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Transcript of the above article

Gentle Hero

OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

Interview with Bruce Eden

(As you can see from his photos, Bruce Eden stands out in a crowd. Added to his all-American good looks is a genuine warmth and self-effacing quality that goes right to the heart. When we heard his story, we felt that it had to be told. It's a tale of courage such as might have emanated from the Old West itself. The Editor)

  • EVENTS: Where do you hail from, Bruce?
  • BRUCE: My hometown is San Diego, Texas, in the middle of God's nowhere, down by Laredo. My home now is Creedmoor, Texas, which is about fifteen miles from the state capital in Austin.

  • EVENTS: How big a town is San Diego?
  • BRUCE: It has a feed store and a post office, and that's it. It's in the middle of nowhere. It's just cattle country.

  • EVENTS: You grew up on a ranch?
  • BRUCE: Yes, I grew up on three thousand acres. A cattle ranch. My parents are still there.

  • EVENTS: So you started riding horses at a very early age?
  • BRUCE: Yeah. I went with my dad when he worked out. He just put me on a saddle with him, and he'd take off with me. It's like I've been sitting in a saddle all my life. Still do.

  • EVENTS: Do you live on a ranch now?
  • BRUCE: Yeah. Seventy-five acres in Creedmoor. I have cattle, but not much more than six cows.

  • EVENTS: Is the ranch your living?
  • BRUCE: Oh, no. Professionally, I'm in the hotel business. I've been doing that for fifteen years. I have to pay my bills and eat someway. We make money on the circuit, but not enough to survive on.

  • EVENTS: What do you do in the hotel business?
  • BRUCE: I'm an executive house-keeper at a four-star, luxury hotel in Austin. I've been there three years. They're very good about giving me my time off for rodeos now, because they know I'm gay.

  • EVENTS: They do know you're gay?
  • BRUCE: Yeah. In the hotel industry, there are far more gays than there are in the hairdressing business.

  • EVENTS: Do your parents know?
  • BRUCE: Yeah, my whole family understands. They've known for quite some time.

  • EVENTS: How did it all come about?
  • BRUCE: (pause) Parents aren't stupid. Their son is a thirty-six year-old man, not married, and all his friends are men. They're not dumb. But my parents and I have always been extremely close. They come up to my place and see my friends, and they always invite all my friends down to theirs. And I've had two lovers, one for four years and one for six years, and my parents just sort of accepted them as much as they would my sisters' or my brother's spouses.

  • EVENTS: Did you tell them, or did they just assume it?
  • BRUCE: My dad finally asked me one day. It was just the two of us; my mother and my sisters had gone away for some reason. I finally figured out that that was why they had left the house - he sent them away. He just came out and asked, "Are you a homosexual?" That's the only word he could think of besides queer. I told my daddy, "If you want the truth, I'll tell you the truth, but you're going to have to be able to handle it." He said, "That's all I want - the truth. I don't ever want you to lie to me or to ever be afraid to tell me something." And I did tell him, and it was sort of a shock to him at first. He wanted to give me some counseling, if I wanted it, and I said, "No, I don't." And I had also been married already, for four years....

  • EVENTS: Oh, you had.
  • BRUCE: Before I came out.

  • EVENTS: How old were you when you got married?
  • BRUCE: Twenty-one.

  • EVENTS: Why did you get married?
  • BRUCE: Um...you know, I've always known I was gay, even as a small child. But growing up in the atmosphere in south Texas, where I lived...It was so taboo, so wrong. Even as a child, I knew the desires and wants I had, but they weren't available down there. I mean, our nearest neighbor was like twenty-three miles away. It was ten miles from the highway before you even got to our house. There were no neighbors there, no one to play with, I mean, I just couldn't do anything about it - not till I went off to college.

  • EVENTS: And without any male stimulation, you knew?
  • BRUCE: Yeah, I mean there was none, just my dad, and the wet-backs that worked on our ranch for us, and that was it.

  • EVENTS: Were you married while you were in college?
  • BRUCE: Yeah.

  • EVENTS: Were you in love with her?
  • BRUCE: Oh yes, very much in love with my wife. Very much. We're still very good friends and now she knows.

  • EVENTS: Did you break up because...?
  • BRUCE: No, I didn't come out until after our divorce, even though I still wanted to do that.

  • EVENTS: You were aware all during the marriage?
  • BRUCE: Yeah, I was aware when I was a child - from day one, first grade. I have never doubted it.

  • EVENTS: But I assume you felt sexual attraction for your wife.
  • BRUCE: Right. Oh yeah. Very much.

  • EVENTS: And you had no homosexual experiences at all until after you were divorced.
  • BRUCE: Not till after my divorce, when I met a man who was very good-looking; he made love to me. I blamed it all on alcohol, but I can't really blame it on booze 'cause I wanted to do it. The alcohol just gave me the push over the hill.

  • EVENTS: Do you have a child?
  • BRUCE: Uh huh. Sixteen year old boy.

  • EVENTS: How does he feel having a gay father?
  • BRUCE: We've never really discussed it. He has to know, but we have never discussed it. It's in the whole family - it's just never brought up by me.

  • EVENTS: Are you close to your son? Do you see him?
  • BRUCE: Uh uh. Not as often as I'd like to, no.

  • EVENTS: He's living with your wife?
  • BRUCE: Yes.

  • EVENTS: Have you had any part in his rearing?
  • BRUCE: Only as a small child, the first two years.

  • EVENTS: And then what - a visiting on Sunday kind of thing?
  • BRUCE: Yeah. And holidays and such. Summers.

  • EVENTS: Has she remarried?
  • BRUCE: No. I wish she would (laughs).

  • EVENTS: When did you start with rodeos?
  • BRUCE: My first professional rodeo, one that I won money in and became a professional - that was probably when I was nine years old.

  • EVENTS: Nine?
  • BRUCE: I was really very good as a kid.

  • EVENTS: What did you do?
  • BRUCE: Roping.

  • EVENTS: What are you doing here at this rodeo?
  • BRUCE: I quit all the rough stock. I used to ride the bulls and broncs and all that, until two years ago when I got hurt real bad. So I decided at thirty-six years old, you just can't do this anymore. It hurts to hit the ground now, where, before, you could hit me and I'd bounce off and go right back on another one. But I can't do that now. It hurts. Here, I'm doing mostly the horse events, barrels and pole racing and all the dual camp events and goat decorating and drag race.

  • EVENTS: And you take part in other rodeos, not just the gay rodeos?
  • BRUCE: Yeah, pretty much. Very similar.

  • EVENTS: How do you do?
  • BRUCE: Extremely well. I'm a leading high point in our region and the Austin area. And several horse shows have a five- or six- show series - and at the end of the series they give a high-class saddle and buckles and all that. I leave with quite a few of those. And Glen Hostetler, who's my partner at all these rodeos, he's like second in most of these rodeos we go to.

  • EVENTS: You're first here now, aren't you?
  • BRUCE: Uh... I think Glen is today. This weekend he's beating me.

  • EVENTS: I understand that your horse and Glen's share quarters.
  • BRUCE: Oh yeah. We share everything. He has his own horse, but it's at home and I keep it at my place. He's got a good horse, but it's not as good as mine, so we share mine when we go on the rodeo circuits. It's so much easier for us all to make money, 'cause Joyce Myers also rides my horse, and then I get a percentage of their winnings, plus I get to keep mine, too. And then we share offerings, and it cuts expenses.

  • EVENTS: Are you all from Creedmoor?
  • BRUCE: No, just me. Glen lives fifteen miles away, in Austin, and Joyce is in Houston. And we've been friends for many years. Glen is my best friend.

  • EVENTS: Did you all start out as rodeo friends and then become another kind of friends?
  • BRUCE: I met Joyce on the circuit a couple of years ago. Then, when I decided to go on the gay circuit, I was looking for someone as a partner; I hadn't even met Glen yet, but I heard he needed a partner, and I knew he was very good. So we met. There, in Dallas, a couple of years ago, was the first time Glen and I ever really met and talked. Since then, we've been the best of friends. I'd be lost without him.

  • EVENTS: What kind of social life is there in Creedmoor?
  • BRUCE: (Laughing) Oh, there's none in Creedmoor.

  • EVENTS: Where do you have to go?
  • BRUCE: Into Austin. I don't go out at all. I don't drink and I don't smoke, so I do absolutely no drugs whatsoever. I did all that in my younger days, in college.

  • EVENTS: So you work in the hotel management and you have a farm. What did you say - about half a dozen cows?
  • BRUCE: Yeah. Six cows and two baby calves. Chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs, cats, goats. It's a damn zoo!

  • EVENTS: How many horses?
  • BRUCE: I don't have many horses now. I'm down to four horses. I had about twenty-two at one time. I got very ill a year ago, so I tried to get rid of everything I could, 'cause I didn't think I was going to make it. When I was in the hospital, I told my dad to try to liquidate, to get rid of everything ' cause I needed the money really bad for my bills.

  • EVENTS: Can we ask...is it impertinent to ask...what your illness was?
  • BRUCE: No...no. I have AIDS.

  • EVENTS: Oh, you do.

    BRUCE: I almost died of that, September third, last year.

  • EVENTS: Well, you look healthy enough right now.
  • BRUCE: Well, I am. I think I have the best doctor in the United States. He's a great man.

  • EVENTS: Is he in Austin?
  • BRUCE: He's in Austin, and he says I am his star pupil. I go to the hospitals in Austin and visit with people who aren't doing very well. I think ninety-nine percent of this problem is in people's heads. They give in or they give up or they've just forgotten how to fight. I've always been a very positive person. When I go into the arena, or I do anything in my professional life in the hotel business, I always go in to win, and that's why I tell my doctors I'm going to win this. It's going to be hell! But I'm going to fight and I'm going to win. I'm going to constantly win and keep fighting this.

  • EVENTS: How long ago were you diagnosed?
  • BRUCE: Well, September 3, 1987, was when I went into the hospital with pneumonia. They called my family in - even a priest to give me my last rites.

  • EVENTS: And you beat it.
  • BRUCE: They told me if I made it through the night, I might survive.

  • EVENTS: What kind of treatment are you on now?
  • BRUCE: AZT - I'm doing extremely well. Well, I don't take on the weekends, when I'm rodeoing. It gives me just a little tightness in the stomach every once in a while, and headaches.

  • EVENTS: Are you in remission, or what does the doctor call the state you're in now?
  • BRUCE: Well, it's not in remission. My blood count and everything, 'cause I used to not eat right, to never sleep. I partied, went wild and crazy, and drank tremendously. I quit all that. I totally changed my lifestyle - one hundred percent.

  • EVENTS: You're positively healthy looking.
  • BRUCE: I feel great.

  • EVENTS: Strong.
  • BRUCE: Yeah, I am very strong. I don't work out on the farm as much as I used to. I got so much shit to do - with the horses and the cows, and there's always a fence that needs mending. Also, I always go home to my parents' at least one weekend a month to help them, 'cause they're in their seventies now and they don't have any more farm workers with them.

  • EVENTS: Your parents must be in paradise. They must consider every day a gift.
  • BRUCE: They do. And so do I. I wake up every morning and say, "Thank you, Jesus." Every day is a beautiful day. I don't care how hot it is or how wet it is - it's a beautiful day.

  • EVENTS: I believe it.
  • BRUCE: I was there in the hospital for three and a half weeks, and my roommate - I live with a woman who's been my friend for years and years and years...

  • EVENTS: She's gay? Straight?
  • BRUCE: She's straight, and just the wildest, wildest woman. And just as sweet and wonderful. She comes to all the rodeo circuits with us. And she and Glen lived in the hospital with me for three and a half weeks - every day, every night - never left my side. The night I thought I was going to die, they both lay in the bathroom with me, 'cause my head was stuck in the toilet, throwing up all night. and they did lie there with me all night - never left. They're my two best friends.

  • EVENTS: When you were first diagnosed as having AIDS, did you know, or was it a routine examination? How did that happen?
  • BRUCE: I knew.

  • EVENTS: You knew you had it?
  • BRUCE: I knew something was wrong. Since college, I'd always weighed about one-eighty, one eight-five. I lost a lot of weight - I got down to one hundred fifty-four pounds - and it was just falling off. And, you know, I eat like a pig. I was also getting extremely bad migraine headaches, and I'd never had those before. It got to the point where my eyes were throbbing and I could't drive home after work. I knew something was wrong. I couldn't breathe. I'd walk just a short flight of steps and get to the top, and I'd just be fighting for my breath. Sometimes I'd just have to sit down on the steps.

  • EVENTS: Did all of this come on suddenly?

  • BRUCE: Yeah, very quickly. I went to a doctor, and he told me, "Oh, nothing's wrong. It's all in your head," and I said, "Look, I know when I don't feel good, and I know there's something wrong, and I've been losing weight like this." So I had him test me.

  • EVENTS: You asked for the test?
  • BRUCE: Right. And it came back positive, and he kept telling me, "No it's not, it's not," so I said, "Well, I don't trust you." So I went to a second doctor, and pretty much the same thing happened - no, he told me, I had asthma. We do have asthma in our family, but I had never had it before. I said, "No, I know something is wrong, and you can't tell me I have asthma." That was just before the Oklahoma rodeo last year - the worst rodeo I've ever had, ever, 'cause I was so weak I just couldn't do anything.

    When I came back from Oklahoma, I called John, my ex-lover. I knew he'd been in the hospital with pneumonia, and I said, "Look, I know something's wrong, and I want to see the best doctor I can see in Austin" - and I knew John was going to him. He had an appointment with the doctor that morning, actually, and he said, "Come with me. Instead of me going in, you're going in to see him." 'Cause the doctor would not see new patients -he was just in over his head, the poor man. So I went in instead of John, and the doctor looked at me and he knew something was wrong. He sent me down to be x-rayed, then told me to go to the waiting room and sit for a few minutes. After about thirty minutes, he came in and said, "You definitely have pneumocystic pneumonia, and you need to go to the hospital right now - this second. They should have caught this weeks ago."

  • EVENTS: Were you frighted?
  • BRUCE: Extremely frightened.

  • EVENTS: Did John go with you?
  • BRUCE: He took me to the hospital. He called my parents and talked to my... He called my parents and told them...because I just couldn't tell it...I didn't want to hurt them.

  • EVENTS: But they already knew you were gay.
  • BRUCE: Oh yeah, they knew that, and AIDS had always been their fear. My daddy and I had talked about it, and I knew that that was their biggest fear - that I would come down with AIDS.

  • EVENTS: Did they come to see you in the hospital right away?
  • BRUCE: Oh yea. They got in the car and drove up.

  • EVENTS: You survived the night they expected you to die.
  • BRUCE: Yeah. That night, Glen and my roommate had to pull my nose out of the toilet 'cause I was so weak. And everything in my system that I think I'd ever eaten or drunk in my whole life came up that night. I'd never seen things like that.

  • EVENTS: God!
  • BRUCE: It was so horrible. And my mother and dad were both basket cases. I started feeling much better the next day, although I was still real weak and real sick. After about three and a half weeks, they finally told me to go home. And four days later, I went to the rodeo.

  • EVENTS: You'r kidding! How did you do it?
  • BRUCE: Oh, my parents - thank God they'd left town! Otherwise, I'd have never been able to go. But Glen went and my roommate went.

  • EVENTS: You went to perform or just to watch?
  • BRUCE: I went to perform, 'cause I was leading for high points for the year. That was the very last show of the year, and I was just enough points ahead that I was afraid I might lose it - and I didn't want to lose the belt buckle I'd worked so hard all year for.

  • EVENTS: Did you win it?
  • BRUCE: Uh huh. That's right.

  • EVENTS: It must be a very special belt buckle.
  • BRUCE: Yeah, it's the only one I ever wear.

  • EVENTS: When we publish this interview, do you want us to mention the AIDS thing or not?
  • BRUCE: It's fine .My parents know, my job knows.

  • EVENTS: You know, there are readers who have AIDS or who worry about it. Why don't you just give us a little idea of your health habits. Maybe some people with AIDS will benefit from reading about your regimen.

    BRUCE: Ok. I eat three meals a day. Every morning I fix something even if it's an instant breakfast. I can't have caffeine anymore; my doctor has taken me off coffee. That was probably the hardest for me 'cause I love coffee. Always a good lunch with vegetables. I'm very careful with what I eat and keep away from the junk foods and the grease. Every night my roommate fixes a very good meal with vegetable and she tries to put as many calories into it as she can to get my weight up.

  • EVENTS: What's your weight now?
  • BRUCE: One hundred seventy-six. But my doctor wants ten more pounds on me. I drink three milkshakes a day and I squeeze one in before going to bed just for the calorie intake. I go to bed very early - nine, nine-thirty, ten.

  • EVENTS: And you get plenty of exercise.
  • BRUCE: Lots of exercise.

  • EVENTS: Sounds like simply a very healthy diet for anybody, anywhere.
  • BRUCE: It's mostly common sense.

  • EVENTS: What about Pantamadine?
  • BRUCE: Yes, I do that once a month, in addition to the AZT.

  • EVENTS: What does your doctor think accounts for your getting better.
  • BRUCE: My attitude. 'Cause it's been so positive, and I'm not going to lose, I'm going to fight. This past Easter I got sick and it was all in my head that time. I had been dating someone and he screwed me over royally, really hurt me very bad and I sort of withdrew back into a shell again and sort of gave up. I want a lover very badly and I...I miss having someone to hold, someone to do things with, you know. I have my roommate and Glen, which is wonderful, but I miss...

