As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from Garrett Steede, who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Garrett grew up in Mississippi and is an assistant professor of agricultural communication and marketing. Coming out professionally in agriculture can be intimidating. Garrett shares a piece of that story with us. You can connect with Garrett on Twitter (@CaptSteede) and Instagram (@Capt1787).
How are you involved in the agriculture community?
Agriculture has been a part of my life since birth. Both of my grandfathers farmed and my dad was a high school agriculture teacher. I grew up showing registered Limousin cattle, pigs, and goats and my family had a diversified agricultural operation growing everything from peanuts and watermelons to starting the first Community Supported Agriculture program in my home state of Mississippi where we grew all kinds of vegetables.
From a young age, I knew agriculture was going to be an important part of my life and I’m grateful to be able to work in agriculture today.
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
Agriculture is all about innovation. We find new, better ways to grow food, protect water and natural resources, and care for animal welfare. Agriculture is really good at change if you really think about it. I’m really proud of this.
While we aren’t great at communicating this to everyone (this is one of the reasons I’m an agricultural communicator), we are innovative and we are ready and willing to accept change.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
I think a moment that sticks out the most for me where I felt very seen and supported was during the first year of my Ph.D. program at Texas Tech. I had a plan to do a research project where we were going to examine how workplace outness impacts LGBTQ+ people who work in agriculture.
I didn’t know of anyone doing this type of research at the time and I wasn’t prepared for coming out professionally yet. I approached my adviser about doing this project and how it might impact my application process once I started the job hunt to be a professor and she gave me some amazing advice. She said, “Garrett, I can’t promise you that doing this kind of research won’t negatively impact your application, but if it does then that’s not the place you need to work.”
This was one of the first times I felt like I could and had to be my genuine self if I was going to be happy and productive in my career and life. I ended up coming out professionally at the end of that year and it has been one of the most freeing and important steps I’ve made on my professional journey.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
My advice for those who are out is to be OUT! Talk about your relationship the same way your straight co-workers and friends talk about theirs. Don’t hide yourself for the comfort of others.
My advice for those who are not out yet is to go on your journey. Don’t try to stop it. Your journey is going to have ups and downs, wins and losses, success and heartbreak. Go on the journey. You’re not going to change who you are no matter how much your community or faith told you otherwise. When you try to stop the train, you hurt yourself and sometimes those around you. Go on the journey and find the way to be the best you for YOU!
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
Care. You can actually care about LGBTQ+ people by engaging with us. You can care by supporting our ideas and visions for agriculture. You can support us by making sure we can continue to exist in spaces and innovate in agriculture by voting for policies and politicians who care about our existence and aren’t trying to take away our rights.
Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?
Go to a Pride event this month (or this summer). Big or small, close or far away – go celebrate Pride. My first Pride was Atlanta Pride 2012. I was scared and didn’t know anyone, but I went and left changed. Go be with other LGBTQ+ people and celebrate where you are and where you’re going on your journey of loving and living as your authentic self.
The Pride in Agriculture series highlights voices from LGBTQ+ people and allies in agriculture to feature the diversity and leadership within our industry who work to make our community a better place for everyone. To have your LGBTQ+ or Ally story featured, contact Ryan Goodman here.
Consider making a contribution this month to the Cultivating Change Foundation, whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ+ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community.