April 18, 1949 -
First attended a gay rodeo in 1980
Roger Bergmann was born and raised in Kalispell, Montana. He lived in town, and only rode a horse a few times while growing up. Though his parents did not like to go to the annual county fair, from the age of nine, Roger would ride his bike several miles each day to get to the fair and would stay until the carnival shut down late at night. During the day he would wander through the livestock barns and watch the judging of the 4-H animals. At night he would sit in the grandstand and watch the Northwest Montana Rodeo. By the age of twelve Roger had learned how to sneak across the racetrack to get behind the holding pens, and was helping to sort the numbered calves into the roping box. During these early years, and on through high school and college, Roger was trying to second-guess the judges on what score the riders would receive.
After high school, Roger spent his summers working on a registered Polled Hereford cattle ranch. His first summer all he did was work in the fields loading bales of hay onto the trucks. The next three summers Roger operated the swather, cutting hay for ten-hour days. In the evening, he spent another two hours grooming twelve head of cattle, getting them ready to go to various cattle shows across the western U.S. After graduating from college, Roger went back to work on the ranch for one last summer, and through the fall he drove the show cattle to several shows, including the Portland Pacific International and the Grand National at the San Francisco Cow Palace.
In January 1972, Roger moved from Montana to Bishop, California where he worked for several years in the California Division of Forestry's Ecology Corps. Most of his time was spent on public works projects, such as trail and campground construction, but the first priority was fighting wildland fires. Through this work, Roger made some connections with U.S. Forest Service employees and he began his career in 1975, starting as a summer seasonal employee doing trail construction, and eventually retiring as a Mechanical Engineering Technician from the San Dimas Technology and Development Center.
After struggling for many years over the "possibility" that he was gay, Roger entered his first gay bar in 1980. He immediately knew that it was not a possibility; it was definite!! In June 1980, Roger attended the 5th annual Reno National Gay Rodeo, and in June 1981 he discovered the "Nu-Town Saloon" on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood where he quickly became "Hooked on Country!" Several years later, Roger met Al Bell (also in the IGRA Hall of Fame) at the Reno National Gay Rodeo, and soon Roger was dancing at "Floyd's Bar" in Long Beach, and was signed up as a Charter Member of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA).
At the 1987 "L.A. Rodeo" the IGRA was beginning to certify its own rodeo judges, and Roger was quick to sign-on. He attended Student Judging under the watchful guidance of Ms. Casey Jackson at the Los Angeles, Denver, and Oklahoma City rodeos and was the second judge certified through the program. Roger judged his first rodeo at the 1987 Texas Gay Rodeo, which was held in Dallas. As a judge at the 1988 Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo in Denver he broke his arm diving over the fence to escape an angry bull. In 16+ years of judging Roger officiated at over 100 IGRA rodeos.
When he was not judging rodeos, Roger competed at a number of rodeos around the IGRA circuit, including: Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He never won a buckle, but took home a few ribbons while competing in Chute Dogging, Steer Riding, Goat Dressing, Steer Decorating, and the Wild Drag Race. Roger was able to finally take home a buckle when he and his dance partner became the 2004 IGRA Division 3 Dance Finals Champions.
Prior to his entry into the IGRA Hall of Fame, Rogers' greatest achievement was when he was elected President of the IGRA for the 1993 rodeo year, and then re-elected in 1994 and 1995. He has great pride in the friendships he made during those years, and the wonderful accomplishments that were made by IGRA and all of the Member Associations. Roger was honored as Grand Marshall of the 1995 IGRA Finals Rodeo, and realizes that his time as President was successful because of the hard work and dedication of the IGRA Administrative Assistant, Patrick Terry; and all of the Officers, Trustees, Committee Chairs, Royalty, rodeo production staffs, contestants, volunteers, and sponsors.