The Gay Rodeo: More than just hot cowboys and cowgirls….
Published Thursday, 09-Sep-2010 in issue 1185
When you look beyond the title you realize this is an organization that does more than just ride horses, wear cowboy hats and tame bulls. They are and have been an integral part of GLBT culture for longer than most realize. In fact they have been around since 1975 when Phil Ragsdale came up with the idea to hold a gay rodeo to raise money for the local senior citizens. The Gay Rodeo was started by The Imperial Court De San Diego by the then reigning Emperor 1 of Reno Phil Ragsdale, as a creative and fun way to raise money for the community. Since its beginnings it has given those who have always wanted to participate in rodeo, and those who grew up in the rodeo who were GLBT an outlet where they could be themselves, while enjoying one of Americas most favored and rugged past times.
The organizers of The Gay Rodeo pride themselves on being all inclusive. For those riders who wish to compete, in an event that has traditionally been a male only bastion, The Gay Rodeo has been the answer to their wishes. It allows all to compete regardless of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity in any event they choose. At The Gay Rodeo the competition and events are taken seriously and the organizers take pride in the fact that the judging and the participants are as professional as in the mainstream rodeo circuit. One of the things that stand out most about the Gay Rodeo is the events and entertainment that cater to everyone. This is unique to The Gay Rodeo and includes such events as goat dressing.
It takes a team of very dedicated and hard working individuals to bring the rodeo and its culture to San Diego every year. They work tirelessly to ensure that all of us can experience a part of our culture that we otherwise might not be able to. They are true torch bearers of a sport that most associate with bigotry. On a broader scale the more options and entertainments we have, options that heterosexuals have always had access to, the better it is for our community and the people who make it up.
Since the start of The Gay Rodeo the organization has raised over a million dollars for countless number of charities, with well over thousands and thousands of people benefiting from these donations. Some of the organizations touched by the generous donations of The Gay Rodeo are as follows, Mama’s Kitchen, Auntie Helen’s, Women shelters, The Toni Akins Lesbian Health Fund, just to name a few.
This year will mark the 21st annual San Diego Gay Rodeo and will bring with it another year of fun, diversity and a new crop of events, supporters and patrons. For those who ride in these events our hats are off to all of you, as jumping on or riding a live animal takes some guts and a lot of skill and practice. Some of these contenders will spend all year training for the Gay Rodeo circuit and in doing so make our community increasingly diverse. It sends a clear message to everyone that there is not simply one way to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. For those who laugh and think that all gays are sissies, all they have to do is attend The Gay Rodeo to dispel this myth. Don’t even think that this is just a man’s sport as all the women in the rodeo show that they can do just as well as the men.
Most will tell you that those involved in The Gay Rodeo and the culture surrounding it are very welcoming and accepting of everybody. They are some of the nicest and most polite people you would ever want to meet. Without an ounce of pretension they all work together and view the people around them not only as friends but as family.
This year’s Gay Rodeo is one not to be missed with new and exciting attractions. Finally, on a sadder note this past year The Gay Rodeo lost someone very dear to all of them, Erin Eaton. Anyone who has had any involvement with the Gay Rodeo has only the most heartfelt and warmest regard for her and she will be much missed.
We are grateful to all of those who keep The Gay Rodeo going year after year and of course to Erin Eaton, her wife, friends and family.