Looks like LGBTQ people were having all kinds of fun last weekend.
While plenty of LGBTQ people were dressed up for the Red Dress Run in Louisiana on Saturday, others were dressed in cowboy hats and more for the annual LGBTQ rodeo in New Mexico.
According to the Weekly Alibi, the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association holds an annual Zia Regional Rodeo at the Rodeo de Santa Fe. This year’s event, which was the 27th one, was held this past weekend between Friday, August 10th and Sunday, August 12th.
The event went off without a hitch with plenty of events such as bull riding, calf roping, goat dressing, camp events, rodeo school, a dance party, and so much more.
For those who participate in the event every year, the Zia Regional Rodeo offers a safe space for LGBTQ people who’ve grown up surrounded by the cowboy life.
“It’s a way to unite everybody and [show] we are all basically people,” said team roping competitor Shelly Woodson of Wickenburg, Ariz. to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
“I love rodeo,” she added. “It feels good to be part of a community of participants in rodeo.”
On top of that, the annual event disproves the stereotype that LGBTQ people aren’t capable of being a part of a rodeo.
“The stereotypes are that only real men and women can ride the bulls and do the dangerous events,” said 15-time rodeo participant Keith Holtzclaw. “We do the same events and take the same risks.”
And the Zia Rodeo isn’t the only gay rodeo to serve the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In fact, it’s just one in a large group of connected rodeos. The top 20 from these rodeos can then qualify for the World Gay Rodeo Finals that take place in Texas every fall.
That said, there is a negative viewpoint to all of this.
Despite some praising the efforts of the Zia Regional Rodeo in normalizing LGBTQ people in cowboy and rodeo culture, there are some who condemn the entire thing. Responses to the before mentioned Santa Fe New Mexican article have stated their offense to Rodeos, LGBTQ or otherwise, due to the treatment of animals.
"Rodeos are nothing to be proud of! I hate to see gay folks emulating straights when institutionalized animal abuse is involved," said one commenter.
"This is animal cruelty, pure and simple. No group of people should be applauded for causing unnecessary cruelty for entertainment purposes. This is a hate crime against animals, which the LGBTQ community should not condone," wrote another.
For some, it is a way of life. For others, it’s a cruel form of entertainment. But to all, it’s an international sensation that seems to have no end in sight.
h/t: Weekly Alibi, The Santa Fe New Mexican
After checking back on the Sante Fe New Mexican post, it looks like even more commenters have shared their distaste for the Zia Regional Rodeo, and rodeos in general. Many of them make accusations that such events glorify animal abuse.
In response, Brian Helander, the spokesman for the New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association, made the following statement:
"Rodeo events sanctioned by the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) operate under modified rules of professional and non-gay rodeo while preserving GLBT participation in this North American tradition. Although consisting of traditional rodeo events such as bull riding and bronc riding, gay rodeo activities have purposefully been tailored to provide the animal and human participants with the safest environment possible, while still demonstrating the skill of the contestant."
"IGRA uses stock animals in the sport of rodeo. Our position is that this responsible use of stock does not rise to the level of abuse. IGRA does not abuse animals nor condone animal abuse, at any time, in any way, by anyone."
"The IGRA imposes specified rules related to animal welfare which are strictly enforced. The Association penalizes any contestant, official or contractor found to be treating any animals inhumanely."
"The minimum penalty for contestants is immediate disqualification from further competition.
IGRA Certified Officials are routinely evaluated by IGRA committee chairs and educated regarding IGRA animal use policies."
"Stock Contractors are informed of our policies and bylaws related to animal welfare and may suffer financial penalties for failure to comply."
"Specific IGRA animal use guidelines include:
- IGRA prohibits the use of electric prods in bucking chutes.
- Spur rowels in riding events have event-specific requirements.
- A fleece flank strap is used for bucking events and is not painful to animals in any way.
- Goats participating in the "Goat Dressing" event are required to be between 25 and 30 inches in height and are rested after every 8 "dressings".
- Arenas are groomed and leveled for maximum horse safety during the speed events.
- We prohibit the use of lame, sore, sick, or undersized stock in any event at any time.
- A large animal veterinarian must be on site from the start to the finish of every rodeo.
- IGRA directs the removal of any animal from competition that appears to be in danger of injuring itself."
"Our association has an international level Animal Issues Committee of LGBT cowboys and cowgirls that tracks issues related to animal use, annually reviews our animal use and welfare policies and reports directly to the annual convention."
"All IGRA members, contestants, certified officials and volunteers are educated on and responsible for the implementation of these animal welfare policies at our member association rodeos and at the IGRA-produced World Gay Rodeo Finals®."