(top photo) More than 70 competitors took part in the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association's 20th Annual Zia Regional Rodeo - a two-day event with a healthy mix of classic rodeo excitement and a few less-than-traditional 'camp' competitions that add a unique flavor. Photos BY NATALIE GUILLEN/THE NEW MEXICAN
(above photo) Kirk Carter, left, and David Renier participate in the 'Wild Drag' event at the 20th annual Zia Regional Rodeo at Rodeo de Santa Fe. Carter was dressed in drag while riding the steer and Renier tried to control the steer. Rodeo events will continue Sunday from 10 a'.m. to 4p.m.
Despite evening showers, hundreds flock to first gay rodeo held in Santa Fe
By Geoff Grammer
The New Mexican
A Hollywood movie star probably couldn't have mustered up a more classic rodeo response than Will Lann did Saturday afternoon.
Shortly after two paramedics finished tending to the large gash next to Lann's right eye socket - a wound opened up when he slammed face-frrst into the hom of a 1-ton bull at the Rodeo de Santa Fe arena - he was advised that he might want to go to the hospital for stitches and some pain medication.
"Naa, I've got some good whiskey," the 48-year-old Arizona cowboy said.
Besides, he wasn't done competing.
Lann is one of more than 70 competitors taking part this weekend in the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association's 20th annual Zia Regional Rodeo - a two-day event with a healthy mix of classic rodeo excitement and a few less-than-traditional "camp" competitions that add a unique flavor.
It's the first time the event has been held in Santa Fe, and organizers say they hope it won't be the last.
"We think there is a great fit here in Santa Fe," said Michael Kaplan, the rodeo's grand marshal. we'd like this weekend to go well enough for everyone to want us to come back next year,"
The event was held in Albuquerque for 19 years.
Local dignitaries such as District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco and City Councilor Patti Bushee volunteered to help at the rodeo grounds - Bushee was even victim of a rodeo clown prank at one point. Mayor David Coss gave his stamp of approval in a welcoming letter printed on the first page of the rodeo program.
Even with afternoon showers and some too-close-for comfort lightning bolts, attendance at Saturday's daylong festivities never dropped below a few hundred fans and competitors.
"After we pay the bills," Kaplan said, all proceeds will go to one of four charities: New Mexico AIDS Service, Horses for Heroes, Southwest Care Service and the YWCA.
The rodeo concludes Sunday with another full day of competition, culminating with an awards ceremony at 8 p.m.
While neither Kaplan nor Lann, more fondly known around the International Gay Rodeo Association circuit as 'Wilma," would suggest the skill set on display this weekend is on par with the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, both insist there is some great competition to enjoy.
"There is some real rodeo going on out here," said Lann, who has been competing in rodeos for 30 years, although mostly on roping events and very little bull riding.
The Zia Regional Rodeo is one of 19 rodeos in the association circuit where competitors who ganer enough points throughout the year earn invites to the association's World Finals Rodeo.
David Copher, another three-decade veteran of rodeo, participated Saturday in his first ever gay-rodeo event. "I've been around the rodeo a long time and there are some real competitors out here," said Copher, who has been a key part of the Rodeo de Santa Fe for years.
But this isn't just your run-of-the-mill rodeo.
Steer decorating, goat dressing and wild drag racing provide a bit of comic relief.
"We try to expose the gay community to the Western lifestyle, and that's what really started this whole circuit," Kaplan said.
In addition to the rodeo scene, there were also camera crews hovering around the rodeo grounds on Saturday. Not only is a documentary film crew chronicling the association's circuit, but scenes for the film, The Real Cowboys, were being shot throughout the day. The comedy features two down-on-their-luck straight rodeo cowboys who come up with the idea to pose as partners in an effort to rake in winnings on the gay-rodeo circuit.
As described on the movie's website, www.therealcowboys-movie.com, the two cowboys "fmd out there is much more to being a Real Cowboy than dressing in drag."
And the bullriding can still leave its mark.