I live in northern Michigan, about as rural and conservative as you can get, and you’re absolutely right. Conformity is required here for acceptance.
I’ve also lived in cosmopolitan cities like Montreal, New York City, and Berlin. The key difference in those places is, as you point out, that diversity is valued and conformity is not expected.
Well, not nearly so much anyway. Don’t let your neighbors see you jaywalking in Berlin. ;-)
I guess rural communities tend to be insular. At least where I live in Michigan, people rarely have the experience of traveling, or if they do, they’ve only stayed at resorts designed to mimic the communities they’re used to.
Combine that with the fact that very few Black people (or minorities of any sort) live around here, and you end up with a society that is almost inevitably racist.
What to do about that is a very tough question.