Returning to His Roots

In his own words, David Waugh talks about how he has come full circle from being raised on a farm to coming out and owning his own.

In his own words, David Waugh talks about how he has come full circle from being raised on a farm to coming out and owning his own.

I was born and raised on a third generation family dairy farm outside Poynette, Wisconsin. I didn’t feel connected to the farming lifestyle; I felt like a city boy dropped off and forgotten. When I entered puberty, I realized I was different. Living in the country, I would on occasion find dirty magazines along the side of the road, chucked out, I imagine, by men whose wives wouldn’t approve. I preferred the magazines with couples because I could look at the objects of my increasing desire—men! Like many gay boys of my generation and circumstance, I fought hard to suppress my homosexual desires and in doing so, I assumed the hardened identity of a heterosexual farm boy.

During my early 20’s I would on occasion visit the Hotel Washington’s gay bars with my closest friend, an openly bisexual woman. My own sexuality however was still a closely guarded secret. At the age of 27, I married my college girlfriend. At the time I considered myself bisexual, committed to living as a heterosexual. Three years later we had a child.

The year my son was born I was working full time at the university. To make a few extra bucks I went back to my roots, literally, and started growing organic lettuce on my parents’ farm. I joined the Dane County Farmer’s Market and sold lettuce every Saturday morning on Madison’s Capitol Square. For me, it was the discovery of a buried passion for growing things. My buried gay identity, however, was starting to have an effect on my marriage.

While in Madison, I realized I was living in a community that didn’t give a damn if I liked sex with women or men like the way a small town would. I took the plunge and came out to my family. I’m forever grateful for their immediate and overwhelming support. A burden was lifted. My wife and I parted as friends.

After dating men for a year, I met my husband, Bob, through an online personals service. We had a lot in common—he, too, was going through a divorce, and we shared a passion for gardening. Together we continued growing lettuce for the spring farmer’s markets.

After Bob was laid off from his professional career a few years later, we decided he should pursue a full-time career in horticulture. We bought land out by Mount Horeb and in 2004, Morningwood Farm Nursery was born. The name, coincidentally, was the overwhelming choice of neighbors gathered at a potluck dinner one summer evening. We employ four seasonal workers, and we are open to the public from April through November. We carry just about every plant you would ever want, and we specialize in unique and hard-to-find varieties. We converted our farmer’s market stand from lettuce to nursery stock.

The community near our farm has been very accepting, and we feel right at home there. Certainly we have customers who might not be comfortable with us, but I think it does them a world of good to see a family farming operation being run by a gay couple. I think it is important for people to be exposed to the normalcy that dominates gay lives. We are not, after all, Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor on “Green Acres,” as much as I like the camp imagery.

This past spring my son wrote a paper on gay marriage at the same time that the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. We were already going to be in California in August visiting family anyway so we jumped at our chance. We were married in San Diego after nine years together and before California voters passed Proposition 8, outlawing any future gay marriages in that state.

Now that we’re married, it is nice to call Bob my husband, rather than my partner. This clears up a lot for people who were never quite sure if the word partner meant in the business sense or something more. We currently do not have a house on our property, but we hope to change that soon. Bob wants to be closer to his new John Deere tractor!