  • EVENTS: That special...
  • BRUCE: Yeah. I miss that. It's very hard for me to find somebody 'cause I live out in the country, and it is difficult.

  • EVENTS: How does your doctor feel about you having a lover?
  • BRUCE: He doesn't like it. He's afraid of me getting hurt again,and regressing again like I did this past time. I was so unhappy I got a 104 temperature again for a couple of days. I just withdrew into my bedroom, and like I just didn't want to live. I thought, you know, I give up. Why can't I find somebody and be happy?

  • EVENTS: How did you pull out of that?
  • BRUCE: Glen and my roommate. They kept me in cool water in the bathtub and kept my temperature coming down, and they sat on the phone with the doctor constantly. Finally, after that third day it broke and I was fine.

  • EVENTS: So it's not sex your doctor's afraid of.
  • BRUCE: No. It's just the emotional - should I get hurt again, and change my attitude.

  • EVENTS: And of course you mention that you have it when you do meet someone. You don't hide it from anyone?
  • BRUCE: No, and that's a pain. That's the reason I don't go out. It's very difficult now to meet somebody attractive. Who wants to go up to some hot gay and say, "Hey, you want to go home with me - I have AIDS." It's very tough.

  • EVENTS: We appreciate this, because this is going to be so encouraging, especially when they see photographs of you. It sounds as if you accepted the fact that you had AIDS, but didn't accept the fact you had to die.
  • BRUCE: I don't sit around saying, "I have AIDS. I'm not feeling well at this time...I have this annoyance." Let's get this annoyance straightened out, and whatever comes next, I'll treat that as it needs to be treated. My parents, my brothers and my sisters -they've all been very supportive.

  • EVENTS: You have a very loving family.
  • BRUCE: Oh yeah. Extremely. Very, very close. My immediate family only has four other kids, but we come from an extremely big family, and everyone is close by. My mother had six sisters, and they all had lots of kids. My aunts all came to the hospital, and they've all been very encouraging. When I got home, they had a family reunion; they all know, and they all came and hugged and kissed. They encouraged me: "Don't give up...Keep fighting."

  • EVENTS: You've talked to your father. Have you ever actually talked about your gayness to anybody else in your family?
  • BRUCE: My sisters - they knew. My mom - we've never talked about it. I've talked to my sisters, and they've talked to her about it. I'm sure they care; they'd like to see something else for me, but they accept me and they all really love me. And that's what they told me in the hospital: "Don't be ashamed...You have nothing to be ashamed of...You've been a good child...You went to school...You never did anything that we're not proud of."

  • EVENTS: That's great. You've been very lucky with your family, that's for sure.
  • BRUCE: Oh, I've been very lucky.
  • Magizines
    A transcript of the following article is available below.
    Magizines
    Magizines
    Magizines
    Magizines
    Transcript of the above article

    What Price Gay Rodeo?

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    A History Of The IGRA

    By Lou Thomas

    As the IGRA heads into it's 1989 season, it would be hard for a spectator seated in the arena at Austin or Phoenix or Denver to imagine the long and colorful road down which gay rodeo has traversed. Even today, mention of a gay rodeo might well elicit a chuckle or a downright belly laugh from the listener. It hasn't been easy getting from there to here., believe it!

    1975: Most of us are aware of the "Imperial Court System," wherein an Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince and Crown Princess are elected by the gay community to spearhead fundraising efforts for various charitable causes. In 1975, in Reno, Nevada an intrepid and energetic man named Phil Ragsdale, Emperor that year, chose as his cause the Muscular Dystrophy Association and as his means - of all things - a gay rodeo!

    And that was just the beginning of his troubles as the questions began to mount: where to stage the Reno Gay Rodeo? Where to find the livestock? Phil was told by the operators of the Washoe County Fairgrounds that the first available date was October 2, 1976 and accepted immediately. Next he began contacting local farmers and ranchers in the area to obtain livestock. As soon as the locals heard that the Reno gay community would be sponsoring the event, there was hemming and hawing and livestock suddenly became very unavailable. (One wonders if they feared the cattle might become gay by association!)

    And suddenly it was Friday, October 1, the day before the rodeo, and still no livestock. In desperation, Phil drove to Fallon, some sixty miles from Reno, and bought some livestock from a rancher there, then secured a truck to deliver it the following morning. The livestock which was delivered on Saturday morning consisted of fine "wild" range cows, ten "wild" range calves, one pig an done Shetland pony. The numerous gay organizations who were to run the different concessions arrived, along with many clowns. As it was put in the program for the 1982 National Reno Gay Rodeo:

    "With only one large arena, 'wild ' cows and calves running loose, no holding pens, no chutes, IT WAS RODEO TIME! There were three categories: 1) Kind of the Cowboys (Male), 2) Queen of the Cowgirls (Female), and 3) Ms. Dusty Spurs (Drag).

    "Even though the attendance of our First Reno Gay Rodeo was small, less than 125, through word of mouth and the great efforts of our own Phil Ragsdale, Emperor I, our rodeo has progressed to what it is today. With the combined efforts of a small group of people, the event was bright, colorful and full of fun"

    1977-1980: National Reno Gay Rodeo flourished and Phil Ragsdale's new fundraiser, the Mr., Ms. an Miss National Reno Gay Rodeo Competition, began in 1977, growing each year with larger and larger donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

    1981: An energetic representation from Texas showed up in Reno to represent their state. Under the guidance of Terry Clark and Walter Strickland, the Mr., Ms. and Miss contestants raised over $30,000 for the Texas MDA. The rodeo theme song was "Stand By Your Man" and performers included Ed Bruce W and Rose Maddox W and San Francisco dance groups The Barbary Coast Cloggers and The Foggy City Squares.

    During the festivities, Miss Texas bumped into Wayne Jakino and, upon learning he was from Denver, chided him for a lack of representation from that state. Jakino assured her that Colorado would be well represented the following year. Sure enough, a month later Jakino, Ron Jesser and seven other men met to form The Colorado Gay Rodeo Association.

    1982: When Colorado returned to the 1982 National Reno Gay Rodeo they numbered over 400 strong, including a mounted drill team, The Mile High Squares, The Denver County Cloggers's, Mr., Ms. and Miss candidates and forty-three rodeo contestants (two-thirds of the contestants that year). Colorado's contestants were very demanding and rallied support from other states to push for more uniform rules and a better quality rodeo.

    Attendance in the grandstands reached over 10,000 and estimates of the gays who came only to party in the bars and casinos reached 40,000. Joan Rivers W was featured as Grand Marshal and performers included Sharon McKnight, Rose Maddox, The Texas Mustang Band and The Western Electric Band.

    History has not recorded the exact reason, but Texas left Reno greatly disenchanted and stated that they would not return

    .

    1983: Colorado had returned from Reno in 1982 fired up with the feeling that a single rodeo each year just wasn't enough to satisfy true rodeo fans and contestants. The CGRA went to work! Jakino, John King and others went to Huston, moving upstate through San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, seeking support for the formation of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) and, more specifically, a rodeo. They elicited a promise of support if Colorado would lead the way with a rodeo of its own. The CGRA, now 250 strong, voted to hold its first rodeo in June, dubbing it the Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo.

    That was the easy part. Finding a site to hold the event was the problem. One by one, the appropriate site managements were approached: Arapaho, The Denver Complex, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, the Bolder Valley Pow Wow Grounds, the Adams County Fairgrounds, the Deertrail Rodeo Association's Jolly Ranch - and then, finally, someone mentioned Coal Creek, the new rodeo grounds in Aurora. Jakino and the board rushed out to inspect - no barns and not enough seating but the equipment was new and there was plenty of parking. Gay was ok by Aurora!

    And so it was that on June 3, 1983, Denver became the second city in the U.S. to host a gay rodeo. Supporters and contestants flocked from Texas and California to Arora, only to have a torrential rain dumped on them that weekend. But the games went on! They had been through too much to let a little water stop them!

    And that weekend a new gay phenomenon came into its own. The entertainment consisted of square dancers and cloggers only, great gay talented groups finding a way to tell their community that "We are what we are and we're damned proud of it!"

    Later that month, Jakino and King again visited Huston to talk with Terry Clark, Walt Strickland and various other Texas cowboys and the result was the creation of the TGRA and the scheduling of the first Texas Gay Rodeo in 1984.

    In August, Colorado returned in force to the Eight National Gay Rodeo. The largest number of dance groups ever assembled at a rodeo were there that year. Over fourteen countries totalling more than 12,00 spectators jammed the grandstands.

    And Al Bell, from Long Beach, California, spent hours with John King discussing the possibility of forming a gay rodeo association in California. Growth was in the wind!

    This year saw the formation of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association in California (GSGRA). Sadly, it also saw the Ninth (and final) National Reno Gay Rodeo. The rodeo's books were seized by the Federal Government and the Wasoe County Fairgrounds officials declined use of their facility for the future. Nevertheless, Phil Ragsdale had introduced gay rodeo to America, and Colorado, Texas and California were determined to keep the sport alive and well.

    In November,gay rodeo was firmly established in Texas with the staging of the First Annual Texas Gay Rodeo a few miles out of Huston. Eight contestants and several dance groups participated in the successful festivities.

    In December, The Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (aGRA) leaped to life in Phoenix with over forty members.

    Jakino became convinced that the ever-growing rodeo family would work more cohesively under an umbrella organization and, to this end, he contacted leaders in each of the three other states to sound them out. All agreed to meet in Phoenix and Al Bell (GSGRA), Terry Clark (TGRA) John King (AGRA) heard a proposal by Jakino to form the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). The proposal was accepted and a March date listed for formation.

    May and June that year saw the presentation of "Nine Days of A Mile-High High," combining the Second International Gay Square Dance Association and Third Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo, boasting 580 dancers and 100 contestants, respectively.

    In July, Les krambeal and Walt Rupprecht sought help from Jakino and Terry Clark to form the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association (OGRA). Later, in September, the First Convention of IGRA was held in Denver with the four founding states in attendance. Oklahoma was formally seated as the fifth member.

    Goals were established with the key purpose being the fostering of National and International Amature Competition and related arts ad crafts, and the development of amateur athletes and activities for such competition. Each of the five states wished to produce a rodeo and an official schedule was selected for the first IGRA circuit with the rodeo year set as November 1 to October 31.

    1986: Arizona's first and highly successful gay rodeo took place in January. After undergoing the by-now familiar hunt for a proper site, they were able to obtain the El Lienzo Charro Rodeo Grounds in Phoenix.

    In August, Oklahoma, after a false start occasioned by a conflict in dates with a Jerry Falwell convention (!) went on to produce its first slam-bang rodeo, ending the first circuit year on a highly successful note.

    1986 also saw the formal seating of three more gay rodeo associations at the Second Annual IGRA Convention in Denver: Kansas (KGRA), Missouri (MGRA) and New Mexico (NMGRA). The right to hold the first IGRA Finals was awarded to California, to be held in Hayward.

    The First Circuit Year awards were made by total point accumulation from each of the five rodeos with buckles to bets in each of the thirteen events and All-Around Champion Cowboy title going to Lee Kettleson (now residing in California) and All-Around Champion Cowgirl to Laura Lee of Texas. In addition, a full set of bylaws was established for the association in order to cope with its tremendous growth. IGRA's second president, Les Krambeal, took the oath of office at the conclusion of the convention.

    Another first was the Mr., Ms. and Miss IGRA Competition for the royalty titles to represent IGRA for the 1987 rodeo year. The title winners were Larry Brandon (OGRA), Jeanie Nelson (CGRA) and Fritz Capone (KGRA), respectively.

    1987: The feature that made itself painfully felt during this year was the glut of contestants. In Denver, for instance, the 180 contestants entered an average of seven events each, for a total of 1,260 events. Even if officials could push one event per minute through the arena that would total twenty-one straight hours of rodeo. IGRA officials quickly recognized the problem and resolved to address it at the next convention.

    Another important event that year occurred when Les Krambeal moved to Reno and attempted to form the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association. This was met with some resistance but was finally pushed through and the Silver State Gay Rodeo Association (SSGRA) was finally seated in the IGRA.

    The third IGRA convention in July in Albuquerque saw the bid for the 1988 finals awarded to Reno. And, to alleviate the growing pains the association was experiencing, Wayne Jakino proposed splitting the association into two divisions. Division I would consist of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, while Division II would consist of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Effectively, each division would consist of three rodeos and place half of the contestants in each division, thus reducing each rodeo's number of hours in the arena by half and allowing space for new contestants. As new states joined the association, a third division could be added when needed.

    1988: Six rodeos, three to each division was planned, were carried off with great success. At the Fourth Annual IGRA Convention in July, held in Fort Worth, Texas, Oregon and Wyoming were officially seated as the tenth and eleventh states, respectively. Gerald Ford (TGRA) was elected the third president of the IGRA.

    It is now common knowledge that the finals to be held in Reno were thwarted by the hand of homophobia. Originally scheduled to be held at Lawler Events Center in Reno, the rodeo's contract with the Center was cancelled and court action to force the Center to perform failed.

    A contract with a private facility in Fallon (sixty miles east of Reno) found itself face to face with an injunction to stop the rodeo from being held, two days before the event. Two days in court plus a trip to the Nevada Supreme Court failed to overcome the adversity. The 100 or so contestants and 600 spectators found themselves with only the evening parties.

    IGRA officials quickly referred to the bylaw as and standing rules if order to award buckles in all events to the top point earner in both Division I and Division II. The all around tittles were also presented by division with Division I All-Around titles going to Greg Olson (AGRA) and Cindy McCormick (GSGRA) and Division II All-Around titles going to Bill Sanders (TGRA) and Lee Free (OGRA). Jerry Hubbard (GSGRA), Connie Clovis (KGRA) and Magnolia Sprits (Buddy Sojourner) (CGRA) won the royalty titles of Mr., Ms. and Miss, respectively.

    Wayne Jakino, who served as IGRA's Membership Chairman in 1988, informs us that additional states in the process of forming associations are Idaho, Louis anna and Nebraska. Utah will be formally seated during the next convention. The following states are expressing interest: Montana, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

    Inquires for information concerning membership or activities of the IGRA may be directed to Mr. Gerald Ford, in Fort Worth. (address not included in this transcript sine it is out of date)

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    Night Life:

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Charlie's Denver

    By John Toss

    A first-timer at a gay rodeo will find that the parties surrounding the event may well be his greatest adventure. In addition to the festivities planned by each local rodeo organization, the bars all gear up with special parties for the hundreds of visitors and contestants. Whatever your choice, leather Levi disco - piano bar - country/western dance bar, all will be running full tilt and the tone is total party.

    In each of the rodeo cities on the circuit there is a key country western bar which seems to be home base for the local rodeo association. For the 1989 rodeo circuit the first stop in November is Austin, Texas, and the country dance bars are Snuffy's Saloon and Nexus/Petticoat Junction. January will put you in Phoenix, Arizona rubbing elbows with the cowboys in Charlie's during the Road Runner Regional Rodeo. Moving a little further west in April for the Golden State Gay Rodeo in the Los Angeles area don't miss Floyd's in Long Beach and the Rawhide in Hollywood/The Valley. (Note - Sometime in September you will find one more rodeo in California which could be either in Hayward or San Diego.) On Memorial Day Weekend in May you will find the Rodeo people at The Bunkhouse in Oklahoma City whooping it up during The Great Plains Regional Rodeo.

    Right around the fourth of July you'll want to take a little vacation in Denver, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo and check out our featured bar, Charlie's, Denver. Presently located near the Airport at 900 E. Colfax, Charlie's will soon celebrate its eighth anniversary, making it one of the oldest country/western dance bars in America. Charlie's first opened its doors in 1981 under the guidance of John King. John said he named the bar after his lover because Charlie's sounded a heck of a lot friendlier than John's. John's favorite term is "The Charlie's Concept" and the bar reeks of that concept. A place to meet friends, both old and new, dance a lot, visit, relax and feel like you just arrived at home even though it may be your first time through the door. A place involved in its community and dedicated to that community's well-being. And above all providing friendly service.

    In the early days of Charlie's, when the bar was a lot quieter and the community was just beginning to learn what "country" was all about, John had the brilliant idea of bringing a real, live horse into the bar to demonstrate to the clientele the seriousness of his intent to create a real western bar. Up went a small corral right under the blue Charlie's sign and sure enough a horse appropriately named "Lady" made her debut in an evening of fun and frolic.

    On another occasion, Charlie's gave away a horse, but not without a little trauma attached. This horse was much younger and not the least bit thrilled with the bar. Once he had been unloaded he produced a two-hour temper tantrum which kept everyone hopping and scrambling for cover until he was finally reloaded in the trailer.

    The real heart and soul of Charlie's are the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, The Denver Country Cloggers and The Mile High Squares, all of whom meet regularly at the club. Presently you can walk into Charlie's and find either square dancing, clogging or country two-step and line dance lessons six nights a week and the meeting rooms in use three or four nights a week. One night a month, the entire dance floor is filled with the general membership meeting of the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association. And, to cap it all off, every night after nine PM it's country dancing and partying with friends until closing. The 4500 square foot building has every inch working daily and when rodeo time rolls around a twenty-five by one-hundred foot tent is added to accommodate the crowds. The tent will remind you of the first saloons in the old mining camps complete with sawdust floors and a cook shack loaded with good grub.

