Often, it's gays who are doing the protesting: Let us marry! Let us have civil rights! Let us have public toilets on the beach without the mayor characterizing us as sexual deviants! But Saturday, cowboys and cowgirls found themselves on the receiving side of the bullhorns and posterboard signs when about 25 members of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) decried the Sunshine Stampede gay rodeo taking place at Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie.
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"Animals used in rodeos are not aggressive by nature," ARFF spokeswoman Amanda Burk wrote in a news release prior to the event. "Without the use of spurs, tail-twisting and bucking straps cinched tightly around their abdomen and groin, these frightened and confused animals wouldn't even buck.
The animals are terrorized into action when these cowboys and cowgirls shove electric prods into them, twist their necks, yank them by their tails or legs, slam them into the ground, or otherwise batter them; activities that in any other forum outside of the rodeo that would be punishable by law." ARFF says that the rodeo animals often end up with internal organ bruising, hemorrhaging, bone fractures, ripped tendons, and torn ligaments.
Post-protest, Burk said that the rodeogoers turned out to be "surprisingly friendly." She emphasized that her group had a problem with the "rodeo" part of the gay rodeo -- not any problem with gays. To make that clear, it even brought along its own gay animal-rights activists, one of whom wore a T-shirt that invited the rodeo ladies to give up their animal-abusing ways and "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowgirl."