As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from an anonymous LGBTQ voice from the agriculture community. Over the years, I’ve had a number of people come to me in confidence to share their stories and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
Anonymous LGBTQ stories are incredibly important to share. That’s where I was first able to share my story. Not everyone feels comfortable or in a position to share more about their LGBTQ+ story in our agriculture and rural communities. This is often due to the derogatory comments and conversations we hear from others or in fear of negative social or professional implications of coming out.
One of the big reasons I chose to share this series of stories is to highlight that fact and to encourage conversations so that one day, we may not have the need to hide part of who we are or be discouraged by the potential repercussions of being our authentic selves in front of colleagues and peers.
How are you involved in the agriculture community?
My granddad was a farmer, a pioneer seed salesman, and an extension agent. I grew up on a cow-calf operation. My dad worked in crop protection and my mom also worked in extension. It was just a natural fit for me with my 4-H and FFA years. I did get a degree in production agriculture.
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
I grew up in rural America and the values they have are important to me and also challenging at times. Knowing I can have a direct impact on US and international agriculture production is rewarding.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
In the 20+ years in the agriculture industry and identifying as gay, I have seen significant progress with the agriculture companies, but less with farmer/rancher organizations.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
The tides are slowly turning. I know I found my place in Washington, DC and I feel many state capitols are the same. It has been fairly easy to live and work in agriculture and live in Washington, DC.
I worry about LGBTQ+ members of agriculture who want to remain on the farm or be an ag teacher or extension agent and their ability to truly feel included in our industry and rural communities. I do think things are getting better and we have great support organizations like Cultivating Change to help support these members of the LGBTQ+ community.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
The more that major agriculture input companies, manufacturers, ag retailers, 4-H and FFA, and others speak out about supporting their LGBTQ+ employees or members and demonstrating that everyone is accepted, it will begin to affect the rural communities where so many of our collogues want to stay in production agriculture.
I would like to see more agriculture-based companies celebrating Pride Month to show how LGBTQ+ people can be included in our industry.
Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?
I came out 22 years ago and have worked in agriculture policy my entire career. I have only encountered one or two people during my career that directly said anything negative to me and they were quickly shot down by others.
The more of us that come out as former 4-Hers, FFA, and leaders in agriculture it will help the more rural parts of our industry to become more mainstream in their acceptance. I know that is much easier said than done, but everyone one of us makes a difference.
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.