    The walls of Charlie's are filled with the history of the gay rodeo movement and tidbits of other organizations in Denver as well as items the staff collects to substantiate their tea (gossip) on someone. (A recent item in the trophy case was one staff member's underwear, inadvertently misplaced during a "Charlie's on the road" trip to Boise, Idaho.)

    Charlie's heavy involvement in rodeo might be traced back to its management. John King moved to Arizona four years ago and opened Charlie's Phoenix, started the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association and still serves as the Trustee of the International Gay Rodeo for the state of Arizona. His partner, Wayne Jakino, manages Charlie's Denver, and was the founding president of both the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association and the International Gay Rodeo Association and continues to work actively on both levels. Both men believe that gay rodeo and its related activities are an extremely healthy contribution to gay society.

    The twenty-plus members of the staff, a unique family in their own right, meet twice a week to discuss problems, invent new party themes, and work on their projects to benefit the community and to decorate the bar for the weekly party. The family feeling of the bar can be credited to these men who more often than not can be found on the customer side of the bar on their nights off dancing and visiting with everyone.

    A contest held the first Friday each month, to find the man of the month for the Charlie's poster, has gained a lot of attention with twenty to twenty-five contestants each month. The men who win the contest then promote community benefits and raised $3,000.00 in 1988 for the AIDS Project.

    Charlie's provides a healthy, hassle-free environment for people to gather together to relax and forget the problems of the day. An unfulfilled goal for the bar is moving to a larger building where they would be able to expand their support of the community.

    The staff and management of Charlie's extend their invitation to "Come on in and let us make you at home!

    (second photo is of Russell Forest)

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    Wrangler, Interview with Glen Hostetler

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    (Glen Hostetler has a pair of eyes that fairly crackle with mischief, but behind the mischief a strength of purpose is very much in evidence. Glen loves life but he is not about to take any crap from anybody. and if you're his friend, count yourself lucky. The Editor)

    • EVENTS: Are you a Texas boy, Glen?
    • GLEN: Austin, Texas. I was born in Indiana, outside of South Bend, out in the middle of the country. There is really no town around there.
    • EVENTS: Where do you live now?
    • GLEN: I moved to Austin six years ago. I lived in Oregon for five years. I'm just trying to move around.
    • EVENTS: Are you happy now in Texas?
    • GLEN: I love it.
    • EVENTS: Tell us about your work.
    • GLEN: I'm a teacher. I teach the multi-handicapped deaf. In addition to being deaf, they have emotional disturbances and behavior problems.
    • EVENTS: You teach regular school or . . . ?
    • GLEN: I teach high-school-age kids. We teach life skills, survival skills, how to use the public transportation system. We do some work-shop-type work training, where they go and punch a clock. I have two kids who work off-campus jobs one day a week during the school year. It's sort of a work-training type of thing. That's what we focus on. We throw some academics in - enough for survival: reading and things like that.
    • EVENTS: How do you manage to get in your rodeo practice?
    • GLEN: After work, during the evenings. I don't practice every night. I go out to my friend Bruce's place, where I keep my horse. I ride there a lot, and we show a lot during the weekends. We show about two weekends a month.
    • EVENTS: How did you get started in rodeo?
    • GLEN: Well, I grew up with horses, and I showed when I was a kid.
    • EVENTS: In Indiana?
    • GLEN: Yes. I grew up on a farm, and I've always been around it.
    • EVENTS: You learned to ride horses very young?
    • GLEN: Yeah. I had my first pony when I was three.
    • EVENTS: How big was the farm you grew up on?
    • GLEN: Three hundred acres.
    • EVENTS: A lot of cattle?
    • GLEN: We had dairy cattle.
    • EVENTS: Did you have a lot of experience in the straight rodeos before you got involved in the gay ones?
    • GLEN: Not so much straight rodeos as straight horse shows.
    • EVENTS: What do you do in a horse show?
    • GLEN: I do almost all the events. It depends on what horse you have. Each horse does different events.
    • EVENTS: Your horse? What kind is it?
    • GLEN: It's an Appaloosa. He's not here. He stayed home. I got him last year, and he's not ready for this. It would be a lot of expense to haul him all this way and not win any money, so ...
    • EVENTS: Why did you pick an Appaloosa?
    • GLEN: I picked him because of the price. He's a very good looking horse, and a friend of mine was looking to get rid of him, and so I bought him. He's a halter horse -he's a real good halter horse. Better than an event horse.
    • EVENTS: What's a halter horse?
    • GLEN: A halter horse is where you lead them into the arena and you show, and they're judged by their bodies, their shapes, the way they're built.
    • EVENTS: Your first gay rodeo was when?
    • GLEN: I think eighty-four or eighty-five. I'm not sure now.
    • EVENTS: Was it here in Denver?
    • GLEN: I attended my first one here in Denver, and I competed in the next one, which was in Houston.
    • EVENTS: You did all horse events?
    • GLEN: I did horse events and rough stuff.
    • EVENTS: The rough stuff- that's broncos and bulls?
    • GLEN: Broncos, bulls and cows.
    • EVENTS: The camp events are what?
    • GLEN: Goat decorating, steer decorating and wild drag race. They used to have an event called wild cow milking. It was just wild.
    • EVENTS: What is wild cow milking?
    • GLEN: There are three on a team. There has to be a woman, someone in drag, and a man. You have the cow come out of the chute, and someone has to run up and get a squirt of milk out of it. Too many people got hurt, so they stopped that. That was my favorite event.
    • EVENTS: How are you doing at this rodeo?
    • GLEN: Okay. I'm doing all right.
    • EVENTS: Do you expect to win any buckles?
    • GLEN: We still have today's go round. I think, I'm pretty sure, two buckles so far.
    • EVENTS: And how are you and Bruce doing together in this one?
    • GLEN: The things we team on, we placed second in the first one, and we have another one today. So we'll see how we do on that one.
    • EVENTS: Are you very involved in gay politics?
    • GLEN: Well, in Texas, when we first started out, it was real difficult. We had a lot of doors shut on us.
    • EVENTS: When you say "we," do you mean the gay rodeo?
    • GLEN: The Gay Rodeo Association. I'm the president of the Austin chapter. We have five local chapters. The state is so big, we're five or six hours away from each other. Each city puts in a bid for the rodeo, and then the state board decides where the rodeo goes. Austin tried to get it a couple of years ago. Arenas wouldn't talk to us.
    • EVENTS: 'Cause you're gay.
    • GLEN: 'Cause we're a gay organization. When we first started, stock contractors were not real friendly. They were scared that if they put on a gay rodeo, the straight rodeo associations would find out about it and wouldn't give them any business. The first couple of years, they came in with a little bit of an attitude problem. It's come around. The economy in Texas is in real trouble. Now the money talks a little bit. This is a big rodeo. Even by the straight standard, it's a very big rodeo with a lot of animals and a lot of contestants, and that's money for the contractors. That's money for the hotels. It's making a big difference.
    • EVENTS: How many cities in Texas are there where there's a chapter?
    • GLEN: Five. San Antonio chapter. We have a West Texas chapter which is in San Angelo and Odessa, in that area. That's real cowboy country, is West Texas. Interestingly enough, we don't have that many men compete from West Texas. We have a slew of women that compete from West Texas. If you notice when they start announcing the women contestants.
    • EVENTS: I keep hearing San Angelo.
    • GLEN: San Angelo, Odessa, half the women contestants in the rodeo are from West Texas. They mop up. They're good.
    • EVENTS: Are they mostly gay?
    • GLEN: All the women here are gay.
    • EVENTS: Are all the men here gay?
    • GLEN: Yes.
    • EVENTS: Is that a restriction by the way?
    • GLEN: No, no. There is nothing in our rules that discriminates.
    • EVENTS: Do you ever have straights competing?
    • GLEN: We've had straights compete before. We had a straight bull rider compete once. We had a straight woman from the PRCA Rodeo Circuit who came and competed. They had friends who were gay friends and were in the organization and competed. Prize money at these rodeos is good. Compared to a local, small, straight rodeo, our prize money is much bigger. We're talking big bucks. If you have a real good weekend, you can win two thousand dollars in prize money total. That's attractive to a lot of these straight rodeo people. The only restriction we have is that to win prize money you have to be a member in good standing of one of the state organizations. You don't have to be gay to be a member of the organization. Anyone can come off the street to compete here today that wants to. Someone can drive down the highway and drive in and compete. They will not win money, but they can compete. We make no discrimination. There are straight members of the Rodeo Association in Texas. We have three women who don't compete but they think it's a good cause, and they're members of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association.
    • EVENTS: Do you have any straight male members?
    • GLEN: I don't think so. I'm not really sure.
    • EVENTS: Could a straight person who is not a member win a belt buckle?
    • GLEN: They can win buckles and ribbons but no money.
    • EVENTS: Do you find rodeos sexual at all? Sexually appealing? Is it a good make-out time? Is it sexually charged with all the men being here?
    • GLEN: Not for me. When I'm here, it's rodeo; that's all I can think of. I can't think of picking someone up. I got my mind on this rodeo. After the last event, after the last day, things change. That's my night to let loose.
    • EVENTS: From what you have observed, is that a general feeling, or is that just your way of doing things?
    • GLEN: The serious contestants are real serious about the rodeo, and that's what they think about until after the end of the rodeo and the awards are done.
    • EVENTS: What events are you going to be doing this afternoon?
    • GLEN: I have to do pole racing, flag racing, steer decorating, goat decorating and bull riding.
    • EVENTS: You have a busy afternoon. How long do you expect to continue in the rodeo?
    • GLEN: Twenty years.
    • EVENTS: Serious?
    • GLEN: Serious.
    • EVENTS: There's no age limitation?
    • GLEN: There is no age limitation. I won't ride bulls many more years. I'm getting a little old now for bulls.
    • EVENTS: How old are you, now?
    • GLEN: Thirty-two. I won't do a lot of rough stuff, but you could do horse events forever.
    • EVENTS: You love it enough to continue?
    • GLEN: It's a thrill; it's just such a rush if you ride all the time. We have a woman, Inez, who is not here today, who's sixty-seven.
    • EVENTS: She rides horse events?
    • GLEN: Yes. If you ride constantly and you keep riding, then there's no age limit to it.
    • EVENTS: Do you ever invite any of your students to the rodeo?
    • GLEN: No . .
    • EVENTS: Totally separate?
    • GLEN: Separate.
    • EVENTS: Where you work, do. they know you're gay?
    • GLEN: No.
    • EVENTS: Would there be a problem if they did?
    • GLEN: Yes. It's not real smart for teachers to be out.
    • EVENTS: What about your family? Do they know about you?
    • GLEN: No.
    • EVENTS: You've never come out to your family?
    • GLEN: I've come out to my sisters and my cousins and an aunt and uncle, but never my parents.
    • EVENTS: Why is that? They wouldn't approve, or it would be hard on them, or ... ?
    • GLEN: It would be difficult. I discussed it with my aunt, who was real close with my mother, and she said, "Don't." She advised me not to.
    • EVENTS: Is it likely that your parents know?
    • GLEN: Oh yes. Parents know things. It's something you just don't discuss. My grandpa came the closest to asking me. We were really close. He died last summer. He was eighty-eight. We grew up next door to grandpa and I was his favorite grandson. We did everything together. We went to breakfast one time, when I was living out in Oregon. I came home and grandpa and I always talked about the day's work, and we'd always go out for coffee. He just asked me real quietly - he looked at his eggs and he said, "Are you dating anyone?" And he'd never asked me anything like that. I could tell by the way he asked, that that's what it was. I said 'Nope.' He just went back to eating his eggs and that was it. That was the closest that he had ever come to asking me something like that.
    • EVENTS: Why does your aunt think your parents couldn't handle it?
    • GLEN: They are very, very religious.
    • EVENTS: Some sort of fundamentalism or Catholic?
    • GLEN: Mennonite. It would be very difficult for my mother. My mother especially.
    • EVENTS: Are you close to your parents?
    • GLEN: Yeah. My family has always been real important. I come from a real large, extended family. Family has always been drilled into me. It's very important. No matter what happens, you stay tight. My dad and all his brothers all lived within a mile of my grandparents. Maybe that's just the way it's done.
    • EVENTS: Do they have any problem with your living so far away?
    • GLEN: Oh yes . .. Oh yes. I get grief from cousins, in-laws. Our family farm has been in the family for seven generations, since 1838. I'm the first-born. I'm supposed to be there.
    • EVENTS: To take over the farm?
    • GLEN: Yeah.
    • EVENTS: How did you explain moving away?
    • GLEN: I just said that it wasn't for me and that I couldn't deal with living in that tight environment. It's too tight. It's too "fish bowl."
    • EVENTS: Everyone knows everything about everybody.
    • GLEN: And it's not considered rude to ask.
    • EVENTS: Exactly.
    • GLEN: Grandma lived down the road and sat on her front porch. If there was a green car in front of the house and she didn't recognize it, she'd call and ask who they were. One time I had a great-aunt visiting. I was in college and I took a woman I was seeing home for the weekend. Well my mother started in with third-degree questions which, I thought, were extremely personal. When the women was out of the room, I confronted my mother and said, 'Back off." And my great-aunt stood up and said, "Well, if it were my son, I would be asking even more questions." That is considered standard. Nothing is sacred there.
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    White Knight

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Interview with Sgt. Earl Newsom, Dallas Police Force

    (He is known to Dallas gays as "The Lone Ranger of Oak Lawn" and the man most responsible for narrowing the gap between the Dallas gay community and the police force. Forty-five-year-old police sergeant Earl Newsom has brought a measure of mutual respect to cops and gays alike, and if the situation is not as perfect as he would like, it is certainly well on the way and infinitely better than it was. Newsom is the self-imposed acknowledged liaison between the Dallas police department and the gay community. He has helped raise funds for AIDS and has re-written the course on the police academy's gay cultural awareness training, including a section on AIDS and the history of gays in Dallas. Testifying to the love and respect felt for the man by the gay community, he was chosen in 1987 as the Grand Marshal for both the Dallas Freedom Day Parade and the Texas Gay Rodeo. We learned about this remarkable man while attending the Austin rodeo this year and immediately made arrangements for the following interview. The Editor)

