As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from Jon Raymond Dykstra (he/him), who lives in Kingston, Prince Edward Island, Canada and shares insight on LGBTQ visibility.
I first came across Jon Raymond’s story when he shared his perspective on Instagram: “If I were to go back and give some advice to my younger self, instead of living in fear and looking for every reason to hide and stay in the closet, it would be to look for every reason to come out. Living in fear of being found out left me so guarded and on edge. I was so unhappy and didn’t even realize it. If I had looked around for the positive, I would have seen there was a place for me and wouldn’t have waited so long to come out.”
Jon Raymond works in the livestock nutrition industry, milks cows on the weekends, and raises and breeds dairy show heifers. You can connect with Jon on Instagram (@Jon.Dykstra).
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
It’s a great feeling to know you help feed the world, and to work alongside passionate, like-minded people is great!
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
I remember attending my first Royal Agricultural Winter Fair after coming out and meeting so many other members of the LGBTQ+ community involved in agriculture. Where I was from, I didn’t see anyone like me involved in Ag, so to meet other supportive people like me was finally an eye-opener and very encouraging.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
One thing I find important is to not hide from others and to be proud of who you are. I never fully understood “Pride” before coming out but it’s not only for you. It’s for others who will see you and realize they can be their happy genuine selves.
It makes others realize they aren’t alone in their journey and, by participating in such things, gives you that platform and LGBTQ visibility to others and maybe has an impact that person needs.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that “Pride” is more than just during June or during “Pride Week”; it’s 365 days a year.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
If you want to be a better ally, help provide visibility for those who may not look like you. That can mean sharing social media posts and showing support for events in your community. If you help organize events, ensure they are welcoming spaces and have a diverse representation among speakers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share on LBGTQ visibility?
My biggest regret about coming out was that I didn’t do it sooner. I know not everyone is in the same situation or they are on different paths of their life’s journey but nothing beats living life as your true 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.