“]Buzzfeed, the HuffPo-meets-lol cats aggregation site, has profiled the unique and unfortunately more-common-than-you’d think story of Kevin McCaffery, a former Ashland public school teacher-turned-llama farmer and his battle against discrimination in the Bluegrass State, which the site points out is one of 38 states where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees can be fired simply for being themselves.
Kevin worked as a public school teacher for fifteen years before retiring to run his farm full-time. A few years ago, he went back to work as the director of a day care center in Ashland, Kentucky. After being mocked and teased by co-workers and superiors at work, some of whom constantly referred to him as “twinkle toes”, the center forced him to resign in spite of his spotless record.
He sued for wrongful termination and, though the judge agreed that he had been treated unfairly, there is no Kentucky state law regarding anti-gay discrimination at the workplace.
More than a year later, Kevin is still out of work, exhausted, and behind on bills and legal fees. He continues to work on the animal sanctuary he runs on his 18-acre property. LLA-Nanny Farms is home to llamas, cats, dogs, chickens, donkeys and pigs. Many of the animals, especially the 30+ dogs, came to Kevin as strays.
When Kevin spoke to BuzzFeed, he said his main concern was that, due to his financial problems, he wouldn’t be able to feed all of his animals. He has never sold any of them, not even his prize-winning llamas. Now, though, he worries that he may be running out of options.
In Kentucky, only four cities (Louisville, Lexington, Covington and the small Eastern Kentucky hamlet of Vicco) have anti-discrimination laws on their respective municipal books, meaning that what happened to McCaffery according to the Buzzfeed article is perfectly legal.
Aside from a treasure trove of pictures from McCaffery’s farm, the Buzzfeed article describes its dire financial straits, due to the legal battles and, one presumes, the economic realities of being a llama farmer in Kentucky.
Writes McCaffery on his Facebook page:
… things have hit an all time low. The judge threw my case out of the court, stated that he knew that I had been done wrong by my employer but in the great state of Ky. anyone can call you queer and twinkle toes and fire you and that there are no laws to protect you. My unemployment has run out and now I am on food stamps just to have something to eat. I had to change my feed for my animals to a cheaper kind just so that I can provide for them. I am at the mercy of everyone to help feed them anymore. I had to go apply for assistance to try to pay my electric bill today. I have been applying for jobs everywhere. I did get a response from a new preschool/daycare in Lexington. I hope and pray that it works out. I don’t know how I will travel to Lexington everyday and keep up with the farm work, but I’ll cross that bridge if it happens. Sorry to sound so negitive [sic] but right now it’s hard to keep my head up anymore.
McCaffery currently has a Go Fund Me donation page set up on his behalf by members of the Buzzfeed community, and so far a substantial $22,766 has been raised over the past three days.
Writes McCaffery on the donation page:
I would like to take a moment and thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the love that everyone has shown for me and the animals. I appreciate your words of encouragement and understanding. I apologize for not being able to respond to each and every email that I have received. At the present time I do not have internet at home and have to rely on McDonald’s for internet services. As most of you are aware I have numerous animals that their daily care requires me to be there pretty much twenty-four seven. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. They are the love of my life and I wouldn’t change any of it. I just wanted to let you know that I do appreciate everything that you do and make sure that you understand why I may be hesitant to respond to your post.
Love each and every one of you,