  • EVENTS: We heard some very nice things about you at the Austin rodeo and it made you of verry great interest to us. You were Grand Marshal of the Texas Gay Rodeo, right?
  • NEWSOM: Yes, in 1987.
  • EVENTS: How did that come about?
  • NEWSOM: Well, the rodeo rents our coliseum here in Dallas on the state fairgrounds and requirements for using it is you have to have X number of police officers to work security. I had worked the Texas Gay Rodeo the year before and a couple of times before that. Because of my work in the gay community, I usually get tbe calls to supply whatever officers are needed to cover gay events. I understand that in 1987 the vote for me as Grand Marshal was unanimous.
  • EVENTS: That's fantastic.
  • NEWSOM: I was real, real proud. And very excited. It wasn't the first gay evnt I'd been involved in as a participant. I was also the Grand Marshal of the Freedom Parade here in Dallas in 1987. The Annual Gay Pride Parade.
  • EVENTS: You are obviously very well accepted by the gay community. Tell us how this all came about from day one.
  • NEWSOM: Well, it's a strange situation. I've been with the police department for twenty-one years this January 1989 and in that time I've worked a lot of different jobs. I've been a supervisor for the last thirteen years. For five years I worked in our physical evidence department as a supervisor of the crime scene workers. When one of the sergeants from the Central Division requested a transfer, he told me what an easy job he thought I had. I immediately told him he could have it, and we traded. Now, our Central Division is divided into various sectors and a sergeant is responsible for a single sector. The sector that this sergeant had was called the 140 Sector, named for the college radio station. It covered Greenville Avenue, the bars and party area, mixed in with older homes which are rented but are very expensive if you tried to purchase one - an area that will be revitalized in the near future. Well, I showed up for work the first day and reported to my lieutenant, a wonderful lady named Pat Sanchez. Pat told me that she knew I could work the 140 Sector but would I mind the 120? I told her I didn't mind, that I was so happy to get back to patrol that I'd have swept floors. The 120 area happened to be around Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, a major gay entertainment area heavily populated with gays, gay-owned bars and businesses. I didn't mind at all because a person's sexual preference or orientation had never been anything to worry about. So I ended up with that area of town. This was just prior to the Republican Convention here in July 1984. So about my second week out on the streets supervising the officers that worked there, my captain called me in and told me he wanted me to go up on Sunday when the lieutenant was off and talk with Terry Tebedo. Terry was on the board of the Dallas Gay Alliance and was in charge of the rally they were having in the park. Well we didn't have any officers scheduled to work the rally per se, so I went up to the Dallas Gay Alliance office and met Mr. Bill Nelson, for several years the President of the Gay Alliance. Terry, who happened to be his lover, was down at the park setting up sound equipment, so I went down and met him. I told them all the same thing: "You have a perfect right to hold your rally in the parks when you have the correct permits. And I'm going to come to the rally. I don't have any officers scheduled to work it but I'm going to come there so I can be there just in case anyone should attempt to disrupt the rally, and because of the convention being in town." There were all sorts of ACLU observers around. Well, I got to hear Bill make a speech and several other people make speeches, and I met several of the gay leaders that day and that was the beginning of my relationship with the Gay Alliance. So from that time on, anytime anyone had a problem in the gay community - and we did have a lot of crime there - they would call me. At that time my captain worked as a liaison with the gay community. Even before he retired from the department those duties fell to me. So I was pretty much accepted as a liaison with the gay community.
  • EVENTS: Do you get any flack from your fellow officers?
  • NEWSOM: Lots of it. The majority of it is in fun. It is not unusual for me to be introduced to someone as the Queer Sergeant. Of course they are doing it as a play on words. It don't mean anything. Police officers have weird senses of humor in case you don't know any. There have been a few remarks in seriousness. Once I was asked why I ever accepted the position of Grand Marshal of the Freedom Parade.
  • EVENTS: What did you answer?
  • NEWSOM: It's an honor, like any other. If the NAACP had chosen me to be the Grand Marshal on Martin Luther King Day. that too, would have been a great honor.
  • EVENTS: Have you had any malicious problem with the department trying to undermine you or manipulate you?
  • NEWSOM: No. Not a single problem.
  • EVENTS: Are you married?
  • NEWSOM: My usual answer to that is frequently. Now I'm not.
  • EVENTS: Do you have a family?
  • NEWSOM: I have three ex wives. (Laughs) The popular joke around here is I'm looking for my fourth ex wife. I have one son; he's eighteen years old.
  • EVENTS: How does he feel about what you do?
  • NEWSOM: Basically neutral.
  • EVENTS: He doesn't get any peer pressure because you are so well known at this point?
  • NEWSOM: I am really well known because the Dallas Herald did an article on me over a year ago which was kind of amusing in a way. They did a big spread in their Sunday paper on me and my work in the gay community.
  • EVENTS: Was it a positive piece?
  • NEWSOM: Very positive. I really enjoy working in the gay community and doing police work around gays.
  • EVENTS: Are they cooperative?
  • NEWSOM: Very cooperative. For a long time they were not. Wait - let me put it this way - for a long time there had been bad feelings between gays and the police department. Mostly because of the policy of the Dallas Police Department of not hiring gays. That caused bad feelings and many officers were prejudiced against gays.
  • EVENTS: There are a lot of foolish people who feel that way.
  • NEWSOM: I went to the Gay Alliance Board one day. I was married at the time. I told them I had a twelve-year-old stepson. "I'm big enough and mean enough to make that boy eat spinach every day of his life, but I'm not big enough to make him like spinach. I've got ten officers that work the streets out here and I'm big enough and mean enough to see they give you the kind of police service that you are entitled to. I'm not big enough to make them like it!" Now it turns out that most of my officers have made very good friends in the gay community. Now that they have been exposed, they realize they are dealing with nice people. I always found it very good to meet people one on one. You can hate all blacks but meet one and you will find out they are the same as you are. I had a non-gay friend riding with me in my squad car one night. We had been out for six or more hours. He finally said, "You know, Earl, they are the same as us, aren't they?"
  • EVENTS: It's kinda neat when someone comes across and realizes that.
  • NEWSOM: Other sergeants I have associated with - one night we all were discussing gays, and one said, "I can't think of a reason for us not to hire gays." Quite a turnabout, and it made me feel very good when I heard it.
  • EVENTS: Is there any possibility of that policy being changed?
  • NEWSOM: I'm sure; we have already changed our training as far as cultural awareness goes.
  • EVENTS: We heard good things about your training rookies at the Dallas Police Academy.
  • NEWSOM: We had always had much info on cultural awareness. Many times our officers are fresh out of college as opposed to having any real world experience. Of course, gay training had been kinda ignored so I sat down with Bill Nelson, who was president at that time of the Dallas Gay Alliance. He just opened up the archives to me, gave me memos between the Gay Alliance and the police department, newspaper articles on raids on bathhouses, bars and so forth - he just opened all these things up to me. So I was able to have some people at the police academy restructure the cultural awareness training on gays.
  • EVENTS: That's terrific.
  • NEWSOM: There are gay activists that were not happy with the training that we had had, and this was much more acceptable to them -still not l00% acceptable - but when the blacks had problems, different people from the group had been brought in for discussion and planning, sort of a panel type group. And they will not do that with the gays at this point.
  • EVENTS: They won't!
  • NEWSOM: Not yet.
  • EVENTS: God, I could imagine bringing in someone like Bill Sanders.
  • NEWSOM: Oh yeah! Bill would be excellent.
  • EVENTS: He speaks well, looks like or better than everyone else ...
  • NEWSOM: Bill is great, I think the world of him. I rode one of Bill's horses at the rodeo.
  • EVENTS: That's great.
  • NEWSOM: By the way I mentioned Terry Tebedo several times.
  • EVENTS: I haven't met him.
  • NEWSOM: Terry passed away about a year ago, which was a terrible sad thing. The chief of the Central Division was Lowell Cannaday, and he attended Terry's funeral as I did. It was actually a memorial service and Cannaday's wife, Rusty, also came. Halloween is a big event on Cedar Springs Road. All of the gays and a lot of non-gays dress up in costume and parade the streets. Chief Cannaday and his wife would always come down to see this event. One year when the chief had to be out of town, I had carried his wife down there, introduced her to Bill Nelson and Terry and some of the others involved in Gay Alliance. She liked Terry - you could not meet him and not like him - he was that kind of person. She was very touched. I went to the memorial service in uniform. In all of the things I've been able to do in the police department I had 100% support of Chief Cannaday.
  • EVENTS: This is very unusual.
  • NEWSOM: If I wanted him to go out and talk to Bill or whoever he would say, "Okay, let's go!" By his going with me it helped immensely. Also I had the full support of Chief Prince, who has since retired. I'm not too familiar with the new chiefs but they are aware of what I'm doing. I don't anticipate it will change any - at least not for the worse.
  • EVENTS: Have you had any political flack?
  • NEWSOM: No, not at all.
  • EVENTS: And your neighbors?
  • NEWSOM: My neighbors are good - at least I think so. The people in the gay community understand that my first priority is giving them good police service and everybody deserves that. Don't matter if you're gay, black or purple. Everyone deserves good police protection.
  • EVENTS: Do you find more gay people are comihg to you for help?
  • NEWSOM: I've had such a high profile. In addition to my work out there I also do a television spot called "Crime World." Since I've beep working with gays I get calls from them no matter what area of town they're in even though it is not my area. In the majority of the cases, I think I've been able to help the situations.
  • EVENTS: The whole community knows you are the one to come to. Is there a forum, when chiefs and captains get together? Is there a group that you belong to?
  • NEWSOM: No, I'm afraid not.
  • EVENTS: I just wonder if your philosophy has an impact on the police officers in other parts of the country.
  • NEWSOM: I very seriously doubt if I have any effect anywhere else.
  • EVENTS: Too bad.
  • NEWSOM: I've had talks with members of state police in other cities. Of course there are people throughout the country that know me. I got a call yesterday from a lady who had just moved to Dallas recently from New York. She is gay and she had been given my name by a gay police officer in New York. They have a gay officers association in New York called GOAL and this man was a very active member, president or director. I had met him at a Freedom Parade several years ago and we had talked for a good while. He still remembered me. I was really proud.
  • EVENTS: Do you ever talk to youth groups.
  • NEWSOM: No, the only youth groups I've spoken to are gay groups. Gay and lesbian young adults. I haven't lectured at any schools so far. I've been working evenings for eighteen years.
  • EVENTS: Do you have anything you want to say to the gay community.
  • NEWSOM: Yes. I have a philosophy, it's basically that as people progress and time goes on, whatever prejudice the gay community has suffered in the past is going to drop away. There is a poem I learned as a child and I quoted this at the Dallas Rodeo Awards Banquet: "They drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel, the thing to flout; but wit and I had wit to win. I drew a circle that took them in." I love the gay community!
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    Bull Riding

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Bull riding is the ultimate challenge between man and beast, with the arena itself and rodeo clowns being the only outside controlling factors. This sport is certainly one of the most dangerous in rodeo. The animal will, on average, weigh close to 2,000 pounds which, up against an average rider weight of 150 pounds, doesn't make for very good odds. Some bulls have horns up to nine inches long, giving them a span of eighteen inches. The bull knows where his horns are and how to use them against the rider.

    The equipment used for this event includes a bull rigging (one inch plaid grass rope) which goes around behind the bull's shoulder and around his belly, and a riding glove (right or left) that protects your hand from the pressure of the bull rope. Chaps are not mandatory but some riders choose to wear them to protect their legs from hitting the gates or from rope burns. Most riders wear spurs, which have locking rowels, allowing the rider some stability by permitting him to put the spurs in each side of the animal.

    Two judges are required to score a bull ride, the highest score being one hundred. Each judge will score the rider and bull up to twenty-five points each.

    Bull riding almost always generates an excited response from the audience, as they watch puny man attempting to conquer mighty beast!

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    Flo's Girls

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Interview with Porter [Nurse Strange] Warren

      (Porter Warren could have chosen to lead a life of leisure among the California palms. Instead, she became a nurse and then decided to devote her time, skill and money to the battle against AIDS. She now owns nurses' registries in four states devoted solely to the care of AIDS patients. She has been dubbed a latter-day Florence Nightingale and her nurses, mostly gay males, are known as "Flo's Girls." Porter, along with her "lady," is an avid rodeo fan and participates whenever possible. It was at the gay rodeo that she picked up the nickname, "Nurse Strange," and it has stuck with her. But there is nothing strange about this indomitable, persistent lady, unless it is her fierce determination to make a difference.)

    • EVENTS: Tell us why they call you "Nurse Strange."
    • NRUSE STRANGE: When I went to the first rodeo - before I went in the first rodeo - I was one of the board members of A for AIDS in Los Angeles, and another board member started calling me "Nurse Strange." So that's been my nickname in all the rodeos.
    • EVENTS: Are you, in fact, a nurse?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I am an RN.
    • EVENTS: And where do you practice?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I own nurses' registries in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California and specialize in the care of AIDS patients. We only do AIDS-that's all we do.
    • EVENTS: Tell us a little bit about how you started.
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I started because I worked for another nurses' registry, as a nurse for an AIDS patient. I could not be homophobic, 'cause I'm gay myself. I didn't know anything about AIDS. At that time I thought it was just a male homosexual, political disease. But when I was on the case, I found that the homophobia from the straight nurses, the AIDS-phobia from the straight nurses, offended me. So, I decided to start my own AIDS-oriented nurses' registry to take care of AIDS patients, and hire only people who wanted to work with AIDS patients. So, in California, ninety-eight percent of my nurses are gay men. I do have some token straights, as I teasingly call them, and some gay females. But we're predominantly gay male in all my agencies.
    • EVENTS: How did you recruit these nurses?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I was the first person ever to advertise in gay magazines for nurses. I figured, if they've read the advertisement, they were gay. But it was mostly word of mouth. People heard about me and they wanted to work with AIDS patients, 'cause I was the first in the world to do only AIDS patients. Other AIDS-oriented agencies have started up since then; most of the people who started them have worked for me and then decided to go out on their own. But mine is still the only agency that does strictly AIDS and ARC patients.
    • EVENTS: What percentage of your patients is indigent?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: One-third of my patients have no insurance. They're known as indigent patients, and I will take care of them free of charge because they deserve the right.
    • EVENTS: Does this mean that you will never turn anyone away?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I don't turn anyone away. I do monitor the severity of the disease. If somebody says, "I need nursing," I'll go look and sometimes I'll say, "At this moment you don't. Let me show you how you can maintain your health." I do that so they can work within themselves and help themselves. And then, when they do need nursing, I will send a nurse to take care of them.
    • EVENTS: What kind of care do your nurses provide? Someone comes to your office and says, "I have AIDS. I need help."
    • NRUSE STRANGE: They call-they don't come to the office -they call and say, "I need care." Or a discharge planner says, "I need someone to care for this person with AIDS." Then we set up what the patient needs.
    • EVENTS: For instance...
    • NRUSE STRANGE: If it's twenty-four hours of licensed R.N., I'll set that up. If the patient needs IV therapy, then the R.N. will hang the IV's. If the patient just needs help to bathe, to make him or her eat, then we can send a nurse's aide in. It all depends. We have medical social workers who go in and help patients accept the disease, help the lover or husband or wife-; whoever is the significant other - deal with the disease process.
    • EVENTS: So you provide a therapy situation as well?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: Right. The nurses provide it. If the person has no significant other and has no one, the nurse in a sense becomes the significant other and helps him or her. Each person has a choice: He or she can choose to live or choose to die. It's the patients choice. If they choose to live, we'll help them as much as we can; if they choose to die, we allow their dignity.
    • EVENTS: Tell us how you can ascertain who is choosing to live and who is choosing to die.
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I ask. I ask' each and every person. I don't believe you have to die from AIDS. Most AIDS patients are emaciated when they die. That is not the disease of AIDS. That is starvation.
    • EVENTS: What other services do your nurses provide?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I think the thing I'm providing the most is love. That is more important - almost - than the nursing care. I provide top-notch nursing care, but every one of the nurses also loves. And they not only love the patient, they love the family members and support them.
    • EVENTS: How many nurses do you employ all together?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: It varies with the patient load. Anywhere from fifty to a hundred.
    • EVENTS: Do you visit one center and then another? Do you go around the country?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I go around the country. My home base is California, but I fly to different areas to see how things are going. Sometimes, I'll relieve a staff member for a while, because there's burn-out, and I understand burn-out. I'm not allowed to burn-out because I'm the boss:
    • EVENTS: Tell us about burn-out. Now is this just plain exhaustion, or does it become emotional exhaustion?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: First, you must realize that most of my nurses are gay males. In the back of every one of their minds is the thought that they could be next. I've had four nurses diagnosed, with two deaths. That's devastating to me. It's devastating to my nurses because they know that through their lifestyle- and I don't mean homosexual lifestyle, but through the drinking and drugging - they have lowered their immune systems enough so that maybe the virus will take over someday. There is burn-out after a while. They go somewhere else, they work, and then they call me and say, "I'm okay. Let's go."
    • EVENTS: Do you see your nurses beginning to straighten out their lives as they learn more and more about AIDS?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: As they've been learning more, and as I've taught them. I ask everybody, "How do you get AIDS?" and they all say, "Through sex, IV drugs... "through different things like that. That is wrong. That is how you get exposed to the virus. The only way you can acquire the disease of AIDS is to destroy your immune system ahead of time. And how you destroy the immune system is drugs-pot, IV drug abuse, cocaine. Alcohol abuse over a period of time devastates the immune system. Also, multiple infections with a venereal disease. These are all major co-factors for acquiring the disease 'of AIDS. And what's killing gay men are poppers. Pharmacists have published that poppers destroy your immune system for three years. In that period of time, if you get exposed to the virus, your immune system can't fight the virus.
    • EVENTS: What would you suggest to a gay person as a way of avoiding AIDS?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: What I always say is, "Clean up your act." And I don't mean sexual. I mean, get away from the drugs, get away from the alcohol, and definitely wear condoms.
    • EVENTS: So you would advise the elimination of drugs and alcohol from the system?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: Exactly. And condoms-wear condoms. And I'm talking about everybody, gay or straight.
    • EVENTS: Tell us something about yourself. You mentioned that you're wealthy. Where did that come from?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: My parents were wealthy. "Landed gentry," from the south. I grew up with a gold spoon in my mouth. I didn't even know there was a middle class until I went to college. What a shock! So I've never really had to work.
    • EVENTS: When did you first know you were gay?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: When I was nineteen, I had a bad, emotional love affair with a young man, and a woman came along and said, "I love you." Well, I didn't know anything about the homosexual lifestyle. I said, "Okay." In the common school, "they'd taught that you couldn't have nookie with a man until you married him, but they never told you about women.
    • EVENTS: And no one else...
    • NRUSE STRANGE: It- was never discussed. I come from a class where you're discreet. No one says anything about it.
    • EVENTS: At what point did you tell your mother about your being gay,?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: After the end of the end of the relationship with this woman. She was upset -but she loved me. She never kicked me out of the house because of my lifestyle. I knew that it hurt her. Consequently, I did not flaunt my lifestyle.
    • EVENTS: What about your: father?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: We were not on good speaking terms, and it was never discussed with him,
    • EVENTS: Do you have brothers or sisters?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I have two sisters. Both of them know about my lifestyle. My older sister is not enthused with my lifestyle; I tell her I'm not enthused with her life style.
    • EVENTS: And your younger sister?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: Adores me. I adore her. She's completely supportive of my lifestyle. She has met my lady; she likes my lady. She thinks my lady's wonderful. And she supports me and whatever I choose to do.
    • EVENTS: Have you had any problems socially or within the general society because of being gay?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I will tell you what my aunt told me. Now, remember, my aunt comes from the upper-upper class or caste, whatever you want to call it. Well. she came to my house one day, and we sat there and talked, and I told her about my lifestyle. Her comment was, "My dear, I don't mind, your homosexuality, but consorting with the lower class... This is terrible."
    • EVENTS: This really happened?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: This is true. I roared. Through the darkest days, I have remembered that and laughed. And she really doesn't understand homosexuality. But when I was in New York opening up the New York office, a man wrote an article called "My Daughter, Who Is a Lesbian." My aunt put it on my bed to let me know that she had read it. But as far as the actual concept of physical homosexuality and everything like that, she has no idea. When 1 told her I was waiting for my lady to come home and that I'd wait the rest of my life, she wrote me a letter saying, "This is right out of Emily Bronte." And I loved it.
    • EVENTS: So tell us about this lady you waited for.
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I met her seven years ago. We had a relationship then, but she had a roommate who did not want to leave my lady. They were not lovers, they were roommates. A lot of things happened and it was a very bad mess, but this was the one woman in my life that I wanted. So I persevered. Just to be rotten, I bought a house next door to her and her roommate, and I waited for her. And in April, she came home, and we will be together for the rest of our lives. So, if you truly want something, if you persevere and wait, you can get it.
    • EVENTS: How did you get into nursing and why?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I got into nursing because I knew I did riot have the emotional stability to go to medical school. I had the brains, I had the entrance fees - I had everything like that. At the time I knew I could not make it through the four years of med school. I went into nursing because I was going to be a good girl. My parents were no longer going to support me and send me an allowance. So I got into nursing. My dream is still to go to medical school. I'm getting too old - I'm forty-one.
    • EVENTS: You're not too old. They take....
    • NRUSE STRANGE: They're beginning to take older people. The problem is, I am committed to the care of AIDS. I am committed to the education. I am committed to people living with AIDS and to their knowing that they can live. So I'll probably never have time, because I don't believe there will be a vaccine - not for a, long time.
    • EVENTS: What is your connection with the gay rodeo?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: My connection with the rodeo is basically as Nurse Strange. I come to the rodeo to have a good time with my hope and be Nurse Strange, and I do it because I deal with death so much. I want some lightness, and it is absolutely wonderful to be around gays. It's loads of fun competing against gays. I mean, you can get the screaming queens, but the moment you go back to the contestant area, we are all together to help one another and to have a good time. I have seen nothing but good times here. Everybody is enjoying themselves. The emotional high is fantastic. I am "Miss Golden State Rodeo Association, from California, which I think is fun. That means you have raised money and that you did a riding event. Here, men and women are together. Gay men and women are together. They are supportive of each other, and its wonderful to see that. I love the rodeo, and that's my connection. If they need money and I've got it, I will support them. I am selfish - I want some fun in my life. That's what the gay rodeo is.
    • EVENTS: Is there anything else that you would like to say, something we haven't asked you?
    • NRUSE STRANGE: I can't think of anything except the one thing that I want everybody to know: You can live with the disease of AIDS if you choose to do so. There are people living five, six and seven years with the disease of AIDS. All you need is love. A little bit of help from nursing' a little bit of help from the doctors. I want everybody to know that you do not have to die from AIDS.
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    Send In The Clowns

