November 9, 1955 -
First attended a gay rodeo in 1985
Tommy Channel was born in Cushing, Texas; a very small town about 2 hours east of Dallas. Born in 1955 to Betty and Tom Jack, he has two older sisters, Judy and Pam. "Thank you, sisters, for not killing me as a child. I know that as I grew up little Tommy was not easy to live with."
After graduating from high school and Massey Business College, Tommy moved to Houston in the mid 70's where the "Brazos River Bottom" was his favorite hang-out. It was there he heard about an event called Gay Rodeo. This was something that was of particular interest, so he attended the first Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) rodeo in Simonton, Texas in November, 1984. Believe it or not he didn't know a single competitor that day, but he does remember John Beck and Wild Cow Milking. That was just the beginning of a long, long relationship with the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA).
Tommy moved to Denver in the summer of 1985, and quickly found "Charlie's Bar," Wayne Jakino (Charlie's Manager and IGRA Founding President), and Tommy's significant other, David Hill. That was 32 years ago and Tommy is still in Denver with David.
Tommy joined the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association (CGRA) very quickly in 1985, and so began his long history with CGRA. Tommy served on the CGRA Board of Directors, first as Membership Chair; followed by Treasurer, Trustee to IGRA, Rodeo Director, Fundraising Chair and finally Tommy served two terms as President of CGRA. Tommy is still involved with CGRA and thanks all of CGRA for the many friends it has given him.
During the early years with CGRA Tommy had a horse named Sassy, and he has a few buckles that she helped him win. Tommy competed with his horse for many years, but finally decided it was time to join the ranks of the many who enjoy producing and directing these events we love so much. Tommy started working in the arena as an Assistant Arena Director and set-up coordinator with greats like Casey Jackson, Jeanne McLeod, Charles Merritt and Kim Dawson. After being Rodeo Director for several successful Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeos in Denver, Tommy had the privilege of serving as IGRA's "World Gay Rodeo Finals" Rodeo Director twice; 1996 in Reno, Nevada and in Dallas/Ft. Worth celebrating the 25th anniversary of IGRA's "World Gay Rodeo Finals" in 2011. The following year Tommy was the Committee Chair for the World Gay Rodeo Finals.
If all that was not enough, Tommy was named Mr. CGRA in 1995, and followed that title with Mr. IGRA 1996 all thanks to his good friend Michael Vrooman. Today Tommy is still involved with the IGRA Royalty program that he holds dear. In 2001 he received the IGRA Director's Award, and in 2009 he was honored to receive the IGRA President's Award.
At the time of his induction into this Hall of Fame Tommy is the IGRA Administrative Assistant; a position he has held since 2004. He enjoys working and assisting IGRA and all the Member Associations. He is also currently the Merchandising Chair.
Tommy wants everyone to know that after 32 years of being involved with IGRA it is his pleasure to know each of you! He is also thankful to the founders of IGRA for allowing us to be ourselves and enjoy the sport we know as Gay Rodeo!!!!!!