With LGBT History month now upon us, HASU’s LGBT Officer Jamie offers his thoughts about the LGBT community in our rural communities..
Out In Ag
Struggles with mental health have always been prevalent within the agricultural community due to the isolation and intense workload associated. These mental health issues are heightened when identifying as LGBTQ+ due to the stigma, especially in the farming community where the subject is not being widely talked about.
Keith Ineson realised there were many gay farmers who desperately needed help and support so created the Gay Farmers helpline. Now, he helps thousands of gay farmers in the UK and receives new calls every day crying out for help and support. He has started a movement to improve the mental health of young farmers and challenge the issue of homophobia within the community.
Pride does not have to be parading through the street with a rainbow flag, but rather supporting the right for people to be themselves and love freely without abuse and discrimination. You are able to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community without being a part of it by reflecting on words and actions that may negatively impact the people around you. There are thousands of LGBTQ+ people working and contributing to rural societies unbeknownst to the wider world and that is why it is of the utmost importance to be respectful and considerate of the people around you. Embracing differences brings success and resilience to rural communities and rural enterprise.
We all rely on the countryside for our food and so we should prioritise the well-being of these hard workers and nurture a society where everyone feels welcome. The current challenges (to restore and protect biodiversity, to reduce pollution and to provide healthy food) require us to attract and retain talented and devoted people to work in agriculture, regardless of their private lives outside of work. Diversity leads to better and more imaginative working; different perspectives bring new innovation and knowledge so tolerance and respect within the workplace is never too much to ask for.
A more diverse agricultural and farming industry provides new opportunities for a mutually shared passion, regardless of personal belief. It’s a wonderful, exciting, yet challenging time to be in farming. Let’s ensure that the people behind our countryside feel safe and supported to be their authentic selves and continue their contribution to society without fear of further isolation or hatred by the people who should be supporting them the most.
For more information please visit:
- The Gay Farmer
- Farm Well