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Interview with Dwight Whitt

    (Scratch the clown white paint on Dwight Whitt's face and you find an honest, charming and handsome man of about thirty who has his eye on the target and is determined to hit the hull's eye. He is the kind of man who will wear yellow in the arena - his wig, his bib - when yellow is notoriously and traditionally the bad-luck color of the rodeo, and many cowboys and cowgirls will not let him touch them. To Dwight, this superstition is but another of life's challenges which he must overcome, and add to the list of challenges already behind him. And have no fear-overcome it he will. The Editor)

    • EVENTS: Where are you from, Dwight?
    • DWIGHT: I grew up on a quarter horse ranch in Tupelo, Mississippi, but actually I started kicking too soon and was born on a trip in Oklahoma City.
    • EVENTS: For the sake of us Eastern dudes, can you explain quarter horse?
    • DWIGHT: Quarter horses come from deep South stock, and when my great-great-grandsires came home after the war, instead of reinvesting in cotton, they invested in horses. They had more than two thousand acres and ran quarter horses, good show stock, trotting stock and that sort of thing. I grew up doing that and riding the professional rodeo circuit as a kid. I worked my way up through it until I was injured in 1981 when a bull rolled over on me. I sort of got out of the circuit then.
    • EVENTS: What exactly were you doing in the rodeo?
    • DWIGHT: I was trick-riding. I did all the typical riding events - barrel racing, pole bending, flag race, that sort of thing. And I've been in some rough stock events, did broncs and bull-riding.
    • EVENTS: How old were you when you started?
    • DWIGHT: I was fourteen at my first rodeo and I did it for seven years, till I was twenty-one.
    • EVENTS: Isn't fourteen young for that sort of thing?
    • DWIGHT: No, you start Little Britches. Every kid that grows up on a farm usually rides a couple seasons with Little Britches rodeos, just to prove he's a man.
    • EVENTS: Little Britches being rodeos for kids?
    • DWIGHT: Yeah. They're sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
    • EVENTS: So you're a real, live cowboy?
    • DWIGHT: Yeah. And now I'm a real, live rodeo clown.
    • EVENTS: When did that start?
    • DWIGHT: Just a couple of years ago. I was a little gunshy after my injury with the bull, I was in a hip cast for quite a while. That same year, Walt, the only lover I've ever had, was killed in a car accident. We had met riding the rodeo circuit when I was sixteen - he was a champion bull-rider-and we were together until he was killed. So with all that I just couldn't deal with rodeos at all. Then a couple of years ago a friend called from Mississippi and said he was coming here to Denver to clown at a rodeo and invited me along to watch. I was fascinated so I talked with him about it and he hooked me up with some people here and I started doing small rodeos here in Denver and in the area. I enjoyed myself and then, out of the blue, I met one of the other clowns, Barry, and he suggested that I go with him to Los Angeles to do a gay rodeo. So off we went, and I had the time of my life. I hadn't realized that gay rodeos are as serious as they are - that they're real rodeos and long and hot and so on. So I did that rodeo and others in between and now I'm going for my certification. I have to put in a certain number of hours in the arena to become a bull-fighter, which is different than what we're doing out there now. We're entertainers now. There have been some problems with the straight bull-fighters working gay rodeos and it's time for me to get my certification and be a gay bull-fighter for the gay rodeos.
    • EVENTS: What exactly is a bull-fighter?
    • DWIGHT: A bull-fighter helps distract the bull after he's thrown a rider until he's brought under control and back in the pen. He has to have worked with rough stock practically all his life. You get certification by logging hours. You need a certain number of hours in PRCA-sanctioned rodeos and you have to attend seminars, which are pretty expensive. After you get your certification you can then get paid. Right now we clowns don't get paid - we do it for the fun. Most out-of-town rodeos will pay our flights out and back and our hotel rooms but that's about it.
    • EVENTS: So there is one bull-fighter and he runs the arena and the clowns.
    • DWIGHT: He doesn't really tell us what to do. He just tells us whether or not we can be in the arena. He's there if we get a mean bull. Then he tangles with it and he'll run it around the arena and get chased by it and thrown by it. He has agreed that, since I have worked bulls, he'll let me stay in the arena at all times, even if we get a mean one. But he'll motion the others out. He's sort of the king of rough stock. The other three of us are here mainly to play the audience and keep them entertained and fill the empty spaces between events. But the bull-fighter is king of the arena, and if he tells us to get the fuck out of his arena then we're out.
    • EVENTS: Let's go back to how you got started clowning.
    • DWIGHT: Well, a friend introduced me to a bull-fighter here in Denver who agreed to let me play with him. He called me one day and told me he had a rodeo coming up and I should get some make-up and bibs and come along.
    • EVENTS: Bibs?
    • DWIGHT: These baggy pants that all clowns wear, with tights underneath. If a bull hooks into them, you can just slide right out of them. If you're wearing jeans or something like that, he can catch onto you and throw you and hurt you real bad. These bibs are a safety mechanism. So I went down to a local costume shop here and bought myself a little pail of clown white. And he took me out into the arena and I got hooked and that's all there is to it.
    • EVENTS: What is it about being a clown that turns you on?
    • DWIGHT: It's a terrific high. You get out there and the adrenaline is pumping. I am not so much into doing the entertaining - I do it because I do it well. It requires a lot of energy to play with the crowd, and it brings out a part of me that you don't normally see. I'm a very quiet and retiring person, but under this make-up and in this costume, I can get away with anything I want. I enjoy molesting pretty men but I'd never talk to them if it weren't for this make-up. But the real reason I do it is the animals. There's something about daring the animals and confronting two thousand pounds of very angry animal that could kill you - that is a real adrenaline rush. I have to do some real meditation work in the evenings after a rodeo. Last night I went home and ran three miles - in my make-up - to run off the energy. Then I took a shower and had to do some hard meditation just to pull myself back into reality, because you have to calm yourself down. But it's the most incredible rush you'll ever experience. It is just hot - a lot of fun.
    • EVENTS: What kind of reaction do you get when you're playing up to pretty men? Do they like it?
    • DWIGHT: (Laughing) Of course they like it. It embarrasses them but they don't take me seriously. I know now what it's like for people who do drag, because when I'm out there playing the audience and having a good time with them and embarrassing them to death, they don't know who I am - they know me as Bullshot, the clown, but not Dwight.
    • EVENTS: Is there any sex life for you at all as a clown?
    • DWIGHT: No, absolutely not. Would you fuck with someone who looks like this?
    • EVENTS: You mentioned Bullshot. That's your clown name?
    • DWIGHT: Yes, but some people have changed that to Bullstuff and I think that's more fun. I'm going to change it, as in "Full of Bull-stuff."
    • EVENTS: How old were you when you came out?
    • DWIGHT: Well, now, coming out and having sexual experiences are two different things. I grew up in a real sexual environment on the ranch. Generally, you tie a mare that's in heat into a corner of a corral, and then you bring in the stud and he'll get all excited. Finally, he'll mount her and somebody has to run up underneath and shove it in - make sure that it goes in. This, of course, gives every man within seeing distance a hard-on. So, generally, people would disappear one by one off to the barn and then come back later.
    • EVENTS: It turned on hetero men as well as gays?
    • DWIGHT: Of course. There were no gay men that I know of-well, at least not that admitted it. Anyway, I used to hide in the hayloft and watch and one day I got discovered and decided to play the game. I enjoyed myself and learned a few things and then I fought it, as I guess we all do, at least for a time. For me, being gay is a conscious choice. I did my time with women and it's not the same. I don't know what it is, it's just not the same. Sexually, I am more attracted to men. I like the hardness, the coarseness and the roughness. And I've never had that with women. I was raised in the deep South, and you're taught that women are very special; you treat them gently. So I could never let myself go during a sexual thing with a woman. I could never let go and do what I really wanted to do. With men, I find that I can let go. I proudly proclaim that I'm neither a top nor a bottom-I'm a middle. And I mean that. I like a wrestling match to find out who's going to get to do what when. Anyway, I actually came out when I went to college. Some friend took me to my first gay bar in Memphis and I thought, these are men and they're having a good time, and this is where I'm at. Eventually, my Mom asked the infamous question. I told her that if she didn't want to know then she'd better not ask. She assumed. My mom and I went through a rough time, but now we're okay. She was very supportive when Walt was killed.
    • EVENTS: Does your whole family know now?
    • DWIGHT: Yes, except for my mother's present husband. He's a little bit of a religious person and he'd have a problem with it. I talked it over with Mom and we decided it was best that he not know. But all of my real family knows.
    • EVENTS: Are you not looking for another lover?
    • DWIGHT: I find that when I look, I don't find them. Right now I am the original founder of the Triple M Club.
    • EVENTS: Which is?
    • DWIGHT: Married Man Magnet. Every perfect man that I find, the one who has all the right qualifica-ions has a boy frie11d, So I'm getting real experience at being the other woman - for brief periods of time, till they decide they have to make a choice. And I always lose.
    • EVENTS: Someday your prince will come.
    • DWIGHT: I'm certain of it. Right now I'm doing something really strange. I'm dating a man who's in the throes of breaking up. Now this is different. I might win in this one. I don't know.
    • EVENTS: How far can you go as a clown? What's the ultimate achievement?
    • DWIGHT: At the moment there are six gay rodeos, three in each division, plus the finals for a total of seven. The International Gay Rodeo Association is pondering a plan now that will increase the number of rodeos to fifteen altogether. So if that comes off, and I'm invited to work those rodeos as a professional bull-fighter, that would keep me busy. As a professional I would be paid for my time.
    • EVENTS: Can you make a lot of money?
    • DWIGHT: Yes. Some of these guys make a lot of money. The guy working this Denver rodeo is probably making several thousand dollars. They have to have him because it's required, so he's guaranteed to be paid. All in all, I could make a living at it. I would like that. I would particularly like working gay rodeos. With hetero rodeos I'd have to fight tooth and nail to get in. You'd have to work on an internship with a professional clown for a while and get your name known. Then you finally get hired by a stock contractor, like the guy who's providing our stock here. He pays you and sends you where he wants you to go.
    • EVENTS: What's different about clowning at rodeos and, say, Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey?
    • DWIGHT: The danger is the big difference. At the rodeos, you have to entertain and you have to work the stock and save guys' lives. Not too long ago I literally did that. It was the first truly frightening thing that I did myself. I was there at the right time and literally saved this guy's life. He wasn't unconscious, he was simply stunned. And I played the bull and got him away from the guy and one of the other clowns dragged him out of the arena as I was being chased all over the place. This bull was out to get me. He was pissed off. He came past me and I bounced off his horn. He spun around and I took off towards the chute. I could feel him right behind me - he was right there! This particular chute had an intake gate so there was a bar up above it. They saw me coming and opened up the chute and I leaped up on the bar and swung myself up and over. He ran right under me and they shut the gate. I thought I was dead meat for a while there. EVENTS: You have to be in pretty good shape to do what you're doing.
    • DWIGHT: I run and I work in the gym. I'm not into becoming Mr. Muscles. I'm into keeping my body in good shape. I work out every other day and for the past three weeks I've. been working my legs real hard, because that's what hurts when you're out there. You're dancing from side to side, you're dodging fast, and sometimes you're running like hell. You've got to keep your legs in shape. The first couple of times, I hurt so bad on the sides of my legs. You can work these muscles real easily, but the side muscles are the ones that kill you.
    • EVENTS: How many clowns are there working the gay rodeo circuit?
    • DWIGHT: There are six of us that perform regularly and go from place to place. Texas had their own clowns this year. Oklahoma did not use any. There are three of us here; two of us are newcomers and one has been in the circuit for a long time. It's sort of political -you have to know the right people and you have to take a back seat to the guys who have been doing it a long time. There's this seniority thing which I don't understand. Seniority seems to count more than talent.
    • EVENTS: At this point in time, is it fair to say that your life's ambition is to be the best clown you know how to be?
    • DWIGHT: You bet. I like doing what I'm doing. I'm also a carpenter and I build incredible furniture. I could do that and supplement my income working the gay rodeos. After I get my certification, I might choose to be a full-time clown and do woodworking as a hobby.
    • EVENTS: When you go to a gay bar to cruise, do you find that Bullstuff gets in your way?
    • DWIGHT: I'm not a real bar person. I go out once a week or so, to Charlie's or the Triangle. Most of the people in the Triangle don't know who I am or what I do. They know me as Dwight. A lot of the guys at Charlie's know I'm a member of the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association because I do a lot of volunteer work with the group. But most of them don't really put Dwight and Bullstuff together as one person. The guys at the Triangle would freak if I walked in in my clown make-up. I'm going to wear my white chaps down there one night. I think they badly need to see white naugahyde chaps with red sequins!
    • EVENTS: Does being a clown affect your sex life in any way?
    • DWIGHT: Most people just don't consider it. For a long time I was really insecure. After Walt died I went on an eating binge in my grief and got really huge. I've lost a hundred pounds since then but sometimes I still see myself as a fat boy. But I'm getting over that and I'm noticing people noticing me. Yesterday, during the grand entry parade, I heard some guys commenting on my ass. That's the first time I've consciously recorded that kind of thing. It was sort of fun. And sort of scary, too.
    • EVENTS: I understand that all the stock men here are hetero. How are they interacting with the gay cowboys?
    • DWIGHT: Yeah, all the stock guys are straight. They were a bit cool at first but now they've warmed up some. Today they were talking with us and admitting they were impressed. They didn't know that gay men did real rodeos. They were impressed yesterday to see we have men who ride just as well as they do.
    • EVENTS: So maybe these gay rodeos will do a lot toward breaking down barriers between the straight and gay worlds.
    • DWIGHT: That's really a possibility.
    • EVENTS: Do you like Dwight?
    • DWIGHT: I like Dwight an awful lot - I truly do. In fact, I'll gladly say that I love Dwight. I wasn't very happy with myself there for a while because I went through a lot of the same trauma that many gay men go through. I felt less than a man. Perhaps that's why I am attracted to what I do right now - both the woodworking and the clowning. They're both very masculine and I get to associate with very masculine men.
    • EVENTS: When you first decided to go into clowning, that was not in any way an escape from Dwight? You weren't trying to create a different persona for yourself?
    • DWIGHT: No, that was facing a fear. I had not been back in the arena since Walt's death, and it was really frightening for me to be back out there with the bulls that hurt me, that really hurt me. It was a conscious act on my part to conquer fear.
    • EVENTS: So you're happy with your life right now?
    • DWIGHT: By and large, I am.
    • EVENTS: Is there anything you'd change about your life right now if you could?
    • DWIGHT: I'd be married.
    • EVENTS: To a man?
    • DWIGHT: Yeah. I don't want to hang lace curtains - let me make that real clear. I don't even necessarily want to live with someone. But I want to be courted. I want a boyfriend, I want someone to care about me, to send me flowers and call in the middle of the night because he woke up and thought of me. My friends tell me I'd better find a straight man and train him because there ain't no gays like that!
    • EVENTS: Don't you believe it.
    • DWIGHT: Well, there are a lot of pretty men here, I'll tell ya. It sure is fun.
    • EVENTS: Amen to that!
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    A transcript of the following article is available below
    Transcript of the above article

