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Equality in the Dell: Gay Farmers Come Out

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Aug 31, 2010
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Gay farmers in Canada have come out--and banded together in a social club where they can talk about crops and the weather, just like any other farmer, reported Canadian newspaper The National Post on July 27.

The Gay Farmers Club is one of a number of groups that operate under the aegis of Au coeur des familles agricoles (ACFA), an organization created to help Canada’s farmers with the pressures that modern life--along with soaring debt, international trade, and a gap between how people in other lines of work live their lives, and how farmers are tied--literally, and often without a break--to the land.

The article noted that for farmers of all persuasions, the work is hard and unending. Isolation is a problem, also, since farmers have little chance to get away from their crops and livestock, and younger farmers are now more often single than used to be the case.

"We share personal stories, but mostly we discuss farming and agriculture," one member told the publication. "It’s great because we face similar challenges as both farmers and gay people living in rural regions--and we don’t need to explain ourselves."

Nor do they need to out themselves to the world at large if they would rather not; another member, who remained anonymous, told the newspaper, "I think it would be disastrous for my business if people knew I was gay. The agricultural world is very macho. Bulls are bulls and cows are cows--it’s that simple."

Yet, even in this bastion of heterosexual masculinity, acceptance is growing: gay farmers now even have their own social networking site, Gay Farmer Central.com, where they can seek companionship and more with others who will know where they are coming from. As one member put it at the site, "Farmers and Ranchers are more down to earth, like myself, than most gays."

Posted another: "Looking for a down to earth guy that has his act together. No time or energy for drama."

While high-profile dramas such as Brokeback Mountain may have broached the uncomfortable, to some, topic of gays in rural America working as ranchers or farmhands, smaller film projects--such as The Queer Farmer Project, centered around farms such as the lesbain-run Fruit Loop Acres--where fruit is grown in the middle of an urban environment--are also set to make an impact.

"The Queer Farmer Film Project is creating a full-length documentary film which explores the dynamic relationships between gender, sexuality, and agriculture, with a particular focus on the hearts and hard work of America’s queer farmers," text art the Project’s Facebook page explains.

Indeed, the duo of gentleman farmers featured on the cable program The Fabulous Beekman Boys have also helped to re-cast hidebound images of farming life--and break down stereotypes of gays as sissified city mice.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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