“I left the farm because my father never accepted my homosexuality. But farming was my dream.”
“My father didn’t want a “fag” to succeed him,” confided 27‑year‑old Charles. “I didn’t speak to my father again for five years.” The young man also attempted suicide twice.
“I loved to work in the piggery,” said Rémi, “but when the other employees learned I was gay, all hell broke loose. They ridiculed me and joked openly about the subject. No‑one wanted to work alone with me. The worst was that even the boss’ behaviour toward me changed. He avoided me and never stood up for me.”
Fortunately, there are other stories, such as that of Pierre who is a partner with his parents. When he told them he loved a man, their first reaction of shock and denial was followed by acceptance. With much emotion, Pierre’s father, a strapping man with a firm step and voice, told me, “I found it hard to deal with those first few weeks, but we love our son more than anything in the world. And since he’s happy the way he is, we accept and respect him. Too bad for people who don’t understand.”
Pierre’s parents have extraordinary qualities: open‑mindedness, unconditional love and respect for their child’s life choices. Too often, I hear cruel comments about homosexuality: “He can just change.” “It’s a perversion.” or “It’s immoral.” These remarks demonstrate a lack of knowledge, of respect or simply of open‑mindedness.
First, being a homosexual or a lesbian is not a choice. This is how a person is born. According to various studies, 5 to 8% of people are attracted to the same sex. Note that homophobia (all forms of discrimination, exclusion or violence against homosexuals) hurts the victim directly, as well as the family, the business and farming in general. The next generation (girl or boy) or potential employees will think twice before entering a business or an environment where they perceive a lack of open‑mindedness or respect.
Not only the next generation or an employee is harmed and may be pushed to depression, or worse, suicide, by scorn and rejection. First and foremost, this person is a human being. As a parent, first of all, the sarcastic comments on this subject must stop. A child who discovers his or her homosexuality may deny it for a long time, or, in the extreme, decide to kill him or herself because he or she cannot find the strength to face a parent’s judgment or rejection. Second, ego must be set aside. (What a shame for our family. What will other say about us… about me). Be aware that you cannot change this. However, your attitude will make all the difference to your future relationships and will affect your child’s ability to come to terms with his or her choice.
Finally, as an employer, it is your duty to ensure that each employee is treated with respect, independent of his or her life choices. You must intervene if this is not the case.
The best way to break down prejudice is to get to know people about whom you have a prejudice. Therefore, rather than avoiding them like the plague, get to know them better and appreciate them for what they are: human beings like you and I. And rest assured, homosexuality is not a germ you can catch. It is not contagious.
Work Psychologist, professionnal speaker, author and business coach
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