    Man At The Top

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Interview with Bill Sanders

    (Whoever nails Bill Sanders is going to be one helluva lucky guy. What he's gonna get is a handsome, strapping man in his late thirties who exudes charm like the sun exudes rays, who has three healthy, good-looking teen-age kids who know - and accept -the fact that he's gay, a thriving veterinarian business in Dallas, a couple of show and rodeo horses and, from what we observed, a string of friends stretching from here to there. Coincidentally, Bill shares the honors for Best All-Around Cowboy for the IGRA 1988 finals -and this issue's cover - with master horseman Greg Olson. We caught up with Bill at the CGRA Rodeo in Denver in July, and elicited this interesting conversation from him. The Editor)

    • EVENTS: Bill, where are you from?
    • BILL: Dallas, Texas.
    • EVENTS: How long have you been doing the Gay rodeos?
    • BILL: Denver a year ago was my first gay rodeo. I did junior redoes in my hometown.
    • EVENTS: Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up?
    • BILL: I grew up on a stock farm in San Angelo, Texas. I went to school at Dickson University. I was a research pathologist for three years. I've been practicing veterinary medicine for seventeen years.
    • EVENTS: You're a veterinarian now?
    • BILL: With small horses and small pets.
    • EVENTS: What about your childhood? Was there anything unusual about it?
    • BILL: A farm kid, who ran around without anything on but cut-off shorts in the summer. I had pet pigs and chickens. Just a real farm kid.
    • EVENTS: At what age did you realize you were gay?
    • BILL: I was always more interested in observing men, starting around age six.
    • EVENTS: About the age of six?
    • BILL: Yes.
    • EVENTS: Is there anything that happened on the farm, the ranch, that would have encouraged this?
    • BILL: No.
    • EVENTS: You were never molested as & child?
    • BILL: Never.
    • EVENTS: You just suddenly realized that you were interested in men?
    • BILL: It's always been a matter of choice and feelings.
    • EVENTS: How old were you when you had your first sexual experience?
    • BILL: I was a virgin with women till I was twenty-one. I was married for thirteen years and was very religious. Where I grew up you don't have role models of gay people who live together. It was considered a sin to be gay. You sort of try to offset that with a woman that would be a very strong religious influence. I married a very religious girl.
    • EVENTS: You deliberately married a very religious girl, or you fell in love with a girl who happer1ed to be religious?
    • BILL: Well, you become infatuated with - you're supposed to fall in love and get married and have kids. I did all of these things.
    • EVENTS: Before the age of twenty-one, had you been to bed with a man?
    • BILL: I went all the way through university never really going to bed with a man. Just playing around kind of stuff. The first man I ever went to bed with was in Chicago when I was in the military and that was five years after I was married.
    • EVENTS: You were married at what age?
    • BILL: Twenty-one.
    • EVENTS: Did she know that you liked men or was this something you kept to yourself?
    • BILL: Her style is to not be perceptive and so it was easy to start coming out and giving excuses. She really didn't want to know. She wanted everything to be perfect. Pollyanna Perfect was her attitude. Even through the divorce, she never realized I was gay. The psychiatrist she had started seeing caused us to decide to get the divorce. He stimulated her to think that it would be possible that I was gay. We never discussed it until two years after the divorce.
    • EVENTS: You have children?
    • BILL: Yes. I have three kids. In fact, my first real gay experience was when my wife was pregnant. That's the whole thing. See, she wanted to get married and have babies. She would not want to have sex during pregnancy, which made it very easy for me to justify my first experience, which I never felt guilty about. That set off a long time of self-examination. It's developed to the point that I'm very comfortable with it.
    • EVENTS: How did it happen, your first experience?
    • BILL: Walking down the street and a very handsome man said hello and I just said hello, walked up on his porch and that was it.
    • EVENTS: No nerves, no tension, just-
    • BILL: - excitement.
    • EVENTS: How old are your children?
    • BILL: They're fourteen, sixteen and almost eighteen. They are almost twenty-two months apart.
    • EVENTS: Do they know you're gay?
    • BILL: Yes. Two are here at the rodeo with me.
    • EVENTS: How do they feel about it?
    • BILL: My son is going with a girl here in Denver. They met in the hotel. Her mother is gay. He said a few nights ago that he was glad he learned much earlier than she has learned. It was much easier on him to deal with it at a younger age.
    • EVENTS: How did your children learn? Did you tell them?
    • BILL: After the divorce I had a lover for six years and they were around me.
    • EVENTS: They were young and not old enough to have heard.
    • BILL: I'm sure they were resentful but I try not to let guilt ruin me at all. I would just be honest and you could see what they would go through, and you could feel the tension on occasion. Most of the time, as long as I was loving, and interested in what they were doing, they could deal with it.
    • EVENTS: So your children have finally been accepting.
    • BILL: Oh, yes. All of my friends. Everyone I meet and everyone who comes to the house and all the parties I give, the kids are included.
    • EVENTS: I guess that had a lot to do with it. Including your children totally in your life.
    • BILL: Yes, and just being interested in them. Anything they do, I go. I participate in anything I can.
    • EVENTS: Do they live with you?
    • BILL: I've had custody of my oldest daughter for two years. I just got custody of my son, who is sixteen. The youngest says she wants to be with me next year. She's still torn between living with her mother and hurting her mother's feelings.
    • EVENTS: How did you get custody? Why did you get custody?
    • BILL: My ex-wife married a military person and went to Germany. My daughter became anorexic because of all the pressure. He is not a loving, caring kind of man. My ex-wife is not a nurturing kind of woman. Under the situation my daughter basically became a vegetarian. It's a continuous hassle for her to eat the way she chose to eat. She became anorexic and they realized that she should come back to the states.
    • EVENTS: So they gave you custody. How did she do with you?
    • BILL: She started from not making good grades to making straight A's at the arts school. At one hundred six pounds she functions perfectly. She's in dance. Very active, very disciplined.
    • EVENTS: She's one hundred six pounds now, what was she when you first got her?
    • BILL: About ninety or eighty-five. At one hundred six she's about at the best weight for her size. She feels like she looks - great.
    • EVENTS: She got back some nurturing, I guess.
    • BILL: Yes, we were best buddies. I really miss her. She's been at college for a month now.
    • EVENTS: How did you get custody of your boy?
    • BILL: Well the same thing started to develop. My wife and her husband had started physically back-handing and slugging. It's the kind of attitude that makes you resentful. For example, if you strike a horse and it's uncalled for, and you repeat that action often enough, you'll make that horse resentful. The same thing with people. So I tell them every day that I love them and I give them lots of hugs and I include them.
    • EVENTS: He elected to come and live with you and your wife agreed to give you custody?
    • BILL: Yes.
    • EVENTS: It sounds like the kids are better off with you anyway. And now the youngest girl wants to join you?
    • BILL: Yes. She's still trying to decide what the best is for her. She'll make the right decision.
    • EVENTS: Is she being mistreated in anyway at all? Is she unhappy?
    • BILL: It's mental cruelty.
    • EVENTS: In what way?
    • BILL: Double standards. If I tell my ex-wife that I can't believe she is still striking the children she would retort that I spanked them before. I would then tell her that if I believed my behavior was wrong I corrected it - but she is only getting worse. The kids are getting older and spanking and hitting are out of line. She tries to justify her and her husband's mistreatment of the children by the fact that a teenager should not talk back to him. Well, teenagers are human beings. I give them responsibilities and help them make good judgments. They're never bad.
    • EVENTS: What would you say is the way you gear your children?
    • BILL: I never tell them shouldn't. I tell them their behavior is unbecoming. I tell them I don't agree with it. I tell them if they want to make a choice and want my opinion then I'll give it to them. I never tell them that they should do something or shouldn't have done something. I tell them it works this way or I've seen it work that way.
    • EVENTS: They're obviously comfortable with it if they are here with you, at a gay rodeo.
    • BILL: I'm just honest with them.
    • EVENTS: You live in a home?
    • BILL: A three bedroom home and pool.
    • EVENTS: Do your children ever talk to you about being gay? For instance does your son have any feelings that maybe because you are, he might be?
    • BILL: No. They are not at all concerned about that. When he was eleven we had our first talk about that. He knew things because he had been around gay people. He asked, "So, Dad, when are you going to get me a Playboy?" So I said, "Well, you'll get it today." At eleven! So we talked after that. He asked why I didn't go straight. I explained that I had tried and that it didn't work. I asked if he understood and he said he understood it now. And that's all that was really said. I think a child, until he's responsible, needs supervision. The amount of supervision depends on how much bad judgment he exercised. I'm having to open up for him to make some mistakes that he can learn by, that won't be costly. I expect my children to make mistakes.
    • EVENTS: Do you have a lover now?
    • BILL: Not now.
    • EVENTS: But you have had, and the children have been around. How do your lovers feel about your children? What is their reaction?
    • BILL: I'm a pretty high performance kind of person; so I haven't really had a lover yet that could keep up with me. In most cases, the kids have been a threat to them because a lot of people aren't comfortable with it.
    • EVENTS: Comfortable with being gay?
    • BILL: And being around children and the responsibility that goes with it. I never give them any responsibilities. They kind of try responsibilities. I have guys suggest I should do things with my kids who know nothing about it. I'm just amused by it.
    • EVENTS: I suppose most parents get that. Usually from people who don't have children. They always know better.
    • BILL: What I see with gay parents is that so many of them have put themselves through so much trying. I had come out enough that I felt it wouldn't hurt my practice. When I got the divorce, it was financially a disaster. I got many hate letters saying I was going to hell and I should move out of town. They weren't signed. We were active at the church, so people wanted to know why. It got out that I was gay.
    • EVENTS: It was because of your gayness, not because of your divorce that the church members got upset?
    • BILL: Both.
    • EVENTS: Did you leave the church?
    • BILL: Oh, yes. I left the church and I bought my kids a four bedroom home in another town only fifteen minutes away.
    • EVENTS: You said about two years after you were divorced, you discussed the fact that you were gay with your wife. What precipitated that?
    • BILL: Well, our kids were growing up and I thought maybe we could be friends for their sakes.
    • EVENTS: Did it work?
    • BILL: I thought for a while we were developing a good friendship but there is no friendship there. The minute she got married again, it was like she had never been honest with me about anything.
    • EVENTS: Are the children religious?
    • BILL: They go to church, but they are not fanatic.
    • EVENTS: How are you doing in the rodeo so far?
    • BILL: I know that I've won the calf roping on foot already and second in goat decorating. So we're working on it.
    • EVENTS: Are there cash prizes?
    • BILL: Oh, yes. All-around is one thousand dollars and a saddle. Each event has one.
    • EVENTS: You obviously enjoy rodeo.
    • BILL: Well, I think that gay rodeos are a very wholesome activity -and ..I'm surprised that.. I'm foolish enough to do it!...
    • EVENTS: Why foolish?
    • BILL: Because it's work! I mean it's amazing to get out there and to take the blows and to go all day long doing ten events. It's amazing.
    • EVENTS: So how do you feel at night? After all this?
    • BILL: Well, in Dallas, my attorney came in and she's gay. We started partying on Thursday night, we partied Friday night, and she chased her girlfriends around and I helped. Even Saturday night with a broken rib. And we partied Sunday night, too. I was totally wasted.
    • EVENTS: You don't seem any the worse for wear.
    • BILL: I caught my calf in one point zero four seconds this morning.
    • EVENTS: Do you feel good about yourself at the end of the day?
    • BILL: Oh, yeah.
    • EVENTS: Healthy and strong? A sense of well being?
    • BILL: Yes.
    • EVENTS: Your kids must be very proud of you.
    • BILL: Oh, they think I'm a star.
    • EVENTS: Are rodeos a good makeout time for you?
    • BILL: Some people get caught up in going to the bars. A number of people at the rodeos are into that, which is okay. I like the entertaining aspect. I like the fact the people can get down to earth and then still get into entertainment. I'm crazy about being entertained. I went to New York City and my first time I saw nine plays in ten days. I jogged three miles a day down the Hudson River and I went to every store on Fifth Avenue. I had a manicure on Forty-Fourth. Things I've never done.
    • EVENTS: When was this?
    • BILL: It was when I broke up with my lover. We were supposed to go together.
    • EVENTS: Are you actively looking for a new lover?
    • BILL: Oh, I'd like to be sharing my life with someone. I probably have a reputation of not being able to do that. I don't hold on to people that don't have selfesteem close to my level. I think that weighs you down. I'd love to have a companion. I want to go back to New York City again. I just think it would be a great thing to do. So I'm just really enjoying my kids and they're filling a great area in my life right now. I'm not worrying about it, I think it will probably happen. I've always been so optimistic, I've tried so hard.
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    A transcript of the following article is available below
    Transcript of the above article

    Secret Heart

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Interview With Rudy Rocco, otherwise known as Sasha Laboe
    July 2, 1988 in Denver

    (Denver. The CGRA Saturday night hoedown. The ballroom of the Regency Hotel was filled to overflowing. In the front hall, people were dancing to the lively music of a live band. In the back, hucksters manned their stalls, peddling items from art to clothes. Suddenly, a raven-haired beauty in a red dress materialized before our eyes and Sasha Laboe entered our lives. There were many female impersonators in the crowd that night but Sasha stood out from the rest, bright and luminous and - somehow - very real. We felt a need to know what made her tick and -some three hours later - we felt we had at least come close. The Editor)

