Gay Rodeo has its roots in the 1970s, when then-Emperor of Reno Nevada, Phil Ragsdale, of the Imperial Court System, organized the first gay rodeo to take place in 1976, as a means to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
From these early beginnings, increasing interest was generated for the creation of other regional gay rodeos, and by 1985, the five existing regional gay rodeos in the USA held a convention, which resulted in the formation of the Intemational Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). IGRA now has 28 member associations, representing numerous states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces, with a membership of 4,000 people.
The Central Canada Gay Rodeo Association, CCGRA, (featured on our cover), was represented at the recent International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association annual convention and tradeshow in Toronto, with guest attendees from IGRA, there to promote the upcoming Nov. 11-15, 2009 IGRA Silver Anniversary Convention, taking place in downtown Toronto.
With the assistance of Tourism Toronto, the CCGRA presented a successful bid to host the conference, which will bring delegates from all over the continent, for a full schedule of committee meetings, Royalty competition, the annual AGM, and Saturday night Gala "The Brokeback Saloon."
Founded in 1996, the CCGRA, as a registered not-for-profit association, has selected CODRP (Central Ontario Developmental Riding Program), as a chosen charity to which to donate the association's profits. This therapeutic horseback-riding program is based in Kitchener/Waterloo, to teach developmentally handicapped kids to ride, care for, and appreciate horses.
To quote the CCGRA, "The role our organization will continue to serve in our fourth year, is to offer everyone fellowship in social, recreational, educational, and sporting events that promote the country western lifestyle in a positive light, for both rural and urban gay men and lesbians. The main goal is, of course, to organize and host our own rodeo but, in the meantime offer a safe, fun environment for GBLT horse enthusiasts, rodeo competitors, country music fans, rural/outdoor-minded folks, and those just hot for cowboys to feel welcome. We have a membership of 90 people from across Ontario, with some from Quebec, and across the Great Lakes in the USA."
In Western Canada, the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association, ARGRA, is a not-for-profit association that was founded in 1991. As IGRA members, and now with 400 members of their own, they are the largest single gay rodeo association in the world. Their annual extravaganza, The Canadian Rockies International Rodeo (CRIR), has been an IGRA sanctioned event since 1994, and expects 4,000 attendees to join them in 2009.