Ben Lewis has spoken openly about how he lived as a straight man because he never saw a life for himself as a gay farmer.
Speaking to ITV News, Lewis shared his personal struggle with trying to live a life that was not true to himself. He said, “Looking back I definitely feel that I probably was suffering quite a bit, and then it just dawned on me – a lightbulb moment – that it’s just gotta happen. Not only for myself but for the people that were around me that I loved and they loved me back, to be true to them really.”
Lewis further stated, “I wish I knew that the person that had the biggest problem with it was myself.”
Farming can be intimidating for an LGBT+ person as stereotypes are still ingrained in this field of work. Lewis said, “It’s almost expected that you get married, have children, settle down on the farm, and that’s what life entails as a farmer.”
However, views are changing as people find new ways to reconcile their sexuality and identity with farming. Network group Agrespect provides a vital platform for LGBT+ farmers such as Lewis to share their stories and give guidance to others in similar situations.
Isolation can play a large factor in an LGBT+ farmer’s everyday life as it can be difficult to find others to speak with. In 2010, Chaplin Keith established the Gay Farmer Helpline as a way for queer farmers to reach out and find support.
Social media has played a large part in breaking down the barriers faced by LGBT+ farmers. Lewis said, “Especially in farming where you spend a lot of time on your own, it brings the world into your life.”
From Lewis’ experience, it was by chance that he met his current partner Frazer through an out-of-the-blue Facebook message. That initial spark has led to a strong two year relationship.
The couple have dreams of setting up their own farming industry. As Lewis states, “”It’s about getting on with your daily life and being who you are, doing what you love doing, and also doing it with the person you love.”
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