Since the age of 18 I have tried my very best to be part of the industry in some way or another. It took a long time, but by the time I was 27 I had finally created enough contacts and a concrete base to start from. What area of farming I would take? The conclusion, Dairy.
I’m now 3 years in and, at the age of 30, I have gained lots of experience carrying out relief milking shifts on various dairy farms. It wasn’t plain sailing or easy though.
In the early days of the job, when I was lacking confidence and skills, the biggest weight on my shoulders was knowing what I would say when asked, “What does the missus think of you farming?” or “Do you live with your girlfriend?”
I have always been ‘out’ to my friends and family so I was comfortable in myself and who I am. But I didn’t have the confidence to share this with the farming industry.
One of the first places I milked on was a 72-point rotary parlour, in which I was asked one of these very questions. I remember stumbling over my words and trying to cover it up. I remember just thinking that it wouldn’t be accepted in the industry. But while I was stumbling over words, it just came out.
“I’m gay” and I continued to put on units.
To cut a long story short, I was straight away ‘accepted’ with the words, “Oh nice one. A gay farmer on the team”. I did wonder what the others would think after the news spread, but all I received was positivity, kind words and, to be honest, a lot of support.
This has also continued on many other farms which I have relief milked for, and it has become easier to tell people. Everyone who I have worked for has been extremely accepting of my sexuality and made me a hell of a lot more confident in who I am. There has not been a single negative comment, joke or slur.
That big step 3 years ago and being honest and not covering it has made my journey into dairy a lot easier. I have made some incredible work colleagues and friends from the farms, and have learnt a lot in the time I have been doing this.
While writing this I am doing some work on a dairy farm near me in Gloucestershire which is run by a gay farmer which clearly shows how open the industry is to everyone.
Following the Agrespect feeds over the past 12 months, created an extra boost in my confidence and encouraged me to take part in my first ever Pride event (Gloucestershire Pride). I wore the Agrespect #OutOnTheFarm t-shirt and carried a giant soft toy cow. It was amazing to take part, be myself but also be myself as an upcoming farmer.
I am currently cutting down on days on my other work and dairy is rapidly becoming the main job. It’s a career I love. A career I am learning in. A career that I am showing new skills.
My advice – Be who you are and don’t hide from it.