This week’s Humans of Agriculture posts are sponsored by Cargill. I thank them for their support of my blog and their work towards diversity in the workplace. To read more about Cargill’s commitment to diversity check out their website HERE.
“I’m not sure coming out was ever a choice. Rather, a matter of when, and when was I mature enough to accept who I knew I always was. I came out because lying and pretending was never something that I could be. I was raised against that, and even though in my upbringing I’m sure this truth was never considered, it followed pattern with what I think is so important to anyone growing up.
As I look back, I realize that I have always struggled – and still do – to be accepted for who I am, based on my own soul searching and acceptance of that definition. I look back and now see that I spent years of my younger life feeling like I never fit in with other people based on the “local world’s” seeming definition of what was right or wrong. I knew I was different, and I didn’t want to be. But, I also never liked being “like” anyone else. It is very hard to explain, and was equally as hard for me to understand as I grew through it.
Somewhere along the line, I shifted from worrying about “not being like everyone else” to an inner drive “not to be like everyone else”. For those that know me personally or professionally, they probably understand that I always want to be “different”. I started a business based on a different niche, I raise dairy cattle that are more rare than most, same with beef cattle and chickens. I’m not sure that was something I was born with, but rather my way of adapting to feelings and experiences of being born gay and wondering how/if I could fit in.
Now, I like to blaze my own trail – even though, some days, it is extremely challenging.
I love agriculture, and I can’t even tell you why. I think it is, honestly, something in my DNA. Many may not realize, but my immediate family was not/is not involved in agriculture; I think I brought it back to the family from conception. My extended family were farmers, and I could not spend enough time with animals, and the farm, as long as I can remember. So, what drives me forward? – I honestly don’t know. What drives anyone forward in this industry? I don’t know how to describe it, but we all know – it just does. I love animals, and I love animal agriculture. It is my “zone”.
Absolutely; no doubt, there is more acceptance of LGBTQ people in agriculture today. Agriculture may lag behind other social and societal issues, but it is close behind on this. I have had very few experiences in my professional or farmer-specific life segments where I have felt unaccepted. Sure, there are some that are less comfortable with the reality than others, but I very – very seldom feel that is an issue vs. just a discomfort. I’m proud that the industry just thinks about other details that matter so much more.
It’s simple – don’t judge people based on a small fraction of “their life” that you have no business even thinking about. Love is love, commitment is commitment, and leadership is leadership. Simple as pudding pie.
We have a lot of legitimate things to worry about in life. What someone’s genetic-driven sexual preference is a waste of time for everyone except the two people involved…and it is not, most likely, you.
For those who are scared to come out, please – don’t lock onto the perception that the agriculture industry is too conservative or too restrictive to accept the truth. It is not the case. Yes, some struggle more than others. But those that struggle most also most miss the benefit of the truth – that many of the people that help them, and/or they respect the most, might have been born with a different sexual orientation than “the norm”.
The fear of “coming out” is far greater than the actual risk. Everyone makes choices based on the facts they are presented. Our friends and allies are no different. Doesn’t it make sense that if they know the facts – ex: “I’m gay” – they can make a more informed choice of if they can accept that? And, really, if they can’t – are they really that close of a friend or ally? I chose to say – this is who I am; I want you to appreciate me, but if you can’t because of something that really doesn’t affect you, then I have something to consider about my relationship with you that is far greater than what you think of me.
It is nearly 2020. Homosexuality is not new…it is thousands of years old, in reality. Why do we need to let it be even an issue anymore? And, specific to agriculture, it has no relevance. Agriculture needs and embraces all those who’s hearts and soul is in the achievement of sustainability. Don’t live based off fear; live based off promise. Coming out is not a question. It is a reality, and we all need each other. “
In addition to his farm animal ventures Ed is the founder, President and CEO of Filament, an agriculture marketing agency. Read more about Ed HERE.