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Thu Sep 24, 2020, 07:25 PM

Kissing cowboys: the queer rodeo stars bucking a macho American tradition

Kissing cowboys: the queer rodeo stars bucking a macho American tradition

Photographer Luke Gilford couldn’t believe his eyes when he first stumbled across a gay rodeo. He set out to capture the joyous, tender, authentic world he saw there

America’s queer cowboys – in pictures

Dale Berning Sawa
Wed 23 Sep 2020 01.00 EDT

Luke Gilford was at a Pride event in northern California in 2016 when he was drawn to a stand by the sound of Dolly Parton singing 9 to 5. What he found there would change his life. Members of the local chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association were promoting what they do, and how they live. Gilford looked on in astonishment. “I grew up around this world,” he says. “I had no idea this existed. I really didn’t think it was real.”

A sought-after film-maker and photographer, to whom Barbara Kruger is a mentor and Pamela Anderson and Jane Fonda muses, Gilford cuts a striking figure. A New York Times profile that same year recounted how you could often catch a glimpse of him downtown, in a hand-me-down cowboy hat, football-style shoulder pads over his bare torso.

{snip}

The first gay rodeo happened in the mid-1970s, as one of the more creative fundraisers by the Imperial Court System. This pioneering LGBT non-profit, now the second-largest in the US, uses charitable fundraising to build ties with communities. It is still run entirely by volunteers, on whom fanciful titles are bestowed. In 1975, Phil Ragsdale, then Emperor I of Reno, threw a benefit for a senior citizens Thanksgiving dinner. More than 100 people took part in this gay rodeo, as well as five cows, 10 calves, one pig and a Shetland pony. A King, a Queen and a Miss Dusty Spurs (the drag queen category) were crowned, and history was made.

Today, the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) has 15 member groups across the US, with one more in the Canadian Rockies. After meeting the Californian chapter, Gilford began saving up, planning to hit the circuit. “I was living in New York at the time. So I would fly to the south-west, rent a truck then travel around – to New Mexico, Utah, Colorado.” ... The project is mostly portraiture, often close-up, with some shots against the backdrop of those fabled big skies and endless expanses. And Gilford was no outsider looking in: he clearly saw himself in the people he met. “We’re all from places that are still hostile to queerness.”

{snip}

Previously at DU:

Sun Sep 6, 2020: Gay Rodeo Art Exhibit In St. Pete Bursts Cowboy Stereotypes

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Reply Kissing cowboys: the queer rodeo stars bucking a macho American tradition (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2020 OP
KT2000 Sep 2020 #1
gay texan Sep 2020 #2

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Sep 24, 2020, 07:40 PM

1. why oh why!

I really wish someone would research the lasting damage to their bodies. Had the misfortune of sort of hanging out with a rodeo crowd and all they do is talk about their injuries like they are medals of honor. Now they are allowing youngsters - 10 year olds, to participate. It is a way to fit into a group, stand out, and screw up their bodies. In my book, this is not intelligent and moreover, cruelty to animals.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Sep 24, 2020, 07:51 PM

2. That first picture is a tad spicey

Meow!!!

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