Meet the man trying to break down LGBT stereotypes in farming
A gay farmer has opened up about the struggle he faced in coming to terms with his identity.
Ben Lewis, who lives in Wales, told ITV News that he married a woman and lived as a straight man because he didn’t see a life for himself as gay in farming.
“I thought to myself, ‘Well you can’t be gay if you’re a farmer.’ The two did not go together,” he said.
Gay farmer Ben Lewis thought he would have to ‘get married, have children and settle down’ for a career in farming.
“There are such stereotypes with farmers that it’s almost expected that you get married, have children, settle down on the farm, and that’s what life entails as a farmer,” he continued.
However, Lewis said that living a life that was not authentic weighed on him.
“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.
“I wish I knew that the person that had the biggest problem with it was myself.”
He later came out to his friends and family and is now living openly as a gay farmer. Since then, he met his partner, Frazer, and they have been together for two years. The pair now work on the farm together and they want to have their own farming enterprise moving forward.
He is also a supporter of an LGBT+ farmers’ group called Agrespect. The group works to promote and support diversity in the countryside.
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He never thought he would get the chance to be both openly gay and a farmer.
In a blog post written for Agrespect, Lewis wrote that he and his wife parted amicably after four years when he came out as gay.
“I never thought that I would get the opportunity to combine my personal life and farming,” he wrote.
“I initially thought that I had to hide my sexuality to be a farmer and then thought that I had to hide being a farmer to be gay.
“However, through awareness, inclusion and shifting attitudes, I am now living ‘the normal life.’ Normal is living with the person you love and doing the things you’re passionate about – life is too short not to.”
According to the organisation, there are thousands of LGBT+ people living in rural areas. Their goal is to “unite them, celebrate them and encourage inclusiveness in rural communities.”