Compared to some, I don't live in a rural area at all. It's quite suburban in many ways. But that suburbia hasn't been around quite as long as some other places. And much of the mindset is still very rural.
Take for instance a conversation I had with my riding instructor today. She was telling me about one of the kids' big horse show and that the judge confused horse A and horse B and pinned them backward. and the judge refused to admit his mistake and everyone around them was astounded at the judge's ruling, etc, etc. So far that's all fine. It sounds like the girl really got screwed out of a ribbon she deserved (she earned Champion in her two other classes on the same horse, just to prove the point).
Then my instructor says that the judge was gay. I just kind of blinked at her for a bit, so she went on, explaining how she had noticed it when she saw him judging, but after they talked to him (to confront him about the placement), the other person agreed with her. She was obviously trying to tie being gay to the judge giving a shitty ruling.
I said (heart pounding), that him being gay really didn't have anything to do with it.
She went on, trying to explain that it was his attitude.
And I said that being gay didn't give him attitude. He just had a shitty attitude. At which point she dropped the conversation and focused on how unfair it was that the kid got screwed out of a ribbon. Then she went to go do something else, and I groomed my horse and replayed the conversation in my head a thousand times.
I was born and raised in this area, so the mentality doesn't really surprise me, although this is the first time I've run into this type of language from her (although she's made passing comments that were questionable before). She's an older woman (63) and was raised in this area. So she embodies that rural area. It's something you see in a lot of fiction: rural towns don't like them gays, but they aren't outright mean to them. Mostly just give them side-eye. And that's how she is. But being queer and hearing that said was still a shock to the system.
I take heart in knowing that with time and patience, change is happening.