As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from Patrick Connolly (he/him), who lives in Echo Bay, Ontario, Canada. Patrick has purchased his family farm and manages the local agriculture center. He shares his perspective on being a person identifying as LGBTQ in agriculture communities. You can connect with Patrick on Instagram (@norland258).
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
I’m proud to be doing my part to look after this little piece of earth to leave it in better shape for the next generation. For the agricultural center, I love helping new farmers.
During the past few years, we’ve had many people come back to the area who have very little experience in agriculture, but a lot of enthusiasm and want to learn.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
Back in college, I was out but very low-key about it and wasn’t sure I fit into the ag community. It was during our senior field trip touring farms in Quebec, that we spent a night in Montreal.
My friends insisted on taking me to the village that night because I always went out to straight bars with them and never complained. This was my turn and it surprised me, but we had fun, and this moment gave me the belief that I had a place in this community.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
This is such a tough question because everyone’s journey is different and even agriculture communities are different from region to region. I guess the best advice is to avoid the half-truths.
For me, it was always the small talk question “Have a wife and kids?” The standard answer for years was, “Yep, two little girls they are…” and just not acknowledge the wife part of the question. It took a long time to just say, “My boyfriend and I have two girls.” It’s a little thing but an important thing.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
I think it is about visibility. LGBTQ+ people know we need to be visible in our community as role models for LGBTQ+ youth, but I think the reverse is important, too.
Agriculture allies need to be visible in the gay community as well. You can sponsor a small town GSA, be active during pride month, and highlight your connection to the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone has one.
And language matters. The difference between “Do you have a family at home?” And “Do you have a wife and kids?” seems insignificant, but to the person being asked, it’s the difference between having a conversation and having to come out again to another person.
Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?
That we have a lot to be proud of! When I graduated high school, I was convinced that because I was gay I had to move to a city because that’s where gay men belonged. We have come a long way in a short period of time where we are actually having this conversation to make sure kids and people don’t feel that way.
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.