Activists, researchers and community leaders will gather Wednesday in Lexington for a U.S. Department of Agriculture-organized conference that will focus on the needs of LGBT people living in rural areas.

Ashlee Davis, director of the National LGBT Rural Summit Series, said the challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living in rural areas are often overlooked.

“There’s this misconception that LGBT people in general are living in urban spaces,” she said. “That there aren’t many of us that live in rural spaces — which we know is not the truth — and that we’re all making $75,000, and that we’re all living this life like ‘Will & Grace’ or ‘Modern Family.'”

The Kentucky LGBT Rural Summit will explore the unique ways rural LGBT resident face issues such as housing and access to food, she said.

The USDA was the second federal agency — after the Department of Housing and Urban Development — to enact nondiscrimination policies for LGBT Americans in the services they provide.

USDA representatives will be at the summit with information about those services, which include rural housing loans and community facility grants.

Kentucky is the ninth stop in the summit series, produced by the USDA in collaboration with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and The True Colors Fund. Their next stop is Jackson, Miss., later this week.

“We know that the face, the stories, of rural America is absolutely intertwined with the LGBT story,” she said. “[T]o be LGBT and live in rural America means you are tough, it means that you contribute, and it means that you have a great deal of concern for the community that you live in.”

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Kentucky’s first openly gay mayor, will deliver the opening remarks. Gray was raised in Glasgow.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects.