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America's thriving gay rodeo scene [View All]

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Thom Little Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-05 08:54 AM
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America's thriving gay rodeo scene
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Gay rodeos have been around in the US since the mid-Seventies. While to some the very notion of gay rodeo competitors might seem rather unlikely, today there are around 25 events every year across the country and the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) is the third largest rodeo group in the world.

The idea of the cowboy as something of an icon within the gay community is nothing new. But the rodeo is not simply an opportunity to ogle and get in close at the raucous line-dancing parties that inevitably follow the day-time events. Many of the participants grew up in rural communities where wrestling steers and roping calves was a way of life and though they moved to the cities after coming out to have an easier life, many desired the chance to return to their roots. This is their chance.

"I used to go to the rodeo as a child," says Evans, a ridiculously young-looking 79-year-old who has come with his friend, Bonfield, because his partner is apparently not interested in the rodeo. "It was one of my favourite things."

Meanwhile, even the mainstream movie business has come to terms with the idea that cowboys can be gay. Whereas in the classic Western there was at best a frisson of homoerotic camaraderie, in Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's new film based on an Annie Proulx short story, a ranch-hand and a rodeo cowboy - played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger - become lovers. Their relationship is set against the backdrop of beautiful but harsh rural Wyoming and, despite its content - shocking for much of middle America - the film is hotly tipped for Oscar success next year.
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