Reflections from under the Derby

you're not thinking about this stuff

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It Gets Better and being different
A few weeks ago, I contacted someone with our company's GLBT employee network with the suggestion that it would be cool if we could make a video for the It Gets Better Project.

The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach - if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone - and it WILL get better.

We have several high school groups come through our site each year on tours - many of them from FFA groups. It stands to reason that a number of gay teens probably come through our doors each year. Given that rural communities tend to be conservative in nature, gay teens in that environment could be more likely to have difficulties embracing who they really are. So, I think that as a leader in the agricultural industry, we could send a strong message of hope and support to these teens. And so this was my suggestion.

Today I attended my first meeting of our LGBT employee network where the issue would be discussed. The group was supportive of the idea and we're going to try to do it. Of course the caveat is that the same issues that make it difficult for these teens would also make it difficult as a business to come out strongly in support of these teens. At the end of the day, I suspect we won't do anything that might alienate lots of our customers. We're going to try anyway and I hope we succeed. It would make me happy to know that one of those teens could be feeling down and see a bag of seed with our name on it knowing that not only do we support his family by providing them with high quality products to help make them successful farmers, but we also support them in their struggles to embrace their identity.

A funny thing happened while I was sitting in that meeting today. As I sat there and looked around the table, I realized I was probably the only straight person in the room. On the way over to the meeting, I'll admit to not knowing what it would be like attending the meeting (not knowing anyone in the room). Everyone was great and they loved the idea. But as I sat there thinking about the other folks in the room, for the first time in my life I realized what it was like to be "different". I'd say most of the time in a group of people, I am always in a group of the majority, especially being a white male. I suppose I was a little self-conscious but I certainly have a different appreciation for what it's like to be the "different" guy in the room.

At the end of the meeting I stayed and talked with the two organizers. One of them grew up on a farm and knows what those kids go through. We had watched an It Gets Better video during the meeting and as he and I talked about what it would mean if we did this, I got choked up and had to look away to compose myself. I knew I felt strongly enough about this to try to get something done, but after choking up talking about it with that guy, I learned that I care more about it than I realized. I really hope we can pull this off.

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