BARE BACKS (AND CHESTS) AT GAY RODEO!
Professional Rodeo as a competitive sport evolved from the hardworking lifestyle of the American cowhand. The hard life in the Old West produced a character and an attitude that remains a living legend-the American cowboy and cowgirl-emblems of the free spirit. Cowhands continually honed their roping and riding skills, and pride in these abilities gave rise to a competitive spirit. Rodeo has evolved to become one of America's top spectator sports with over 14 million fans attending annually. The rodeo competitor of today is an athlete who trains long and hard for prize money annually amounting to more than $13 million at Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeos and the PRCA National Finals. An exciting sport to watch and a stressful one to compete in, Rodeo had humble beginnings, evolving from a lifestyle of survival. Today it keeps alive the Spirit of Country.
GSGRA Rodeo '88 Program
One of the greatest developments in the last several years has been the proliferation of special interest clubs for gay men and women. Whether it is SM, Italian cooking, square dancing, acting, wrestling, or any one of a huge range of other activities, there is probably an organization for it, or other gay men and/or women who would like to help you organize one. Fortunately Rodeo is one of the subjects already well organized.
To me Rodeo has always been our greatest national sport. Baseball was boring, football was really rather stupid-an excuse for men with too much padding to grab one another, basketball was ok (after all, I was a Hoosier), boxing was even dumber than football. Wrestling was great fun, but more theatre than sport. Then there was Rodeo. As a kid I talked my father into taking me to everyone that took place within striking distance in northern Indiana, and occasionally to Chicago for a really BIG one. Talking him into that wasn't very hard, he loved them too. For my parents' 25th Anniversary I took them to the Great Granddaddy of a Rodeo, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and when I was in grad school in Oklahoma I caught the RCA's National Finals every year in Oklahoma City.
Rodeo and SM have a lot in common. Leather is a very important element in both, its strength, its feel, its aroma! I know that in places like Dallas there can be strong feelings of division between the Black Leather Boys and the Brown Leather Boys but if they would just get together and talk about it I think they'd find there is a lot more that unites them than divides them. Rope is another element common to rodeo and SM, knowing how to handle it properly, what to do with it, what its limitations are. Pain is also a common element. No one enters a rodeo event expecting to be injured, but no one enters without accepting the very real risk of injury. You don't get on the back of a bucking bronc, bull or cow expecting to come off of it feeling the same as you went on. You go on hoping to come off gracefully and only when you intend to, but you also expect to have damn sore muscles from the pounding and exertion even if you don't get thrown. Both Rodeo and SM are about risk and danger, about skill and luck, about dominance and resistance, about pain and exhilaration.
And, let's face it, Cowboys are Sexy! The historical image is one of the masculine icons. The men who rode the ranges and roped steers were MEN in all the desirable connotations of the word. They were strong and skilled and self-sufficient. And they lived in a nearly entirely male society. The range camps and bunkhouses have always been a favored local for writers of erotic fiction. In March I attended the Los Angeles Gay Rodeo sponsored by the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA, Los Angeles Chapter, Box 90873, Long Beach, CA 90809 213 /498-1675) and for the first time did not have to wonder how the cowboy felt about men loving men. It was a great two days of fun and excitement and spectacle-particularly since the hot weather in LA kept most of those cowboys, and cowboy watchers, stripped to the waist much of the time. It is already too late for you to get to The 3rd Annual Great Plains Regional Rodeo in Oklahoma City on May 27:30 (OGRA, PO Box 12485, Oklahoma City, OK 73157 405/942-9305) or the 6th Annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, July 1-4 in Denver (Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, 7900 E Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80220 303/399- 1979) but you can plan on next year. Still coming up are the GSGRA Bay Area Chapter Rodeo at Hayward, CA on August 12-14 (PO Box 410773, San Francisco, CA 94141, 415/621-1777); the International Gay Rodeo Association 2nd Annual Finals Rodeo in Reno, Nevada on October 20-23; the 5th Annual Texas Gay Rodeo in Dallas in November (The Texas Gay Rodeo Association, PO Box 64904, Dallas, TX 75206) and the Fourth Annual Arizona Gay Rodeo in Phoenix in January of 1989.