As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from Grant Ermis, who lives in Temple, Texas where he works as a career and technical education coordinator. Grant shares his experiences, as well as advice on improving LGBTQ inclusion in agriculture. You can connect with Grant on Facebook and Instagram.
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
I’m proud of the resolve agricultural organizations and companies show to express their interest in elevating the value of LGBTQ+ agriculturists and allies in the workplace.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
I have had the privilege to work with a few major agriculture companies on developing projects that develop the value of cultural differences from entry-level work through executive suites.
There is a lot of interest out there in evolving equitable practices in the workplace, so much so that we need more agriculturists to step into roles of action to advance our work.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
Consider how you consistently challenge others to be empathetic when encountering LGBTQ+ needs. We all have needs, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, creed, religion, and a host of other demographic characteristics.
We also have biases to which we were predisposed in the cultures we were raised. Those are inherently rooted in the fabric of who we are at the present moment, which also applies to opposing views.
While changing behavior (the action of predisposition) related to culture is messy, time-adverse, and unrelenting, consistent challenges to behaviors, actions, and words – without controversy – is the most sensible way to reshape current culture and context to be more equitable.
Examine your decorum with those who are different, just as we are by nature, and take consistent action to educate them and reshape acceptable human behavior.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
For those who may not yet be allies: It’s the simple human actions that count. Move one foot outside of your comfort zone, with the other firmly planted, and take a small action to support someone in your immediate, secondary, or tertiary circle of influence who may identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
The path to being a strong ally starts there. Achieving strong allyship is a journey, not an end result. If you consider yourself a strong ally, or you have already started down that path, challenge yourself to ask how to ensure non-complacency.
The LGBTQ+ is in a state of geopolitical and cultural flux. Have you engaged in anything new to show your support? Also, consider that strong allies are not just visible during June, or at Pride events. They are present when big decisions are being made, where policy is impactful, and in small talk at the beginning of the workday.
Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?
Be proud, and work strategically to set a year-round course of action in motion. Life is an every day kind of thing, and members of the LGBTQ+ community do not stop needing human interaction and impact on June 30th.
Celebrate the month of June, with all of the history that propelled us to this moment, and use it to build networks and coalitions that serve as the basis for history at some indeterminant point in the future.
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.