November 14, 1960 -
First attended a gay rodeo in 1993
Amy Griffin, also known as "Amy Griffin ILGRA," was born in Jackson, Michigan on November 14, 1960. She has one younger brother, David, who resides in Arizona. Her family, in various configurations, lived in Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and Minnesota before winding up in San Francisco when Amy was 7 years old. She remained in the Bay Area until finishing college.
Amy graduated from Mills High School in 1978 and from San Francisco State University in 1981, having majored in Art/Art History, with a minor in History. Following college, Amy moved east in 1981, and spent a year at Penn State University completing graduate coursework and doing some teaching in the Art History Department. In 1982, Amy moved further east, to Scotland, where she completed her PhD program, submitting her dissertation in 1988 in the University of Glasgow's Department of Fine Art.
With that chapter of her life completed, Amy relocated to Los Angeles in late 1989, where she has lived ever since. Amy has been working in the legal field for over 25 years.
After spending two years unsuccessfully prodding Amy to join them in competing in the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) Camp Events at the "L.A. Rodeo", a pair of well-meaning, but duplicitous friends, Mark Marshall and Bill Pederson, signed her up for a Golden State Gay Rodeo Association (GSGRA) membership, and as their Wild Drag Race partner for the "L.A. Rodeo" in April 1993. Back then, Los Angeles was the first Division 1 rodeo of the season. Reluctantly, Amy agreed to compete. Having never seen any of the IGRA rodeo events, she was skeptical, and a bit frightened. Growing up in San Francisco, Amy was more of a city gal, and simply was not interested in getting dirty or playing with wild animals.
Mark and Bill were partners for all 3 camp events. On that Saturday in April 1993, Bill was injured during the steer decorating event, leaving Mark partner-less. The three of them persuaded a mutual friend, Casey Stengal, also experiencing his first rodeo, into taking Bill's place as their "drag" partner, and Mark persuaded Amy to substitute in for Bill in the goat dressing and steer decorating events for the rest of the weekend. With Bill on injured reserve, Mark, Amy and Casey spent the rest of the '93 season as a team, winning ribbons at each Division 1 rodeo, and earning a spot at the World Gay Rodeo Finals in Fort Worth. Throughout the year, Amy competed in all three camp events. She also added the calf roping on foot event, since back in the 'old days', all contestants had to be present Saturday morning for the mandatory contestant meeting, which was held just before that roping event.
In 1994, Amy added Chute Dogging to her events, postulating that it would be less dangerous than steer riding. She also expanded her rodeo travels outside Division 1, and became a frequent traveler to rodeos throughout the IGRA circuit. She says that one of her favorite memories from that period was having the great fortune to be present for the inaugural Canadian Rockies International Rodeo, in Calgary, in 1994. Amy continued to compete in rodeo events until 2008, although sporadically, as she worked primarily as a rodeo judge. She won a number of event buckles, and placed in the All-Around Cowgirl circle on five occasions.
Amy held many posts in the two Los Angeles chapters of GSGRA, as well as having served two terms as GSGRA Vice President in the mid-1990's. She was the Assistant Rodeo Director for the Palm Springs Rodeo in 1995, which was particularly challenging, as there was a Leather Fest in town, and the Rodeo Director went missing for the entire weekend. To this day, Amy still loves Dennis Terrell for stepping in at the last minute to sing the National Anthem, when the scheduled performer failed to show up. Amy was also Co-Rodeo Director for the Los Angeles rodeo with Roger Bergmann in 1996. Two weeks before that rodeo Roger found out that he had to travel out of state for work. According to Roger, Amy handled the rodeo weekend with no problems. One of the highlights of that weekend for Amy, was Dennis Terrell's beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace," which he sang for the Riderless Horse Ceremony, a closely guarded secret beforehand. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Amy held the title of Ms. IGRA 1st Runner-up in 1995. Working alongside 1995's Miss IGRA, De Shannon (Mitch Gill), and Mr. IGRA Mark Burdine, Amy is proud that their team succeeded in "putting some teeth" into the IGRA Royalty program, endeavoring to make the team an actual working group. Amy then proceeded to serve two terms as IGRA Vice President in 1996 and 1997.
Amy has chaired a number of IGRA committees, including Rodeo Growth & Planning 2002-2003, Rodeo Judges 2003-2004, Co-Chair of Rodeo Judges 2005-2008, Health & Safety 2013-2014, and Hall of Fame beginning in 2016. Having missed only the Toronto convention in 2009, the 2016 convention in Austin will be her 22nd IGRA convention since she began attending with the Little Rock convention in 1994.
Amy's 200th IGRA event was the Ft. Lauderdale rodeo in 2011, at which point she attempted to retire from IGRA. Her retirement was short-lived, however, lasting only months before she was dragged back into the arena.
Amy became certified as a Rodeo Judge in late 1999, and has just completed her 17th year as a Rodeo Judge. While primarily known as a Rodeo Judge in the modern rodeo era, Amy was also a certified Scorekeeper for 5 years (1996-2000).
She has received the IGRA Trustees Award (1995), IGRA Directors Award (1996, 1998), and the IGRA International Award (2008). She also shared the honor of 1999 Windy City Rodeo (Chicago) Co-Grand Marshall, along with her dear friend, the late Phil Seamster, Jr. Amy takes enormous pride in her longtime participation in IGRA, and feels extraordinarily blessed to have met so many amazing people, and had the great fortune to develop many lifelong friendships along the way. She is humbled and immensely honored to now join the IGRA Hall of Fame.
At the time of her induction into this Hall of Fame Amy resides in Los Angeles, with her partner Debora Simon, who is known to rodeo contestants as "Simone."