay or bi') choose to live in rural areas. By and large these M2M are comfortable in living their lives in a rural setting. However, there is an overwhelming belief by many urbanites that being M2M is difficult, if not impossible in a rural setting. Many M2M urbanites have, after all, come from rural roots choosing the city to live an 'out' life. Often they have done so because of various reasons ranging from social isolation to stigma and discrimination, whether real or perceived when they resided in their rural setting.

Rural M2M can and do face different challenges than their urban dwelling brothers, but urban M2M can also face issues such as: social isolation, stigma and even discrimination in the urban setting. Those who choose to live in rural areas often do so because they feel a sense of 'belonging' and 'connection to place' whether through family and/or the land. Some choose 'self-isolation' as a mean's to live their lives as M2M in the rural environment; however this is not the same as 'social isolation'. By choosing 'self-isolation' there can be more protection from 'social isolation' than if they lived closer to their rural neighbours where they would have to be more 'closeted' about their sexuality. Whether this 'protection' is real or perceived, it affords them the opportunity to be themselves as rural M2M.

"A paradox of country living is that pretty much everyone is out,' according to Mary Gray, an associate professor at Indiana University, who spent two years studying LGBT youth in rural Appalachia. "It's just coded differently." [1] While Ms. Gray's study was on rural youth this 'coding' she refers to is applicable to most rural LGBT. Rural M2M while possibly not as visible as urban M2M still manage to have fulfilling lives by networking, meeting in public places, straight bars/pubs, and a continued growing number of rural M2M are meeting up through the internet. Some rural M2M will make trips to the city for hook ups as well.

The internet has greatly allowed rural M2M the opportunity to connect with other M2M. In a report on the effectiveness of an advertisement on Squirt.org where the M2M Information Centre. com site was promoted it clearly showed that a majority of rural and suburban M2M are using the internet for hook-ups with other M2M. In the following charts from that report we can see that a majority of Squirt users came from rural/suburban areas of Ontario. The findings of this report strongly indicate that the internet is being used heavily by rural M2M as a means to hook-up and/or connect with other M2M.


Figure 1. This chart shows that Rural/Suburban men are using the internet to 'hook-up' sexually with other men. The Squirt.org site allows visitors the option to select 'Online & Horny' when using their service.

Figure 2. This chart shows where visitors to the M2M Information Centre came from. 283 came from Rural/Suburban areas of Ontario and less than half (128) came from urban areas. The reminder came from 'out of province' (8) and Out of Country (60).  Both of these charts cover the time period from April 7 to May 25, 2010.

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[1] Rural LGBT youth face challenges using the Internet. Peter Cassels EDGE Magazine August 2010.

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