CLARKSVILLE, Texas -- Hunter Evans, 21, is no stranger to local history books. After all he's the youngest democrat elected to a regional party office in northeast Texas with lofty aspirations to change his town. Long before winning, however, Evans had already been making history on more personal merits.
What You Need To Know
- Came out as openly gay in 7th grade
- Many LGBTQ+ youth flee rural towns for diverse, large cities
- Evans wants to help build up his small town home
"I came out as openly gay in the 7th grade. I was one of the first openly gay students at that school district and it was a big accomplishment,” he said.
It might be common to hear of young people, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+, fleeing rural towns to head to more historically diverse and inclusive spaces. Considering Clarksville is roughly two hours northeast of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, it would seem a likely destination for Evans to expand his horizons. For Evans, that was never an option.
“I personally did not consider going to a bigger city because my community needed a strong advocate and I wasn’t done doing the work that I needed to do. Help our communities grow, help us rebuild our hospital that shut down, help us bring in grocery stores so we can have fresh produce across the region,” he said.
Evans is laser-focused on changing the status quo of Clarksville. He says he's on a mission to energize the town's population to be more active in politics in an effort to bring change.
“I think the biggest thing that we need in Red River County would perhaps be one of these empty buildings to become a mental health clinic and for us to have access to proper mental health care,” he said.
Pride Month may have come and gone, but for Evans his pride in his own identity and of his town is year round. For Evans, showing that pride means showing up for every marginalized Clarksville community.
“The LGBTQ+ community is very tight knit and rural next and we all basically know each other, so it’s very common to hear about each other’s struggles and what happens. So it’s very common for us to know when someone becomes homeless or another problem happens,” he said.
It won't be overnight, but Evans is convinced that when every community is taken care of, the entire town benefits.
“Small towns and regions across Northeast Texas need strong advocates and we need a strong community so we can grow and lean on each other,” he said.