Carol runs a one person office and shares a secretary. She fields over 200 calls a month and approaches each call as an opportunity to identify the area of government affected by the issue and bring together the parties affected.
Our gorgeous 35-year-old city wonder heralds from Guyman, Oklahoma. She earned her Bachelor Degree in Psychology (1975) and Master Degree in Counseling and Guidance (1976) from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Carol and a man she dated on campus 'came out' to each other and developed a strong friendship. He moved to Denver and invited Carol to come up for a visit. Knowing it was time to leave Oklahoma, Carol found that Denver not only met her criteria for a new home; she also fell in love with the city, adopting the title, Denverite, in June of 1977, as she started for working for the Colorado Department of Education.
In 1980, a new challenge arrived in the form of the "Chicano Education Project," where she met Federico Pena, a young staff attorney from San Antonio, Texas. In 1983 when Federico launched his campaign for Mayor he asked Carol to help, then very quickly moved to put her in the position of his office manager. Carol felt the young mayoral candidate "needed to know." The progressive Federico was already at work building bridges with the gay community. His reaction to Carol's gayness was to produce a list of gay people with whom he wanted to communicate, and he said "Let's go to work!"
Carol has since served on Mayor Peñ's Transition Team, the Mayor's Task Force on AIDS, the Governor's AIDS Advisory Council, and presently on the Denver Women's Commission (her pet interest is on the issue of violence). Carol states thatthe current administration of city government in Denver is very open to all people. She feels the gay community would still have had great access even without her position. Many in our community feel that without Carol serving as a conduit, it would have taken far longer to enjoy results.
Carol is openly gay in her job and experiences no problems in dealing with any of her counterparts. Reflecting on her work and the pressures of her schedule, Carol says, "I am really lucky to enjoy a job where I can 'make a difference!'"
Outside of work, Carol relaxes with favorite pastimes including playing guitar and piano. She is especially active in volleyball, and, recently she has been enjoying a romance with 'the special interest' in her life (an attorney, of course!). We all say "Thanks, Carol" and C.G.R.A. particularly wishes you happiness and a great weekend at R.M.R. Rodeo #6.
In the 1939 movie, It's A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart is given the unique opportunity to see and actually experience the difference his life has made on the world and those about him. Today that film could be remade with even more impact focusing on the life of Bob Engel.
While many have the opportunity to affect, influence and contribute to the world in which they live few use it as effectively-or as generously-as Bob Engel. As owner of BJ's Carousel, he has made the bar a center of healthful and positive social activity in the community, while helping to make possible and sustain many community endeavors.
Predictably, Engel is a modest man, almost embarrassed by any acclaim. Tall, large-boned and easy-going, he is a Westerner in the best sense of the word and a man with his roots firmly in the land.
Born in Agate, CO, the eldest of three sons, Engel grew up on his father's cattle ranch. "I was practically born on a horse: he says, "and my brothers and I did all the ranch things ... roping, branding, riding roundup."
"I used to think that jumping on a wild calf and riding it was the greatest thing in the world." Engel continues. "That is until I discovered girls. That was about the age of 14 or 15. After that I couldn't have told you horse from a steer."
Then he went away to school, first to Lamar Junior College then on to Gunnison where he received his BA in Speech and English.
After graduation Engel entered the teaching profession. He taught both junior and senior high in Limon for three years and junior high in Aurora for seven years. To supplement his income, he worked a variety of jobs including stints as a construction worker, bartender, real estate agent, and Black Jack dealer in Las Vegas.
Then Engel got into the vending machine business. Using the money he got from remodeling and selling a house his grandmother sold him, he bought a cigarette and candy route, quickly expanded to three routes and, within three years, had 85 machines in 50 locations.
About this time Bob met John Nuegebauer, a native of Oklahoma City who had experience in the bar business. It wasn't long before the two decided to enter an extended business and personal partnership.
It took more than a year of looking to find the right location but finally, in December 1977, BJ's Carousel opened its doors to the public. Located at 1380 S. Broadway, it has been a "community center" ever since.
A variety of sports and fun events have made BJ's a natural gathering place over the years. The Prom Court & Homecoming originated at BJ's. Likewise the Denver Recreational Volleyball Assoc. Other activities include the annual All Star Volleyball games between Denver and Salt Lake City, Bj's annual Mountain Picnic, Christmas in july, and much more.
The bar also sponsored the nationally recognized "Salute to Creativity" competitions for visual artists for four consecutive years and holds regular fundraisers for such organizations as the Rainbow Society, Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Club, the Imperial Court, the Sovereign Court, CAP, and others.
In 1979, Bob became a member of the Board of Directors of the GLCCC and helped spearhead the fight for its expansion. In 1980, he helped form the Denver Tavern Guild (now the Colorado Tavern Guild) and served as its president for two years.
Out of his work with the GLCCC and Tavern Guild came the formation of the Colorado AIDS Project as a separate entity. ln fact, Bj's sponsored the first fundraiser for the present CAP, a Casino Night & Auction that raised $4,700.
