No midnight cowpersons here. Well, maybe 100-200 or more treasures of the Sierra Madre up from the Western bars of San Francisco, conveniently transported in the air-conditioned comfort of Gay Line Tours, to cruise the real thing for a change -- dyed-in-the-wool cowboys and cowgirls who know how to ride, wrangle and lasso a dogie, to two-step, reel and polka, and to have a hell of a good time at a rodeo -- a gay rodeo, at that.
In its third year, the Reno Gay Rodeo, sponsored by the Comstock Gay Rodeo Association and the Silver Dollar Court, proved to be as much an excuse to tet together for heavy-duty socializing and a little bull-throwing as it did for that dust-eating, gut-wrenching, butt-busting series of events common to this great Western tradition.
Gay contestants from California, Nevada and Arizona, vying for the $100 cash prize and "All Around Cowboy and Cowgirl" cups plus assorted buckles and other awards, participated in bull riding, saddle and bareback bronc riding, calf roping (on foot and mounted), barrel racing and team roping. A greased-pig catch, a non-traditional wild cow milk (featuring an amusing menage au lait comprising a lesbian, a drag queen and a gay man intent on getting a few drops of milk from a most uncooperative group of cows) and banter of clowns added to the fun and excitement of the two-day event.
A real, live barn dance at the River Inn with music by San Francisco's Western Electric band kicked off the festivities. Proceeds were sashayed into cash for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. One couldn't help but wonder if the same gender couples dancing together were not closer to the real Wild West spirit than the Cooper-Sheridan movie stereotypes.
With hundreds of out-of-towners, the poplar gay watering holes in Reno were filled with new faces, most sporting their best Western drag. As a group of metro-Marlboro men sidled into the midnight show at the MGM Grand, a cocktail waitress smiled and quipped, "Well, well, another group of Boy Scout leaders, I* presume." "No, ma'am," was the quick reply, "just boy scouts."
The Advocate, September 20, 1978