One of the interesting things that emerged from my data analysis was that while nobody used the words stigma or discrimination, there was an implicit assumption for some that if their sexual relationships were known that it would be a problem. I presented on this at a SEXRurality conference on 22 July 2015.
Link to the presentation, which uses Lego pictures denoting relationship types: LKirkman Wednesday22July_SEXRurality
There is a belief that in a rural area that everyone knows, or at least takes an interest in, everyone’s business. This makes secrecy about relationships difficult to maintain. With that knowledge comes social manipulation to conform. Participant Bella’s* decision to remain on the farm after her husband’s death was, like her relationships, unconventional, and subject to community scrutiny.
No one, everyone stood back and watched when my husband died, and thought, oh, she’ll just come into town [low voice] and, you know, but…