Engel served as President of CAP for two years and, variously, as treasurer, advisor and board member.
Most recently Bob has been involved with the founding and funding of Casa de Vida, an adjunct to CAP concerned with housing for PWA's. Their main project at this time is Jesser House. Engel currently serves as chairman of the committee.
Over the years Bob has received many awards and citations form the community and organizations he has served. Among them: Man of the Year award from the Denver Professional Men's Club; distinguished service citations from ICRME; the humanitarian award from SCOP; and, honorary membership in the Rocky Mountain Mountaineers.
Regarding his many recognitions, Engel says simply he is honored. He also says that "if I can influence just one person for the better, help just one person, then my life is wildly successful...and the greatest award I can receive is to see it passed on."
In this regard he has special kudos for the community as a whole. "If you can say anything positive has come out of the AIDS crisis it is that people care and are showing their caring now," he says.
"I have seen so much love come out of our community because of this god-awful thing that has happened to us," Engel says. "There are so many wonderful people out there doing so many wonderful things that it has provided unity and outreach that never existed before ... and these are the real heroes."
The state of Colorado and its inhabitants played a major role in the writing of Western History. Individuals of dedication, fortitude, and vision explored and settled untamed regions of the west. Their ideals of strength, selfreliance, and inner pride live on today embodied in what is known as the Western image.
It was with reflection on this past, indentification with this image, and a commitment to a positive future that a group of gay men and women formed the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association in September of 1981.
Not an activist or separatist group, the Association is dedicated to the positive interaction of people in the true spirit of the West. Since its inception, C.G.R.A. has created and maintained activities which draw people together with a sense of Western Hospitality.
All stops were pulled out as C.G.R.A. hosted the 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo in June of 1983. People were welcomed from all over the United States and Canada to a weekend of country fun in the Mile High City.
The Association and its members will continue to strive to create a positive image of gay men and women in the light of Western spirit. Our members have worked hand in hand with other states to form similar Associations. We welcomed the great state of Texas in 1983 with the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (T.G.R.A:) and actively took part in their 1st rodeo in November, 1984. Our members traveled to and supported the formation of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (G.S.G.R.A.) in California in early 1984 and took part in their 1st rodeo at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in March, 1985. Transplanted C.G.R.A. members actively took part in forming the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (A.G.R.A.) and held their 1st rodeo in January, 1986.
C.G.R.A. is proud to be a member of the International Gay Rodeo Association, which now has nine member states including Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and soon to add number ten, Oregon.
I.G.R.A. was formed to provide a standard for rules, points and organization of a rodeo. I.G.R.A. now sanctions each of the rodeos on our circuit. We are grateful to I.G.R.A.'s first Board of Trustees and Officers for their dedication to Gay Rodeo! All inquiries are welcomed from all parts of the country from groups or individuals wishing assistance in the formation of similar groups.
C.G.R.A. is, once again, pulling out all the stops in presenting "Country Jamboree '88". This is the culmination of a three-year effort made by the Gay Community working together to produce the largest Pride Celebration Denver and the whole state of Colorado have ever seen.
Kicking off with "Stonewall Day" on June 26th with a march from the Capitol Building to Cheeseman Park, followed by the Mile High Freedom Band Concert on June 30th, "How The West Was One". Friday, July 1st, is R.M.R. RODEO #6 contestant signup and the "Mile-High HoeDown" sponsored by the Colorado Tavern Guild. Saturday and Sunday, July 2nd and 3rd, is the Rocky Mountain Regional Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival, in the Grand Ballroom of the Regency Hotel. Sunday, July 3rd, the Gay Pride Parade takes place on the Regency Hotel Grounds and goes through the Rodeo Arena.
Not to mention the 6th Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo going on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, July 2nd, 3rd and 4th! Awards ceremony for the rodeo will be held Monday evening to conclude a week of the most fantastic Pride Celebration ever.
Now I am not saying there is anything blatantly suicidal about wanting to ride broncs and test yourself against some very angry bulls, but one does have to possess a certain degree of "Death Wish." Perhaps my viewpoint is a tad bit slanted. After all, I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Cowboys are hard to come by in Flatbush. I can only say, in retrospect, that my first season as housemate, sister, friend, nurse, physical therapist and resident worrier to my favorite cowboy was - and here I insert, what can only be classified as the understatement of the century - fascinating!
I should have known trouble was afoot when T.J. started dropping subtle hints like "I think I'm gonna start riding bulls." Like any other reasonably sane person, I received this news with great equanimity. I screamed. I shrieked. I tore my hair. I cried. In other words, I used every ploy in the Women's Handbook of Inexplicable Behavior. It didn't help. Several 'exchanges' ensued with no apparent change of intent. So ... I adjusted to the inevitable. I stocked up on bandages, liniment, splints, antiseptic, Valium (for me) and practiced my best "Go get 'em Cowboy!" smile. Basic coward that I am, I felt it would be best if I didn't go watch the practice riding sessions. T.J. kept insisting that I would worry much less if I were actually there, but I remained adamant.
