“Out Here” explores what it means to be a modern-day queer farmer here in America. It is a full-length documentary that looks at the relationship between the growing community of queer farmers and the larger modern food production industry that sustains our country. It was in production for four years and now we finally have it. It asks the questions of what it means to be a queer farmer, if agriculture is a safe space for queer people, and if there are what relationships between food production and queerness.”
Jonah Mossberg is a farmer and a gay man living in rural America. This is first film and he made it because of the lack of visibility his community, gay farmers, has had. His film could possibly bring what he has to say to other queer farmers thereby letting us know about a group within the LGBT community that until now we have not been aware of.
The photos of rural America are gorgeous and what we see and hear in this documentary fall somewhere in between telling stories and speaking from the heart. Mossberg wanted the film to tell the stories of diverse and different kinds of farmers and so we hear from urban and rural farmers, people of color, young people and older people. It is interesting that many queer farmers speak about their spiritual connections to the earth.
Then there are farmers who feel that there is a strong connection between gay people and the land—something that heterosexual people do not feel or sense. Today sexuality no longer is just for the purpose of reproduction yet some of our queer farmers feel the need to bring life to the world and this is seen through planting and the fermentation of food as well as the animals giving birth on the farm.
With the film came the creation of the queer farmer project and some feel that they do not want to be primarily labeled as queer because they feel it separates them from others and I suspect that one day we will no longer see such a label—we will be simply “people” or “farmers” without an additional descriptive term. Labels and names affect the way we go through life and since being gay or queer is only one aspect of who we are, some find the word to be too defining and constrictive. We also hear that the term “queer” does not define the way the farmers work.
We meet partners, Kay Grimm and Sue Spicer, explain that the name of their farm, Fruit Loop Acres, was chosen because of its many double-entendres: “We’re fruits!” They grow fruits, and they participate in a closed loop, using as many of their and neighbors’ products and byproducts as possible. Again, the cinematography is gorgeous and I find it fascinating watching others do the work that most of us have never thought to do.
In the experience of his identity in his chosen profession, Mossberg says, “Farming is the first place where I don’t need to break down into my component parts.” Then there are those who speak about being outsiders in that they are both gay and farmers. (I am so reminded of the many years I spent on a kibbutz in Israel doing the kind of work that many gay people eschew and loving every minute of it).
It is the Mossberg’s dream that this project and film will bring notice to queer people in agriculture and inspire a national discussion about gender and sexuality as they are related to our food system.