The 1994 IGRA Finals Rodeo is dedicated to those among us that are living with AIDS, cancer, and other medical problems.
It is these people that we salute!
"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbles, nor where the doer of deeds could have done them better. On the contrary, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arenas - whose vision is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up again and again; who knows the great devotions, the great enthusiasms; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. However, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
"Greg Olson is the gay Marlboro Man - a calf roping, bull riding, Phoenix cowboy who has won the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) All-Around Champion Cowboy award for the past three years."
That opening paragraph, from a January 1990 interview with Greg in the Advocate, still stands true today ... with one update. Since that time, Greg has added four more IGRA All Around award buckles to his collection, making him the winner of EVERY IGRA Finals Rodeo since its inception. Along the way, Greg has earned dozens of individual rodeo All-Around Cowboy buckles, event buckles, and literally hundreds of event ribbons, making him the most winning cowboy in the history of IGRA.
While previous Finals Rodeos have honored those behind-the-scenes people who help keep gay rodeo going and expanding, this year we choose to honor a person who gives us one of our reasons for having gay rodeos in the first place.
Greg was seemingly bon for gay rodeo, or perhaps the opposite is true, maybe gay rodeo was bon for people like Greg. Sprouting up from the Midwestern town of Erickson, Nebraska (pop. 130), Greg lived the "country lifestyle" working on his family's farm and ranch. While comfortable in this environment, Greg always seemed to know he was "different" somehow. He accompanied his family to many local rodeos over the years and watched his brothers compete, but never competed himself, telling writer Allen Kalchik in a RoundUp magazine interview earlier this year that "I remember thinking, 'Oh, that's WAY to scary for me!'."
Perhaps it was the environment that was "way too scary" and not the arena events, as Greg would soon discover gay rodeo, and begin to change.
A visit to the Reno Rodeo in the mid-80s got his interest up enough to visit Arizona's first gay rodeo in 1986. While there, a friend talked him into helping him out as a contestant in a "camp" event. It was then that Greg's country lifestyle merged with his gay orientation. Within a matter of weeks he had moved to Arizona, begun working at Charlie's Phoenix, a gay Country/Western bar, acquired the nickname "Sheena", joined the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (AGRA), and started his years of gay rodeo competition.
These days, as Greg starts to slow down in the arena and make room for the up and coming crop of contestants, many of whom he has helped bring into the IGRA circuit, he is increasingly looked upon as the ideal of what gay rodeo is all about.
Greg is the gay Marlboro Man. That cute little cowboy, stuffed into those 27 -inch waist Wranglers, has those solid, decent, Midwestern values and abilities coupled with that that special "gay" sense of humor and style that personifies the IGRA family.
We honor Greg this weekend, not just for his winning ways in the arena, but also for his winning style outside the arena.
Greg in our Hall of Fame