The night of the first practice rides I set a new world record for pacing. First I paced the floors. That didn't help. Then I paced the ceiling. That was worse. And the images that flashed into my mind! I could see T.J. with a half-ton bull doing a chorusline routine across his back. I could envision some mean-eyed horse kicking him in the head intentionally of course. Increasingly vivid scenes of blood and gore were holding a video film festival in my head. By 9:00 p.m. I was plotting the best routes to St. Anthony's - which I had decided was the hospital they had taken him to in the ambulance, since it was closest. Right about then T.J. came waltzing into the room looking terribly smug and pleased with himself and muttering something about his making it to eight seconds. I could have throttled him. I'm having a coronary and he's fine! He won that round. I attended every practice ride and rodeo event from then on. I watched him ride - and could that man ride!
The morning of the Rodeo it was a toss-up as to which of us was more deserving of an Oscar nomination - T.J. for appearing blase and confident or me for appearing unconcerned and nonhysterical. We approached the arena with the same kind of mental mind game you would use in living theatre. He was being John Wayne ("Shucks ma'am, twarn't nuthin"') and I was giving it my best Melanie Wilkes. I must admit T.J. held up well. His heroic veneer only slipped once. When the rough-stock riders drew their bulls, I heard him mumbling something about "Nobody said anything about horns. Two lousy bulls with horns and I had to draw one of them!" I paled slightly but decided fainting might be interpreted by some as lack of confidence in his ability. I took a Valium instead, muttered a feeble "Go get 'em Cowboy," and took my place in the stands.
First event of the day, bronc riding. First out of the chute, T.J.. Let me digress and say that timekeepers lie. They claimed the ride was six seconds, but I know I watched him being jarred apart on the back of that beast for at least 20 minutes. This bone-jarring ride culminated in T.J. falling to the ground (I knew it!) and having the bronc take a short-cut across his spine (I could have bet on it!). As the medics helped T.J. out of the arena, I threw a victorious wave his way and swallowed another Valium.
This was just the beginning of a fun-filled day of frolic. Within two hours we were hard pressed to find an uninjured contestant. We had sprains, cuts, bruises, breaks, dislocations, and one broken back. Do we know how to have fun or what!?!
To add to this joy-filled event, it began to rain in a manner not unlike Noah's infamous shower. The crowd did not find this amusing; the contestants did not find this amusing, not even the stock found this amusing.
Last event of the day, bull riding (did you know this event can be held using pontoons or water wings?) T.J. was up again on that very large, very wet bull - you know the one with the horns. As I watched, chewing my nails to the knuckles, he came out of the chute, slid down the bull's back like it was a water slide, did a terrific flip over the sucker's head, and came down directly between the horns. Was I worried? Of course not! Was I screaming? Don't be silly! I very calmly extracted my arm, which I had swallowed to the elbow, from my throat and took another Valium. By this time I figured I was so calm I was almost comatose.
I could have decided to dance a two-step with the bull and taken it in stride. It took T.J. four weeks to mend from all this fun. It took me six weeks to get over my valium addiction.
Yet there was a certain "something" that each of these people took away from the arena - along with their injuries. There was kind of pride, a sense of having been tested and not found wanting. Each of them limped a little taller after that rodeo.
So here we are once again, rodeo time. Do you think I'm going through all that again? Do I seem like the kind of fool who is going to sit out in the hot sun and the dust watching those near and dear to me being bruised, stomped, thrown, and otherwise abused all in the name of some idiotic notion of western fun and sports? You bet your Tony Llamas, sweetheart! For some insane reason, there is a bizarre satisfaction in watching some ordinary guy or gal just like you winning in a contest of wills against some seemingly unbeatable opponent.
So I'll be there, my friends, yelling myself horase again. Worrying again over every friend who takes a fall and being thoroughly hooked on the greatest sporting event there is - Rodeo! Go get 'em cowboys & cowgirls!
One of the best parts of the Rodeo celebration are the many opportunities to catch some of the best in gay Country entertainment as the collective voice of gay America turns its attention to Denver, Colorado- the number one place to be on the 4th of July weekend!
Rodeo week will feature two of the top gay Marching/Concert Bands in America - Denver's own Mile High Freedom Band and The Desert Overatures from Phoenix, Arizona, performing in concert with emcee Danny Williams, one of the nation's funniest gay comedians. Also performing through the weekend will be Denver Country Cloggers, Chariie's Country Cloggers, Phoenix, many other clogging, square dancing, and formation troupes from around the country, new western singers, and the traditional best in impersonation.
The weekend features a band concert, three dances, two entertainment shows and a Rodeo 1st, performances for the Rodeo Grandstands all three days by the dance troupes.
We will enjoy the return of Satin and Lace and the introduction of the country band After the Fact.
Among the groups scheduled to appear:
At press time the I ist of confirmed dance groups and individual performers continues to grow, with the promise that this weekend you will grow fond of hearing the words "Let Us Entertain You!"