Publication Details

Scott, J., Lyons, A. & MacPhail, C. (2015). Desire, belonging and absence in rural places. Rural Society: the journal of research into rural and regional social issues in Australia, 24 (3), 219-226.


One of the more popular and enduring characters introduced by the British sketch comedy Little Britain (2003-2006) was Daffyd Thomas, a 25-year-old gay man living in the fictional village of Llandewi Breffi, Wales. The comedy played to Daffyd's claim to be 'the only gay in the village' (shown to be blatantly untrue), his apparent homophobia and his attention-seeking behaviour, as evident in his over-the-top dress sense. Yet, what made the comedy 'work' was the setting, a traditional pub in rural Wales. As with much comedy, Daffyd presented as 'matter out of place', to borrow a phrase from Mary Douglas (1992); he did not belong in the imagined space in which he resided. Worse, he was an extrovert, showing a total disregard for the conventions of the village social order, but his efforts to court sanction went largely unnoticed. It is not without irony that, in 2010, while conducting an interview with a mayor of a rural Australian town, one of the guest editors was flatly informed that there were no 'homosexuals' in the community, a claim the researcher had heard in other towns. Later, upon reflection, the interviewee qualified his statements, saying "[you] don't really see gays here ... in the farming community". In an instant, a relationship between a fictional village in Wales and an agricultural town in Australia subject to homophobic violence, became apparent. Both spaces conveyed aspects of the belonging and absence which animates sexuality in the rural/urban continuum.



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