    • EVENTS: When did you first get an inkling of the fact that you liked to wear women's clothes?
    • RUDY: I have been doing this for two and a half years. I am twenty-four now.
    • EVENTS: Before that, it never occurred to you? You never had any desire to put on women's clothes?
    • RUDY: I have always liked fashion, make-up - I have four sisters. I knew about it, but I never thought that I would do it.
    • EVENTS: As a kid, did you ever put on your sisters' or mother's clothes?
    • RUDY: No - I did try on their shoes, though.
    • EVENTS: So how did it happen the first time?
    • RUDY: I had just moved here to Denver. I have always liked female impersonations. I personally like to be called a female impersonator, because I feel that is what I do. I had two friends, and they would put make-up on me, and that is how it started.
    • EVENTS: They were impersonators?
    • RUDY: No, not at all. They were just friends.
    • EVENTS: When was the first time you went on the stage?
    • RUDY: As a matter of fact, my first show was in Boulder, Colorado -at a party.
    • EVENTS: Impersonations, I take it, are big in Denver.
    • RUDY: There are several groups here in Denver and I do not belong to any of them. I am very independent. I do my own stuff, and I like to get paid well when I do it.
    • EVENTS: How do you compare yourself to the other performers?
    • RUDY: I got here by myself. I never had make-up instruction, wig instruction, how to comb a wig, how to put a wig on. Basically, everybody else has had some kind of help from somebody else - and I haven't. I feel that makes me more powerful than most of them here. I love them all, almost all ...
    • EVENTS: Is there a lot of animosity or jealousy among the performers?
    • RUDY: I do not envy anybody personally. It is there all the time, and you have to be careful with your things because there are always one or two who will take something that does not belong to them.
    • EVENTS: You mean like a wig or jewelry?
    • RUDY: Jewelry, yes.
    • EVENTS: I noticed they introduced you last Thursday as the Crown Princess.
    • RUDY: I am Crown Princess of the Imperial Court right now.
    • EVENTS: Could you explain that?
    • RUDY: The Imperial Court is a gay organization in Denver. Almost all the states have it. It's a club and we do a lot of functions like for AIDS and we raise money for the children's hospital and stuff like that. Charity type shows.
    • EVENTS: There's emperor, empress, crown prince and a crown princess?
    • RUDY: Yes, it goes all down the line. There is an election once a year.
    • EVENTS: I would like to go back a little bit. When you first started wearing female clothes, what was the very first thing you put on?
    • RUDY: It was a black dress and a black pair of shoes.
    • EVENTS: Anything else?
    • RUDY: And a wig similar to the one I now use.
    • EVENTS: Underwear, stockings, shoes?
    • RUDY: Yes, I had the whole works.
    • EVENTS: Padding. What do you call these?
    • RUDY: Tits, honey.
    • EVENTS: All right, so the very first time you put anything female on, it was a complete outfit. How did you feel?
    • RUDY: I could not walk. My make-up was terrible.
    • EVENTS: No, how did you feel when you had all this stuff on?
    • RUDY: Nervous.
    • EVENTS: Nervous? Why?
    • RUDY: Because I had never done it before, and I felt totally out of place when I went to the bar. All I wanted to do was run home and take it off. I just did not want to deal with it.
    • EVENTS: Was it sexually stimulating to you?
    • RUDY: No, not really. It was just something that I wanted to do and thought it was the time to do it.
    • EVENTS: What kind of people do you find that you attract when you are not in make-up, when you are a male?
    • RUDY: It is hard to say. I attract just about anything.
    • EVENTS: And what comes on to you right now, when you are dressed as a female?
    • RUDY: Right now I've had many offers, and I just can't do it. I have a relationship and we're going on four years. Sometime ago, we were just going to break it up, because he did not want me to do this anymore. It was very frustrating, and I left it for two months. People kept telling me, "Oh, you should do it - if he is not going to take you the way you are, then he is probably not worth it." I told him we needed to talk.
    • EVENTS: Is he older or younger than you?
    • RUDY: He is thirty years old.
    • EVENTS: So he is six years older. You talked, and what happened then?
    • RUDY: We talked, and I told him I was going to keep on doing it, and he could do whatever he wants. We are still together.
    • EVENTS: And how does your family feel about your impersonations?
    • RUDY: They don't know.
    • EVENTS: They don't know about it at all?
    • RUDY: I have a sister who knows. She came to visit me two years ago, when I first started doing it. It was in my heart to tell somebody. My sister stayed at my house, and naturally, I had everything there. Before she walked into the house, I told her that I had to talk to her and she was real open and she accepted me very well.
    • EVENTS: Did she know you were gay before?
    • RUDY: They sort of knew, but they didn't know. When I moved to Denver, I was going to get married. To a girl.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever been open about being gay with your family?
    • RUDY: I talked to my mom two years ago. No, actually it was just last year, and I told her, because I had plucked my eyebrows and she asked me. One conversation led to another, and she asked me. I said, "Yeah, I do, I live with a man, and we have been happy together for so long." I told her not to hate me for it. All I wanted was for her to love me and understand me in the same way. Out of the whole family, I think I have been the most supportive, and I think I have been the most helpful as far as when I was in the house doing the chores and working to keep the family going and having the things we always wanted to have and taking the trips we wanted to take. I have always been a great part of it. I just told her to remember everything I had done. I was very surprised that she did not say anything. She did not say anything at all. Finally, she said, "I wish you weren't, but there is nothing I can do."
    • EVENTS: She didn't tell your dad?
    • RUDY: No, he would hang me. That is one of the other reasons I moved from Texas to Denver.
    • EVENTS: To get away from your father?
    • RUDY: To get away from the family. I did not want them to know. I just wanted to make my own life here. One day I just wanted to be myself. I packed my bags and I just left, not knowing anyone here in Denver. I slept in my car for about a week. I found a job the next day I was here in Denver, and I have been moving up ever since. Now, I have my own house, furniture, my own car.
    • EVENTS: How big a part of your life is the impersonation? Does it play a part in your personal life or just professional?
    • RUDY: It is not as big as I want it to be. I don't want a twenty-four hour thing. I do this like once a week at the most. I would say once every two weeks. My goals are to do maybe some television and to do some professional shows in Las Vegas or Florida. Those are my goals.
    • EVENTS: You don't hang around the house with make-up on?
    • RUDY: Oh, ho. I do my sewing. I have my sewing machine and a mannequin. I do my own outfits and I design my own clothes. I'm not too thrilled about the gay community. I want the straight people to' know me. I want them to know what we are doing.
    • EVENTS: You want the straight people to know Rudy or Sasha?
    • RUDY: I want them to know both, because I feel that they are so close. I have straight friends who know me, and I've gone to straight bars like this.
    • EVENTS: What happens when you go to a straight bar like this and a straight guy comes up to you?' How do you handle it?
    • RUDY: I tell them up front what I am. I would not be able to tease a man and let him find out.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever had any disagreeable experiences when you were dressed as a woman?
    • RUDY: I got in a fight once. I had done a show and I was invited to a party. When we got to the party, it was about two o'clock in the morning already. I'd had a few drinks, but I was not drunk. This man kept bugging me.
    • EVENTS: Straight or gay?
    • RUDY: Gay. He was bigger than me. I was with some friends at that tme, and he wouldn't leave me alone.
    • EVENTS: He wanted to make out with you or he wanted to harass you?
    • RUDY: Once he knew he wasn't going to do anything with me, he started harassing me. He would come up to me and grab my butt, and I don't like that. I kept telling him, "Don't do that, please." And he kept telling me he wanted to put his lips on my hot lips and all this stuff. I told him, "No, I don't think so." He kept on and he was drunk. I told him, "Either you leave me alone or I'm going to kick your ass. I don't care if I have nails on - I don't care if I have a wig or pumps on-I just don't care." We went outside, and he went in back of me - he was going to put his arms around me, and I just had a quick reaction. I just gave him a good one to the back. I made him really mad, I guess, because he rushed me and he hit me. I can almost feel it still. He then threw me down. I got up and I closed my hands and all my nails broke. This is Super Glue and Super Glue just doesn't fall off that easily. When I closed my hands, everything broke, and I was pissed. I got him by the shirt and pushed him against the car and said, "You motherfucker, you are going to stop." I just gave him a good one in the face and he pulled my wig. At that time everyone was around. I had lost everything. I just didn't care. I was a fighter before, a gang fighter, so I told him, "Don't mess around with me, honey-don't do that kind of shit." The only way they could stop me was putting mace in my eyes - I couldn't see anything.
    • EVENTS: You said. you were part of a street gang when you were growing up. Nobody knew that you were gay?
    • RUDY: I was not gay at that time. I had gay feelings, but I had never been with anybody. When I finally accepted it and said, "That man is cute, honey, that man is cute" -that is when I knew it was me.
    • EVENTS: But you did not have any experiences before that?
    • RUDY: My childhood was really sad, I think. I had a cousin that molested me when I was growing up. I was like five or six. He was touching and he would ask my mom if I could stay over at their house. Once night came, he would come into my bed.
    • EVENTS: How old was he?
    • RUDY: He was like fifteen, sixteen. He always told me that nobody should know about this. I never told anybody till now. I don't know why I'm telling you.
    • EVENTS: So he is gay.
    • RUDY: He's gay, and he is married and has a little girl. When I was in school, one of my teachers ... it was the same thing. I told my mom I didn't want to go to school anymore. She asked me why and I never told her either. I was just .. . When I hear about it, it makes me cry, just because I look back and see all that I went through.
    • EVENTS: Did you feel as though you had done something wrong? You were guilty or something?
    • RUDY: Yes, and I had that with me all the time. I was raised that you don't have sex before marriage and you don't do those kinds of things. I felt terrible. That is probably one of the reasons I do drag.
    • EVENTS: To change?
    • RUDY: Because I can see myself in the mirror and I can see somebody else.
    • EVENTS: It's not the person that you were? The person who was unhappy?
    • RUDY: It's somebody different. Different personality.
    • EVENTS: Do you have a different personality when you do impersonations?
    • RUDY: Oh, definitely.
    • EVENTS: What would you be like tomorrow if you and your lover were to go to church? What is your personality like?
    • RUDY: I'm real straight. I don't act gay at all. Nobody would know I'm gay.
    • EVENTS: You don't have a feminine walk?
    • RUDY: I don't. I don't have a feminine walk, a feminine body. I hate shaving everyday.
    • EVENTS: You hate hair on your chest or you hate shaving?
    • RUDY: I hate shaving it. I don't shave my legs.
    • EVENTS: What about your friends? Do you have a lot of friends who are working as impersonators or do you try to stay away from that in your personal life?
    • RUDY: I know them, I don't associate with them. I'll talk to them and I'll lend them anything they want, and most of them will turn around and stab me in the back. I'm a very honest person and I make an honest living. I say things the way they are.
    • EVENTS: Sasha is a person you have created. Sasha is not a gay guy in drag. The others are gay guys in drag.
    • RUDY: They have the same walk when they are out of drag. I just hate it - I do. I don't think it should be that way. I tell them all the time, "Hey, you're a woman, honey, you act like one." Just be yourself.
    • EVENTS: I wonder if that is not part of it. Sasha is happy and obviously safe. Is Rudy?
    • RUDY: Sasha can talk to anybody. Very relaxed, and will talk to people that come up to her. Rudy can't do that. Rudy feels like people look, down on him. Sasha- people look up to her and I don't understand why. I record myself, I talk to myself, and I try to find out why.
    • EVENTS: You look down on yourself as Rudy? Is that why you feel other people do?
    • RUDY: It's probably that way. It has to be.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever considered a sex change?
    • RUDY: It hasn't crossed my mind. People have told me about it, and I feel God made you what you are and you don't have to change things. I wouldn't change anything. Maybe a nose job.
    • EVENTS: In the world of female impersonation, does the sex change happen very often?
    • RUDY: I have known several, and I know two that have taken their lives because they have been so unhappy with it. One in Texas, and I have a friend in California - she killed herself because it wasn't the way she thought it would be.
    • EVENTS: When did you begin to feel that maybe you liked guys?
    • RUDY: I felt attracted to me, not attracted to men. To me, I thought it was not normal to look at a man and see something other than just a man. That's been probably since I was ten years old, and I never had that in me to do anything with a man, due to the fact of what happened when I was younger. I have had two lovers. Only two people.
    • EVENTS: You have only been with two people sexually?
    • RUDY: Yes. My first lover's name was Chuck, and we were together for about eight months.
    • EVENTS: Were you nervous the first. time?
    • RUDY: I was at a bar, and he bought me a beer. I was very impressed by that, and he talked to me and was a very nice person. He invited me to his house, and I said, "No." He gave me his phone number and asked me to please call him. So I did. I was in Boulder at the time, and he lived near the airport. He drove back and forth every day for a whole month, just to see me. No sex. Then, after that, we went to the bar and went to the house-and God knows what happened then. After that I was working at Taco Bell - I started as a crew person. I worked my way up to manager in about a year. I was determined that I was not going to live like that anymore. I have always liked nice things. Nice jewelry.
    • EVENTS: How do you think you acquired that taste?
    • RUDY: I always wanted to be different and better. I will work long hours and go out of my way, just to achieve what I want.
    • EVENTS: Do people at work know anything about your personal life? Do they know you're gay or that you're an impersonator?
    • RUDY: No, they don't. It's none of their business. It's my life and I'll tell anybody who asks me; I won't hide it from anybody, but I won't go out and tell everyone. As a matter of fact, I have been in the restaurant business for five years and no one has ever asked me -even though I pluck my eyebrows and that's noticeable.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever been dressed as a woman and someone you knew from your other l1fe happened along? Has anyone ever recognized you?
    • RUDY: No, as a matter of fact, right now I have friends who know me as Rudy and they see me as Sasha, and they don't know it's me. I have friends who only know me as Sasha and they don't know Rudy. I won't tell them.
    • EVENTS: So you actually are living a life as Sasha?
    • RUDY: Yes. I don't plan to do this much longer. I plan to achieve my goal and step out.
    • EVENTS: Your goal is to make it in show business? And you really think if you made it in show business you would be able to walk away?
    • RUDY: See, that is Sasha's goal. As Rudy, I want to have my own Mexican restaurant. I would use Sasha to help Rudy build his own restaurant.
    • EVENTS: Sasha earns the money for Rudy to have a restaurant. Is that it?
    • RUDY: That is the way I have always thought about it. It sounds bad to use myself, but it has to be that way. I know if I went to Vegas, they are talking sixty, seventy thousand a year, and in Vegas you don't spend that much. Put it in your savings, work three or four years, and you will have money to build your own restaurant.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever tried to get a part in a show without telling anybody that you're a guy? Have you ever tried to pass as a woman in a situation like that?
    • RUDY: Once,- not a show, but I entered my picture in a fashion show in a department store. God knows how many pictures they got. Out of them, they were going to choose ten, and I was one of them. They called me on the phone and asked for Sasha, and I did not know who the hell they were. I said, "Sasha is not here at this time. This is her brother. May I take a message?" And this girl said, "This is so-and-so calling. I just want her to know that she was chosen to model for an ad." So I thought, "What am I going to do now?" I didn't do it, and now I regret that, because I should have done it. I modeled before, as a guy.
    • EVENTS: But this would have told you whether in fact you could pass.
    • RUDY: I've been to straight bars and I passed. I've gone to have dinner, and men just stare at me like, "This chick is hot and she knows it." I've gone to this straight bar. We went there, well dressed, sort of something like this. Sometimes these women put on more make-up than me, honey. I blend in very well.
    • EVENTS: What kind of educational background do you have?
    • RUDY: I have two years of college. I have an Associate in Accounting with modern computers, computer science. I have always wanted to pursue my career further, but I just don't have time. I work a lot of hours, and being a restaurant manager, I'm in charge of the whole thing, and I just don't have time for education. You learn a lot from other people. I try to pick up one thing here, another thing there. I tried going back to school. I went back to school for one semester, and, I was not doing it. I was working like fifty, seventy hours a week and going to school full time. I was sleeping like four hours a day for a whole semester. I was getting bags under my eyes, honey, and like there is not enough make-up in the world to cover up those bags, honey. The best education you can have is the one you can give yourself.
    • EVENTS: When you go shopping for make-up, who shops? Sasha or Rudy?
    • RUDY: Rudy shops for his sister. He gets embarrassed sometimes when he walks into a shoe store and thinks to himself, "She would look hot in that." I feel more comfortable when women attend me. When men are the ones there, I don't bother going in. I don't feel comfortable.
    • EVENTS: Why do you think that is?
    • RUDY: I just... I don't know. I feel that I'm not religious, but I know the Bible and I accept the fact that I'm gay. If God would ever have wanted me to be straight, he would've made me straight. Somehow, it doesn't fit what the Bible says. I just don't know. That is probably one of the reasons I was always so very frustrated. I was taught that being gay is wrong, and according to the Bible, it is.
    • EVENTS: You came from a Catholic family?
    • RUDY: Yeah. I don't believe in the Catholic religion.
    • EVENTS: Some of it rubbed off, obviously. So Rudy buys shoes for Sasha?
    • RUDY: And he buys jewelry. I don't do shopping, except for wigs. I buy those, and I either cut them or I do something different with them. I always have to do something with them.
    • EVENTS: You don't try them on in the store?
    • RUDY: On, no, I'll just buy them. I have wigs that I haven't even worn yet, 'cause I don't like them.
    • EVENTS: Is it illegal to walk the street in women's clothes?
    • RUDY: In Denver, I'm not sure. I don't think it is illegal, and I'll tell you why. I had an experience once. I had a ticket that I did not pay. I was at the Village Inn having breakfast after the show, and my friend got into a fight, and the cops came. Then they asked me for my I. D., and I showed them my I. D. , and then they did some research and found out that I did not pay a ticket, so they took me to jail.
    • EVENTS: In women's clothes?
    • RUDY: Exactly, honey. I was afraid: What were they going to do to me? I had never been in jail before. I had never been involved with any kind of police - never. They took me to jail. When I was there, they took my fingerprints and my picture - and they took all my jewelry off. I had a necklace on, and the police took my necklace off.
    • EVENTS: Your wig, did they take a picture of you with your wig on?
    • RUDY: Yes. He was the nicest cop, and then when my husband bailed me out, right before I left, the cop goes, "I just hope I don't see you like that on the streets, 'cause I'm just going to want to pick you up and take you with me." I was wrecked!
    • EVENTS: I have a very personal question to ask. You're dressed in women's clothes. You obviously have women's pantyhose on. Do you have any other undergarments on?
    • RUDY: I have underwear on. A bikini type underwear, honey, and I tuck, and I put it between my butt.
    • EVENTS: That's comfortable?
    • RUDY: No, it's not. Right now, sitting down, it's killing me. That is the price you have to pay. You just can't show anything.
    • EVENTS: You did say you make all your own clothes, right?
    • RUDY: I make most of them. Some I buy. I'll go to a department store. It's uncomfortable sometimes, because of the women and the men - they just stare at you, like, "What the fuck is he doing here?"
    • EVENTS: Do you try things on in the store?
    • RUDY: No, I take them home. I know my size. I fit in a six, an eight, a nine. If I see something that I really like and it's a size twelve, I'll buy it. I'll just take it in.
    • EVENTS: Your boyfriend knows what your aspirations are. Does he want to be there four years down the line, when you have the restaurant?
    • RUDY: For some reason, I don't see us lasting too much longer. It turns him off.
    • EVENTS: Sasha turns him off?
    • RUDY: Yeah. Turns him off, and then Rudy ends up turning him off, because he's shaved his chest. It's not working out. He loves me a lot, and I love him a lot but . . . I don't know.
    • EVENTS: Is it Sasha that turns him off or is it the fact that Rudy becomes Sasha?
    • RUDY: It's the fact that I do this. It's the fact that I go out of the house and it's all night, and you know. . . I've seen so many changes in him. He was the type of person that would stay home. Now, he'll go out and won't come home till all hours of the morning, and the whole thing has changed. It's changed. It's changing, and I just don't know. . . I don't see us lasting too much longer. It's terrible. I just told him already that I have goals that I want to pursue, and I'm going to achieve them. I'm going to do everything in my power to accomplish what I have set. I feel that I have to think of myself sometimes, and it's always been, "What is Mike going to say? What does he think? What does he want to do?" Like with him - I know everything about him. I know what he likes, I know what he dislikes, I know his past, and he doesn't even know that I know his past. He doesn't know what I like. He doesn't know everything that makes me mad. I could get him mad in no time at all, 'cause I know what gets him mad. I know so much about the man, and he knows so little about me.
    • EVENTS: Sexually, are you compatible?
    • RUDY: Well, my first lover, he was the type of person ... he wanted sex. Everyday we would have it. It's frustrating now, because Mike is the type of person that will go three weeks without having sex. With Mike, I've only done it twice.
    • EVENTS: In two years?
    • RUDY: Four years. Twice.
    • EVENTS: If you and Mike split up, will you look for another lover, rather than playing the field? You seem to like the one-on-one relationship.
    • RUDY: I won't look for nobody. I actually wish sometimes things were over. Then I can just spend time with myself. I need to do the things that I want to do. I want to spend time sewing. I just want to do things that I want to do.
    • EVENTS: What would you do about a sex drive?
    • RUDY: I don't know. I already got used to not having anything. I don't know. If something came up, my doors will be open. As far as looking ... I won't. It would have to be somebody who knows me as Rudy first. Then, that also likes Sasha. I just won't take anybody. It would have to be with certain conditions, and I'm not stopping doing this. I just can't do it. I've tried and I just can't do it.
    • EVENTS: You tried "killing" Sasha?
    • RUDY: Yes.
    • EVENTS: You missed her?
    • RUDY: Well, I did. I missed Sasha, and I still continued to sew and stuff, but I did not put make-up on. I kept her up about her shoes and about her dresses, and I sewed her dresses and I bought make-up. I tried, though - I tried because of my husband. I've done a lot of things for him. He's very athletic. I smoke only when I drink, and I smoke heavily - and I just stopped for him. I've done a lot of things for him. It just doesn't seem that he realizes it. I don't care. If he wants it that way, it's fine. I'm easygoing.
    • EVENTS: What type of person do you need?
    • RUDY: White men, honey. I like white men.
    • EVENTS: You don't consider yourself white?
    • RUDY: Well, when I write in an application, I write white. Most of the people out there see me as Hispanic.
    • EVENTS: Okay, so you like white guys. Blond, brunets, tall, short, skinny?
    • RUDY: Blond, honey ~ very blond. Men with ~ they have to have a lot of class. They have to know how to dress. When I first met Mike, that poor white boy did not know how to dress, honey. He did not. We bought him a whole wardrobe, and I threw all his clothes away. I feel I can say I made him what he is now. He looks good now ~ sure does. He did not know how to dress. That is the first thing that strikes me: if you are well dressed.
    • EVENTS: Would you like your family to know that you're gay? Would you like to be more open?
    • RUDY: That's a hard question. I've gone to see my relatives, and I've wished they just would know. If they accept me, they accept me. If they don't, fuck them. Sometimes, I really don't care actually. If they know, fine ~ if they don't know, fine. They haven't asked me. If they ask me, I'll tell them.
    • EVENTS: Do you occasionally go home to visit in Texas?
    • RUDY: Oh, yes.
    • EVENTS: You go home as Rudy and everything is cool?
    • RUDY: I take some drag with me. Usually when I go to Texas, I'll have a show in Texas. I'll take my drag with me.
    • EVENTS: No one has ever discovered?
    • RUDY: Oh yeah. My little brother. He is just a little bitch. I had all my wigs, and he opened the trunk and I just got red. I just said, "What the fuck are you doing in my car?" And he just took off. He actually knows better than to go into my things. Everybody knows better than to go into my things. I just don't let it happen.
    • EVENTS: Do you think you might tell them some day?
    • RUDY: Oh yeah, definitely. This last time that I went, I wanted to tell. Well, my mom knows already and my sister knows, but I want to tell my other sisters. I just wanted to tell them. I just don't have the guts, though, 'cause they talk very bad about gay people. They're not open at all. I have a feeling they will accept me, because I'm part of the family, but it wouldn't be a good scene for a while. When I told my mom, I said, "You have nothing to do with it - it's just me." If it were in my hands to change, I'd probably go straight, but it's not in my hands to change. I can't change how I feel inside. You are what you are, because that's the way you are. You cannot change what you feel inside. That's what I told my mom. My mom is very strict. We could not answer back or I'd have a slap in the face. We always had a curfew and she was strict to the bone. If you ever saw strict, you'd know what I'm talking about. Manners at the table, everything. Now, I told my mom, the last Mother's Day, I told her I really appreciated the way she brought me up because now I'm doing what I'm doing and I've come a long way.
    • EVENTS: Have you ever slept with a girl?
    • RUDY: No, mainly because I was brought up that you don't have sex till you're married. That's one of the reasons I was going to marry.
    • EVENTS: You were in love with the girl?
    • RUDY: Yeah, I was. The reason we didn't marry - we had split up, well, voluntarily. We said we were going to wait, and she found somebody else, and that was it. I couldn't deal with it, couldn't deal with it.
    • EVENTS: What couldn't you deal with?
    • RUDY: With the fact that the woman I loved had found somebody else and did not want to marry me anymore. It just made the whole thing worse. At that time I did not know if I wanted girls anymore or if I only wanted guys. I went for a whole year - I did not go out with anybody. No men, no women. I saw a man and I was like: "God, he is a hunk." Then I would see a woman and say: "She is so beautiful."
    • EVENTS: You couldn't have sex with a girl before you married, but you have had sex with a man outside of a marriage. How does that work out in your mind?
    • RUDY: 'Cause now I'm doing what I want to do. I want to do what I feel. I want to do what comes from in me. You see, I'll take you back to when I was talking about the other impersonators and myself. They will do a number and they'll just do it. I have to feel my numbers. I've cried when I've done a number. I have actually cried in front of the audience, and I've had half of the audience cry with me. That's wonderful. That is an art. That is why I am so different from them. We're the same, but we're not the same. When they call me a drag queen, I'll say, "Excuse me, honey-I am not a drag queen." And they'll say, "Everyone is a drag queen, honey." And I say, "Not me." I don't consider myself that.
    • EVENTS: Why do you dress as a woman?
    • RUDY: 'Cause I appreciate when I look good. I don't get enough, and that is one of the main reasons that I do it. I never get enough.
    • EVENTS: You love it.
    • RUDY: That is what makes my heart tick. That is what makes me continue life right now. It's just... you know. . . Sasha loves it. In her eyes, she's the hottest thing, she is. In my eyes.
    • EVENTS: Could we talk a little bit about your father? You did say that your father would hang you, if he found out about you.
    • RUDY: Basically, because my dad and I never had a dad-to-son relationship. We never had it, and I just missed it. Every time, when you're watching TV or a movie, and there is a dad hugging his son, I cry. I cry because I missed that. I missed it so much, I always did. Now I'll talk to my dad and I'll try to tell him. I just can't, though. He was never there.
    • EVENTS: Is this something that your brothers had that you didn't have, or none of you had it?
    • RUDY: No, my oldest brother is very close to my dad, and my younger brother is pretty close to my dad, too. It's just me. I always kept wondering why. What did I do?
    • EVENTS: Did you ever ask him?
    • RUDY: We never talked. We never talked. I was living at home, and my dad and I did not talk. I was in basketball, and he would never go to my basketball games, never go to track - and he would always go to my brothers'. I was like: "What the fuck did I do?" -you know?
    • EVENTS: Don't take it personally. You may not have done anything. It may be some other reason that has absolutely nothing to do with you as Rudy.
    • RUDY: Now I say I don't care.
    • EVENTS: Of course, you do.
    • RUDY: I think that it's his problem. Now, actually, we talk.
    • EVENTS: Did you ever ask your mom why your dad doesn't talk to you or anything like that?
    • RUDY: No because ... Personally, I don't think she saw that. I don't know. I don't know why I jumped into that, anyway.
    • EVENTS: You jumped into that because it's part of who you are and that's really what we're talking about: who you are.
    • RUDY: I know and I thank you. I really do. It's just different. That is one of the other reasons that I moved. I just couldn't live at home anymore. Everything I did was bad, not good. I don't know, I don't usually picture a gay person with his dad. I don't. It doesn't fit in my mind. I always see a straight little boy with his dad playing. It's in my mind. I know it happens that there are straight guys that do a lot with their dad. (A pause.) Now, I think, shit happens. Now I'm trying to make the most out of my life - I just don't deal with that. I try not to think about it. I don't think about it except when I'm by myself ... I'm not going to cry. I'm doing a lot of wonderful things for my life now.
    • EVENTS: I think you've bounced back pretty good.
    • RUDY: Oh, yes. I feel better than ever-basically, because I've more at age twenty-four than my cousins and everybody have, and they're thirty. I really have. I just didn't let anything get in my way anymore. I can't afford it If I have to push somebody, I'll push that person to be there in front. If I have to pull somebody to get them out on the stage, I'll pull them. No, I'm more professional than that.
    • EVENTS: Sasha, do you have a photo of yourself as a man?
    • RUDY: My driver's license is terrible, but this is my driver's license sometime ago. About four years ago. That is a very bad picture of me - it really is.
    • EVENTS: A very good-looking man.
    • RUDY: Make-up does wonders, huh? I see some of those people in drag. Just by the way they act, honey, you know that they are the same out of drag. Their faces might change but their moves don't. I like to express my feelings through my eyes. I like to project what I feel. I have a song that all I do is lie like this, and I'm doing the song, and people are so thrilled. I'm just like this, and it's a very sexy song. You're talking with the audience. You are-you're just telling the audience what you want through your eyes. And they are just so thrilled. I've probably gotten the most tips through a song like that, than to move and dance and do whatever.
    • EVENTS: We want to thank you for being so candid with us. I feel as though we've been sitting here having a conversation with a friend.
    • RUDY: Me, too. I told you things that I've never told anybody, and some of the things I've never thought about. That's good, because now I know more about myself and what I did. That's great-I love it.
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    Transcript of the above article

