Coming Out in the Country

Visibility remains perilous for gays and lesbians in rural America

The Rev. Lois Van Leer lives in a secluded region of Oregon. "We have three acres outside the city," she says of the home she shares with her partner Karune Neustadt near the small college town of Corvallis. But people know her -- and know how to find her. Ever since the youth minister of Corvallis' First Congregational Church came out as a lesbian and an advocate for homosexual rights, she has regularly received death threats. "We're very visible, and the police chief said these death threats were some of the ugliest things she's ever heard in her life. When people...

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