Life on the Gay Rodeo Circuit
By Bryan van Gorder
?"At least it?s a dry rain," quipped the cowboy as he headed out from under the shelter of the General Store?s porch into the gray drizzle to smoke, appropriately enough, a Marlboro.
Although the unseasonably weird mid-February rainfall was wetting the ground of Rawhide -- a touristy replica of a Wild West town -- it did little to dampen the great mood at the Road Runner Regional Rodeo in Phoenix, Arizona, the first stop on the International Gay Rodeo Association (IRGA) circuit, which runs from February through November.
For over 25 years, the IGRA has attracted amateur cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life and all over North America to compete throughout the U.S. and Canada. Events for the competition include a lot of what you would expect to see at any rodeo: bull riding, team calf roping, and barrel racing to name a few.
However, there are also a few crowd-pleasing "camp events" which are special to the gay rodeo circuit like Steer Decorating (where a two-person team must lead a steer across a line and then tie its tail with a ribbon), the Wild Drag Race (which involves a cowboy and cowgirl leading a steer across a finish line with a man or woman in drag riding it), and the Goat Dressing event (where a two-person team attempts to put a pair of tighty whities on a goat. Yes, a goat.) Don't let this moniker of "camp" fool you though, competition is intense and there are competitors of all skill levels including those that have grown up on farms or around livestock and, so, arrive on the circuit as seasoned professionals.