Agrespect - pride in the countryside
Everyone is slowly waking up to the fact that the world needs more diversity. Whether it’s the crops we grow or the wild flora and fauna, a variety of species helps to build a healthy and resilient ecosystem. Agriculture however still largely remains a monoculture of white straight men.
The industry is stagnating with the average age of farmers in the UK at 59. We need to attract fresh ideas and we need to retain the bright young minds who maybe don’t feel they have a place in farming.
Around June (recognised as Pride Month around the world) I’m usually asked about my “coming out” story. I’ll be honest, reliving the day I told my parents is not something I relish doing on an annual basis. There’s little point in trying to apply it to today - things have moved on - and it was perhaps the lowest I have ever been.
What I prefer to focus on is how everything got better. It’s unhelpful for me to be smug about being happily married as I know not everyone will/want to get married. I’m also acutely aware of the privileged upbringing I had, the tight family, and the secure tenancy my family held at the farm I grew up on.
What I think all LGBTQ+ people have in common is how after coming out we can be our true, authentic selves - or at least begin working out who our authentic self is. It’s incredible to see how LGBTQ+ rights have moved on in the 20 years since coming out with improving representation in TV and film and visibility in sport and politics, but some areas have been lacking.
Agriculture has a reputation for being a bit slow in terms of progressive social attitudes but often those attitudes persist because there simply isn’t visibility or representation.
This is where Agrespect comes in.
Agrespect was started to challenge homophobia in the industry but also to promote agriculture as a diverse and inclusive place to live and work - to show that you can be openly LGBTQ+ in farming whether as a farm worker, agronomist, surveyor etc or for any of the organisation involved in farming like the NFU, AHDB and of course the Soil Association. We believe that people only reach their true potential when they are able to live their true authentic selves. Hopefully, through the work Agrespect does, we attract new entrants into agriculture as well as making those already living and working in farming feel safe to live openly. We will be at Birmingham Pride this year on the weekend of 25th-26th September so if you’re there, come and say hi.