|Gay Rodeo Dreams
The first gay rodeo was held in 1976 in Reno, Nevada, as a benefit for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Since then, the schedule of IGRA-sanctioned events has grown to include 16 rodeos in locations across the country, as well as a national finals.
Events divide into four categories: roughstock, which includes the categories most of us are familiar with, such as bareback bull riding; roping events, including roping on and off a horse; speed events, like barrel racing; and camp events, which are usually unique to the gay rodeo world. Camp events include goat dressing, in which a two-person team attempts to pull a pair of undershorts over a goat’s back legs; steer decorating, and wild drag racing, in which a man or woman in female “drag” must mount a bucking steer and stay on over the finish line. Costumes in this competition are particularly outrageous.
Even so, gay rodeo is serious rodeo, and many straight competitors join the circuit for the opportunity to participate. One difference from the main rodeo circuit is that there are no gender restrictions, and women are welcome to compete in all events. According to participant Scott Bidstrup, “Watching a serious bull-riding gay cowboy hop onto the back of 2,000 pounds of pissed-off pot-roast will surely put to rest anyone’s ideas that gay rodeo isn’t serious rodeo or that gay men can’t be real men.”