There is just something about the rough and rugged country boy. Someone who’s worked hard and is dirty and sweaty with the musculature only hard manual labor can provide and the gym can’t. These men are the men of fantasies and can make a man like me weak in the knees. Some might be classified as a cowboy, others as a farmer, and some might even be called a good ol’ boy or redneck, but those are loaded terms.
The term redneck has expanded in meaning beyond the poor Southerner to refer to “a bigoted and conventional person, a loutish ultra-conservative.” It is often used to attack white Southern conservative. And while as a general rule this may be true, I’ve known many a Southern man who had a rough and rugged exterior, but a heart of gold. Not all of them are quite so conservative either. As the world changes, so do the rednecks. The younger generation is more accepting of gays men and especially gay women (not for the lesbian fantasy but because they are often very hard workers and can out man a lot of men). Religion sometimes gets in the way of this progress, but I think we will see that change as well. Religion used to be one of the factors behind racism, but that is disappearing as well, and is in fact, almost non existent. I think the same will happen with homophobia.
The term redneck and good ol’ boy is also used broadly to degrade working class and rural whites that are perceived by urban progressives to be insufficiently liberal. Living in a rural area myself, I can attest to some of the small changes. It’s slow progress, but the South has always been slow with progress. Even the Progressive Movement in America itself came to the South twenty to thirty years after the rest of the country. And though they are still catching up, they will. Progress comes slow, but I have the hope and faith that it will continue to come to the South.
At the same time, some white Southerners have reclaimed these words, using it with pride and defiance as a self-identifier. If you come to the South from a more liberal area, you won’t see it. You have to see the more subtle changes, but it will happen, if you get to know the people and don’t judge them. If you want to see the real change, look at the profiles on Manhunt, Grindr, or any other gay hook-up site in the South and you will see more of redneck gay culture than you’d expect. These gay men are men you’d never suspect to be gay, but they love the country life. They love their rural surroundings, and they love a sexy man in a pair of Wrangler jeans.
Don’t dismiss the South or other rural areas. They will come around. It may just take a while. Those sweaty, dirty, calloused handed, country boys are the stuff of legend. Save a horse, ride a cowboy.