August 26, 1953 -
Written by Gregory Hinton
A blackjack dealer and a gay cowboy walked into a kick-ass country bar. "What'll ya have?" the bartender asked Brian Rogers.
Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on August 26, 1953, Brian, along with his two brothers, grew up in a newly built Ft. Worth suburb. The "Leave It to Beaver" neighborhood was like suburbs popping up everywhere in the 50's and 60's. His parents divorced when he was six years old, solidifying his bond with his mother and siblings. Brian was a shy, and solitary kid who spent most of his time riding his bike, crawdad fishing and playing with his toy trucks.
Summers were spent on his uncle's working farm in Paul's Valley, Oklahoma. The farm produced okra, alfalfa, tomatoes and peaches as cash crops. The family operation also bred quarter horses and was one of the first to specialize in breeding Black Angus cattle.
Back in the 'big city', Brian grew up in the home of the world-famous Ft. Worth Rodeo and Stock Show. As was common in those days, he got two fully accredited weeks off from school each year to attend the stock show helping his uncle groom and show cattle for show and auction. Brian attended a lot of rodeos and dance hall performances with his family during those years. During those summers on the farm and his experiences at the stock shows and rodeos, Brian developed a love for the sport of rodeo and the cowboy lifestyle.
In 9th grade, at the age of 15, Brian attended the Fort Worth Teen Fair & Mardi Gras Festival where he was first exposed to counter-culture and rock n' roll with bands like The Doors and many other Top 10 bands. Here he started coming out of his shell and found he liked to party. 1969 was a transformative year for the 17 year old Brian. In June he attended the International Rock Festival Labor Day Weekend in Louisville, Texas. Appearing were many of the same acts from the now famous Woodstock Music Festival, which was held only two weeks before: Led Zeppelin, Santana, Janis Joplin, B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, Canned Heat, Chicago Transit Authority, James Cotton Blues Band. Brian was beginning to know he was "different".
Then in June of 1969, the Stonewall Riots occurred, becoming the impetus for Gay Pride events around the world. In November of that same year Brian and his older brother attended the Anti-Vietnam War March on Washington. The Gay Liberation Front maintained a presence there and Brian hung out at its camp. It was then that Brian first realized he really wasn't the only gay teenager in the world. Maybe he wasn't so different after all. He learned that visibility as a gay individual was essential to self-acceptance, and for inclusion in the community at large so at the age of 17 he came out to his family. This value serves him today as a goodwill ambassador promoting the mission of gay rodeo.
After a move to Dallas and his first trip to San Francisco, Brian dropped out of high school as a sophomore and passed the General Educational Development (GED) exams. He wanted to get on with his life. He took a course in respiratory therapy and moved to Houston to work for a hospital there. He joined the Houston Motorcycle Club and spent several years helping them stage their increasingly large fundraising events for charity. This is where he realized and began his life-time love and talent for logistics. Always self-supporting, he tried on a variety of different occupations, looking for the right fit: respiratory therapy, bartending, magazine photographer, and events producer, which was good training for a budding rodeo director.
Ready for a change, in 1980 Brian moved to the northeast, first to Trenton, New Jersey and then to New Hope, Pennsylvania. During those years he worked as a valet attendant at a mafia-run Italian restaurant, a real estate agent and a gift shop manager. Still looking for the right career fit, in 1987 he enrolled in Blackjack School in Atlantic City and went to work at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. Over the next few years he learned Roulette, Craps, Pai Gow Poker and many other games.
In 1991 he made his first trip to Las Vegas and he eventually moved there in 1993 to start his career in gaming with Station Casinos for whom he still works. Career established, Brian found his stride in the Nevada desert.
In 1992 the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association (NGRA) was formed in the state where the first gay rodeo had been held two decades before. Informed by his Texas/Oklahoma upbringing and committed to the celebration and preservation of the gay country and western lifestyle, Brian joined NGRA in 1996 and has been an active member on the NGRA Rodeo Planning Committee ever since then.
Brian Roger's organizational acumen, his memory for detail, his willingness to help others and his demonstrated leadership skills soon made him an invaluable asset to NGRA. He devoted all his personal time to NGRA and served the association in many capacities including Assistant Rodeo Director, Rodeo Director, Treasurer, President and Trustee to IGRA.
These qualities and accomplishments quickly made him known to the Board of the International Gay Rodeo Association. (IGRA)
Brian served a four-year stint as IGRA Rodeo Resources Chairperson. In that role, he created the Rodeo Resources Guidebook, still in use today. Next, as IGRA University Chancellor for three years, he reinvigorated the program. The curriculum was greatly expanded and the degree program was instituted by him.
He also served as IGRA Convention Co-Chair in 2000 and 2012 and spent three years on the IGRA Executive Committee as Division I Trustee chair.
Brian spent four years on the World Gay Rodeo Finals committee, first as Asst. Rodeo Director for two years, then Rodeo Director in 2010 and finally Committee Chair in 2011.
At the time of his induction into the Hall of Fame Brian is serving as Committee Chair for the IGRA Archives Committee. During his tenure he worked with Patrick Terry and Frank Harrell to significantly expand the archives collection as well as making it available online for researchers and the general public. The Archives Committee has mounted several major exhibitions and continues to showcase the history and rodeo spirit that makes IGRA great. Brian also serves as a Director on the Board of the Gay and Lesbian Rodeo Heritage Foundation and was Sponsorship Chair for the Rodeo at Gay Games 9 held in August 2014.
In 2013, Brian moved from Las Vegas to work as Training & Operations Manager of the Graton Resort and Casino in Sonoma, California, built and managed by Station Casinos. He serves on the Sonoma County Pride planning committee and on the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender, Questioning, Intersexual (GLBTQI) Advisory Board to the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission.
Brian Rogers is an exemplary cowboy and public service leader. He has spent the past 18 years committed to the mission of NGRA and IGRA; Sportsmanship, Camaraderie, Service to the Community and Preservation of the Western Lifestyle.