Nearby, one of the only baby faces in the crowd is bug-eyed with suspicion. Dillon, 19, is from the rural town of Arcadia. He's only been out for two years, and it hasn't been easy, due to his ultrareligious family. His godfather brought him along, and this is the first time he's been around a large number of gay people. He's on red-alert.

Due to "egos" and "bullshit," last year the FGRA had to cancel its rodeo.

"Because of how I look, [my godfather] said people are going to be grabbing on me," he matter-of-factly explains. "He said I'll be OK if I stick around him. And not accept drinks from strangers."

Three types of people show for gay rodeos, says a longtime participant who didn't want his name next to the quote. "Those that are contestants and those that come to support us," he explains. "And then there are those that are looking for their next 15 minutes." If you can imagine an eyebrow working up and down lubriciously, you'll catch his drift.

IGRA events feature the same contests as straight rodeo, including bull-riding.
Photo by George Martinez
IGRA events feature the same contests as straight rodeo, including bull-riding.
Gay rodeo also camps it up with competitions like wild drag, which requires some garb beyond the usual chaps and cowboy boots.
Photo by George Martinez
Gay rodeo also camps it up with competitions like wild drag, which requires some garb beyond the usual chaps and cowboy boots.

Sure, some folks might come to the IGRA for bedroom belt notches — hence the pool party, along with late-night boozy bacchanals at gay bars Ramrod and Bill's Filling Station — but for many, it's the actual competition that is the draw.

Some of the IGRA's top stars competed for years in straight rodeo before jumping into the gay circuit. David Renier, central-casting Marlboro Man-type from San Diego, still competes in both; he's been the IGRA All-Around Cowboy four times in the past five years. Along with Candy Pratt, an IGRA Hall of Famer out of Dallas, he's expected to be among the top competitors this weekend.

Ed Aiello, a lanky six-foot-something Fort Lauderdale rodeo competitor known around the circuit as "Lil' Hoss," stumbled onto the IGRA thanks to encouraging friends. In 2008, Aiello and a partner hit up 13 rodeos, consistently putting up good numbers. At season's end, Lil' Hoss was dubbed the IGRA's Rookie of the Year.

"I knew I could drop a football. I knew I could not hit a three-pointer. I knew that I couldn't stand up on ice skates," he says. "But who knew in my early 40s I'd find something I have a talent for? Wrestling steers onto the ground.

"It's definitely a labor of love," he says. "And for some, it's just another opportunity to take off your shirt and show your body."

Diane Ross, tiny and sun-cured as a raisin, struts the arena with true cowboy swagger. But she's not a competitor. Instead, she usually helps out with the chute crew or handling animals. Her bloodline, however, weaves back through generations of Saint Augustine cattlemen. Today, she owns 40 head of cracker cows, carries a whip around for snapping her animals to attention, and can knowledgeably pilot conversation on the history of the Florida cattle all the way back to the first Spanish explorers here.

"All gay people will tell you that in the [straight] cowboy world, they don't like gay people," she says. "Where I'm from, I'm the only gay cowgirl around, and all the cowgirls up there are crazy religious. Well, they don't like me."

The rancher went to her first IGRA event here in Fort Lauderdale. She was shocked. "It has totally changed my world as far as making me feel comfortable," she says. "There's no other place I want to be this weekend than here."

But even among the weekend cowpokes, Karey Lipham is a wild card. That's because buried beneath the all-smiles, freckle-dusted exterior of a 32-year-old Lakeland school teacher is a true fanatic of the most skull-crushingly intense of all rodeo competitions: bull-riding.

It was love at first buck. When she was 8, Lipham was hypnotized as a family friend was flicked around on a bull at a local rodeo. Here was something that squeezed all the high-velocity jolts and zags of a roller coaster into just a second or two. She pestered her parents to let her try.

Just to shut her up, they agreed for Lipham's 13th birthday. That's how, on a rainy day in Plant City, she found herself sitting atop a strawberry-colored steer, ­waiting for the gate to swing open. "It lasted for a second, a blink of an eye," she says today. "I don't even think I tried to hold on. It was just so exciting, and then it was done."

By the time the girl was back on her feet, she was hooked for life — and ready to go again. "I lasted a little bit longer the second time," she says. "Two blinks."

Lipham rode here and there with the same family friend. But it wasn't easy for a girl to ride rodeo in backwoods Florida. When she hit high school, Lipham thought she could join up with the association and shoehorn bull-riding into her stocked schedule of high school sports. But, turns out girls weren't allowed to ride roughstock in any of the amateur or semipro setups. Sorry, darlin'.

"It's very frustrating for anyone to tell you you can't do something because of this thing that you can't change," she says.

It wasn't until 2006, when Lipham was now out and working as a school teacher, that she learned about the IGRA at a Pride event. It was like hitting the daily double of life-changing realizations: "I said, 'There's such a thing as gay cowboys? And there's a place where I can ride bulls?' I just felt like I was home."


« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
3 comments
ralphpetrucci
ralphpetrucci topcommenter

That illustration (if done by a gay, bi or straight man) is pathetic and not representative of the men who participate in this sport. Put it on the paper cover even. Shame.

Slackology
Slackology

Fucking attention whore homo's....

gaelrmurphy
gaelrmurphy

How charming that the GLBT community can now enjoy abusing farmed animals with the same barbaric gusto as the straight sadists!  And women can now torture and kill buls in the bullfight ring just like the male savages do!  You've come a long way Baby!

 
Loading...