J.R. Jamison is the award-winning author of the memoir Hillbilly Queer (2021), host of the NPR radio show and podcast: The Facing Project (produced by Indiana Public Radio), and a founder of the national Facing Project network—a nonprofit organization in 18 states and over 100 communities that creates a more understanding and empathetic world through stories that inspire action. His work has been featured in The Guardian, Harlem World Magazine, The Huffington Post, Pangyrus, Writer’s Digest, and in various print literary journals.
Hillbilly Queer was met with praise upon its release for its deep look at nuance and connecting across political divides. Ashley C. Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter and host of the HBO podcast Lovecraft Country Radio, said that “J.R. Jamison has written one of the most humane and challenging memoirs to come out of the Midwest.” Samantha Allen, GLAAD award-winning journalist and author of Real Queer America, called Hillbilly Queer “One of those rare books that finds beauty in the irreconcilable. In an age when our politics and our nation can feel broken, Hillbilly Queer shows us the messy glue of love that still holds families together.”
The memoir follows J.R. as he spends his days in a world of trigger warnings and safe spaces, while his trigger-happy dad, Dave, spends his questioning why Americans have become so sensitive. Yet at the height of the 2016 election, the two decide to put political differences aside and travel to rural Missouri for Dave’s fifty-five-year class reunion. But with the constant backdrop of the Trump vs. Clinton battle at every turn, they are forced to explore one formidable question: Will the trip push them further apart or bring them closer together?
Traveling through the rural, sun-beaten landscapes of Missouri the two meet people along the way who challenge their concepts of right and wrong, and together they uncover truths about their family’s past that reveals more than political differences, they discover a lesson on the human condition that lands them on the international pages of The Guardian. Hillbilly Queer is an enduring love story between a dad and son who find that sometimes the differences between us aren’t really that different at all.
J.R. seeks to connect people to create understanding across differences, and he regularly speaks at conferences, universities, and speakers’ series around the nation and the world. He lives in Indiana with his husband Cory and their dog, J.J. When not writing and recording, he can be found long-distance running or sipping coffee on his deck lounger with 55-pound J.J. on his lap.