They want to know about others like themselves, maybe make a few gay friends.
Ineson’s own coming-out was like “a great unburdening,” but he doesn’t suggest it for everybody. “I can share my story, or tell people about the relief of coming out,” Inseson said.
“But when you’re afraid of losing your farm, that’s a tough spot to be in.” The helpline doesn’t provide easy solutions, but it has created the beginnings of real community.
The helpline was designed with a simple goal: to let these people know that their feelings – and their struggles – are not unique.
Circumstances are often less dire for Ineson’s younger callers.
For a man who remembers when being gay was a crime, the overwhelming support has been a bellwether.
“I suppose I didn’t realize just how far we’ve come,” Ineson said.In his chaplaincy, Ineson had encountered multiple closeted farmers.Each one thought they were isolated misfits, without a kindred spirit in the world.It inspired a secret, invitation-only gay farmer Facebook group, which led to a Cheshire social group called “Farmers and Friends.” The group has met for BBQ, Indian takeout, and meals in two of the farmer’s homes. “I kid that we’re going to start charging as a dating service,” said Ineson.They’ll use blocked numbers and give fake names, dreading the specter of getting caught.These farmers don’t just fear emotional repercussions; a messy divorce could result in losing their farm.