    A Message From The Editor

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell,

    Fallon W is a small farming and ranching town in Nevada about 50 miles east of Reno.

    The Shame of Fallon

    By Lou Thomas

    Did I imagine it or did shouts of "Save us, Jesus!" ring out through the dusty streets and alleys of this little Nevada town, normally found peacefully sleeping in the noonday sun? What terrible pestilence was about to befall the righteous citizens of Fallon? Why - those big, bad gay cowboys was a-comin' to have a rodeo right here! And they was gonna bring in AIDS and give it to all them fine, upstanding rednecks! Imagine that!

    And so, on Wednesday, October 19, 1988, at approximately 12:20 PM, two deputies from the Churchill County Sheriff's office arrived at Lantry's Ranch on Union Lane to present David Lantry, proprietor of the site which was to locate the International Gay Rodeo Association's 1988 finals, with papers ordering him to show cause why a temporary restraining order should not be issued, enjoining him from permitting the rodeo to take place. Mr. Lantry was ordered to appear in court in Fallon at 3:00 PM, some two-and-one-half hours later, to reply.

    Promptly at 3:00 PM, Lantry appeared before Judge Archie Blake to explain that the IGRA lawyers, Rod Sumpter and Mark Wicker, located in Reno, had not had sufficient notice and were unable to make the sixty-mile journey to Fallon by the specified time. The judge, over the furious objections of petulant district attorney Kevin Pasquale, postponed the hearing until ten o'clock the following morning. Pasquale swore to the media that if the courts did not grant his restraining order, he would himself see that the rodeo did not take place in Fallon.

    The hearing began at ten o'clock the following morning and lasted until 2:15 PM. Most of that time was spent in the badgering of Lester Krambeal, president of the Silver State Gay Rodeo Association, the host group to the IGRA finals. Finally, a packed courtroom listened intently as Judge Blake solemnly pronounced that, based on a string of technicalities, he had found in favor of the D.A. Within minutes, Krambeal, Lantry, their attorneys and various reporters were en route to Carson City, about an hour away, where the Nevada Supreme Court had been notified that they would be requested to hear an appeal of the case that very day. Unfortunately, that august body (one member of which required a definition of "gay pride") was not able to see a transcript of the trial which had taken place just that morning and so apparently felt constrained to find in favor of Churchill County.

    And so it was that the 1988 Rodeo Finals of the IGRA were not permitted to take place. Bigotry had once again reared its ugly head in redneck country. Repression was once again allowed to hold sway in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    The shame of Fallon, unfortunately, is not exclusive to that unhappy town. Religious and political groups all over the country have seized upon the AIDS epidemic as a pallid excuse to justify persecution of homosexuals. And that is the real tragedy.


    I Say There Will Be Confrontation

    Interview with D.A. Kevin Pasquale of Churchill County, Nevada

    (The following dialogue took place on Tuesday, October 18, 1988 on the courthouse steps of Fallon, Nevada between FirstHand Events and Churchill County District Attorney Kevin Pasquale.)

  • EVENTS: Just what are you going to do? You said something about serving papers to somebody. Who and what?

    Pasquale: Well, the first step we have to take is there has been an emergency meeting called of the Board of Commissioners of Churchill County. The meeting has been set for tomorrow morning at ten AM, and at that meeting it will be requested that we be allowed to file a lawsuit, a nuisance complaint based on the types of things we talked about, like public safety and other considerations. Based on that complaint, we'll seek a temporary restraining order to prohibit any gay rodeos in this county. (emphasis ours)

  • EVENTS: So you say, based on moral laws.

    Pasquale: What we are talking about is moral public safety. General language statutes give us more than our county ordinances, as in N.R.S. (Nevada Revised Statutes).

  • EVENTS: You sound really confident. "Don't worry, everybody. We're not going to have this rodeo." What makes you so confident?

    Pasquale: Well, I don't know that that was what I was saying. What I'm saying is that we are going to lay this in front of a judge and let a judge make a decision; that we basically understand our position as a county and of the needs that we feel have not been met by this organization. I feel very confident.

  • EVENTS: You won't tell me what the law is?

    Pasquale: No, thank you!

  • EVENTS: Tell me briefly what are the concerns. Noise, dust...?

    Pasquale: Certainly the concerns that you heard from residents, like noise, dust, those type pollutants. But I think more important is just the fact we don't know how many people are going to be here. The type of problem it is going to raise for traffic control, for law enforcement. (According to rodeo organizers, the local sheriff stated he was prepared and anticipated no problems. Ed.) Have they made any arrangements at all for sanitary facilities, drinking water? (Again, the organizers assured us that sanitary facilities had been ordered and drinking water was available on the site. Ed.) Those are vital concerns regardless...whether or not it is held on private property or public.

  • EVENTS: One other thing. You said you got phone calls that if this did happen, people of Churchill County will do a mob action if the gay rodeo does happen.

    Pasquale: Well, no. Not necessarily. My office has not received any of these types of phone calls or threats. But, beleive me, my phone has been ringing off the hook ever since these rumors of the gay rodeo started. It is my understanding that the sheriff has been receiving those kinds of phone calls that differ slightly from mine.

  • EVENTS: Which are?

    Pasquale: I think I'd rather let the sheriff tell you.

  • EVENTS: You know, we are really curious about just what is happening here.

    Pasquale: That is just it. We don't know if there is a legitimate business enterprise that wants to come in, follow the law, follow the rules. Instead, apparently - and I stress the word apparently - they have gone around us. "To hell with you. We're not going to use your public facilities. We'll find a private facility and we'll do it there." But the thing of it is, those concerns don't go away. Now, we are not talking about property that Churchill County owns - we are talking about property that is individually owned. But the concerns are the same. Will there be adequate protection? Is there going to be fire safety? Will there be sanitation facilities? Are these needs going to be met? What's the effect going to be downtown, with the Chamber of Commerce of Fallon. We just don't know.

  • EVENTS: We were just out at the rodeo grounds, and the sheriff was there asking questions like "Has your security been set up?" and the sheriff had already approved the security and the security company. The owner, Mr. Lantry,said he would have no problem if only the words "rodeo event" had been used without the word "gay," because he has been having rodeo events there for years. Do you think,. as the District Attorney of Churchill County, if the word "gay" was not in front of this rodeo event, would it make a difference?

    Pasquale: As far as out in the public, yes. It is going to make a difference. I think that when we looked a the liquor board meeting today, I've never seen a liquor board meeting anything like that. Generally, they are scheduled for five minutes or less, and it's over. I think it made a difference as far as the public was concerned.

  • EVENTS: Now, about the safety, what is that about?

    Pasquale: I think there are greater risks when you associate the word "gay."

  • EVENTS: Why?

    Pasquale: I think your observations are as good as mine on that. You saw the people in the courtroom. Right or wrong. I'm saying there's a greater risk of confrontation, and I don't think that needs to be said.

  • EVENTS: In other words, people in the area have not heard about safe sex?

    Pasquale: That is not what I'm saying at all. I think there is a greater risk of confrontation. Right or wrong.

  • EVENTS: What happened today about the liquor license? Was it shelved or...?

    Pasquale: Liquor license were denied by the board.

  • EVENTS: The board? You mean the state of Nevada?

    Pasquale: No, county. Board of Churchill County.

  • EVENTS: Do you expect the town's people to start violence?

    Pasquale: I say there will be confrontation.

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    Cowgirl

    OCR Transcript by Frank Harrell, Apr 12, 2013

    Joyce Myers Speaks out

    At the age of forty-six, Joyce Myers was probably the oldest cowgirl at the Denver rodeo. But don't kid yourself that this was a handicap. This little lady looked better than some of the gals half her age. Her first competition in a gay rodeo was in Texas in 1984, when she won the barrels award. She repeated this feat in 1985 and in 1986 she became the IGRA barrel racing champion. Indeed, the barrels seem to be her specialty, though she is equally adept at several other events such as goat decorating and pole bending. In her own words:

    "I love barrels. I've had a lot of accidents in my younger years. I've fractured my skull, my spine. I've had two surgeries on my left leg." "I thought I'd never ride again when I was forty-four years old. I came back riding and winning. I got tougher. The older I get the more determined I get!"

    "You gatta make a horse bend to go around any object. A lot of people think you can just go around. You gotta teach them how to bend and know how to rein hem."

    "There is nothing I cannot do. I can learn anything if I put my head to it."

    "When I dress up I want to look like a lady. I'm a lady around straight people. I'm me and I believe in me."

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