In August of 2020, a Washington Post article, written by author Emma Eisenberg, convincingly alleged that popular LGBTQ+ Instagram account @queerappalachia had engaged in financial dishonesty, the unapproved use of artists’ works, and an overall lack of transparency regarding their mutual aid efforts. Simply put, Queer Appalachia harmed the very same people that they claimed to represent—Appalachians who are queer, BIPOC (black, Indigenous, [and] people of color), working-class, and/or disabled. For all of these harms and failures, however, the Queer Appalachia Instagram account and ’zine, Electric Dirt, remain unique texts that challenge the metronormative and whitewashed stereotypes of Appalachia. I use theories of queer archives and contemporary understandings of race in Appalachia to explore how the Queer Appalachia Instagram account and Electric Dirt still provide invaluable subversions of the popular caricatures of the region. I additionally interrogate the controversy around Queer Appalachia, looking at how capitalist appropriation of mutual aid, digital blackface, and faulty metaphors of “decolonization” harmed many communities in Appalachia. My aim is not to vindicate Queer Appalachia but to highlight the group's successes and failures, salvage the important work that they have done, and hopefully provide a helpful model for future endeavors in Appalachia and beyond.

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