Liberal LGBTphobia in rural spaces: Israeli lesbian and bisexual women's relationality

Gilly Hartal, Yael Bar Tzedek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lesbian and bisexual women living in rural space portray it as a multifaceted space, reflecting closeness to nature, good educational systems, and community life. But this idealized space, we argue, is also home to a specific form of LGBTphobia, which we conceptualize as Liberal LGBTphobia. While LGBTphobia is understood as originating in hatred or violence, liberal LGBTphobia is characterized by conservatism and ignorance towards LGBT people. However, influenced by a public-private divide, liberal LGBTphobia manifests in a dual discourse. On the one hand, it is anchored in the desirability of rural life for lesbian and bisexual women. This appeal makes it difficult to identify LGBTphobia as such in many instances, given that it manifests in subtle and complex ways. On the other hand, rural space is distinguished from its surrounding space; understood as a better place to live in and with fewer manifestations of LGBTphobia. Therefore, we conceptualize liberal LGBTphobia as consisting of a major mechanism that reproduces the “here” vs. “there” discourse within rural space, and from this identify specific practices that may not seem as LGBTphobia at first glance, such as shunning, prying, tokenism, gossip, and the use of politically correct language and social hints to convey a message of othering. These practices occur in rural space, where people live in comparatively small communities. We argue that liberal LGBTphobic practices are routine in contemporary rural Israeli space and communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103096
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Israeli Science Foundation (grant No. 1312/19 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Geographies of sexualities
  • Homophobia
  • Israel
  • Kibbutz
  • Lesbian and bisexual women
  • Rural space


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