9 - 11 September 2011. Filed under category Personal.
My first-ever rodeo ribbon!

My first-ever rodeo ribbon!

I didn’t get much sleep on Friday the ninth of September. I lay awake thinking about a document I signed earlier that day. Taking the advice of Don, a daredevil who habitually gets hurt, I signed up to compete in my first-ever rodeo. Why? Because I am a man who laughs nervously in the face of danger and who is pathologically unable to resist adventure. Melodramatic as all hell, but those were my reasons.

Tired of staring into the ceiling of Don’s motorhome, I got up before dawn and walked the grounds of Driscoll Ranches. The morning mist lay thick in the tree-covered valley, and the soft damp air tickled my skin. I walked past the pen where the steers stood. Were they nervous too? They didn’t look it. I patted one on the head and whispered, “See you in the arena.”

The Competition

I competed in three events. The easiest was Goat Dressing. In teams of two (My partner was Jamison, a friend travelling with Don and me.) you run up to a goat, lift up its hind legs and put on a pair of pink panties. My best position was tenth place out of about 25. Then again, as the announcer said, “If you don’t wear them, it can be hard to know how to put them on.”

A more challenging event was Steer Decorating, or Steer Deco for short. (A steer is a castrated bull.) This is another team event in which a ‘header’ pulls a steer across a line using a rope around the horns of the steer. Once over the line, the ‘tailer’ ties a ribbon around the steer’s tail. It doesn’t sound so bad, but a steer is a big animal and standing behind one and holding its tail while tying that ribbon is nervous work.

Mark Lawson was the header and I was the tailer. Our best time was 10.5 seconds which earned us fifth place out of 25 and my first-ever rodeo ribbon!

My position in Steer Deco was my best during the rodeo, yet the event that I was the most proud of was Chute Dogging.

Chute Dogging is easy to explain. You start in a chute with a steer. When the chute opens, you must move the animal over a line a few metres away and then wrestle it to the ground.

Don's soon-to-be-infected rope burns.

Don's soon-to-be-infected rope burns.

The rules may be simple, but that makes it no less scary. As I stood in that chute with one horn tucked under my left armpit, my left hand in the steer’s mouth and my right hand holding on to the second horn, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell I was doing.

But there was no turning back. I called for the chute to open, and then it was just me and the steer. I wrestled with the animal for 45 seconds before the time ran out. Let me say that again. I wrestled a steer for 45 seconds! The damned rubber-necked animal spread it legs and no matter how much I fought, it just wouldn’t go down. Exhausted, I stumbled back towards the chute, not entirely disappointed since at least I had not given up. Then a judge approached me and said that the buzzer had gone off 15 seconds too early and that I was eligible for a re-run.

I can write a doctorate dissertation on mixed feelings based solely on the few seconds it took me to say, “OK.”

On the re-run, I wrestled the steer to the ground in 5.8 seconds and earned myself eighth place out of about 30. I have not felt such joy, excitement and pride since I graduated university!

I had two goals arriving at the rodeo: to be brave enough to compete and not get hurt. Mission accomplished. However, my friends fared worse. Don got bad rope burns in Steer Deco and something called Wild Drag after the steers dragged him across the ground, and yet another steer kicked Jamison during Steer Deco. In comparison, my minor bruises seem trivial.

The Rodeo Community

I loved the rodeo, and not just because of the thrill of the competition. The people I met there were just as exciting.

The cowboys and cowgirls had a certain earthy quality that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. The men were proper gentlemen, but not in a boring English upper-class way but rather in a whiskey-swigging, wise-cracking, easy-going and damn sexy way. The women were gorgeous and packed enough balls to ride bulls. What more could you ask for?

Put another way, I doubt that there was a single bad lover at the rodeo.

Animal Safety

Some people equate rodeos with animal cruelty. I have only been to one rodeo, but that is more than most people. I also grew up on a farm surrounded by livestock, and I can see the difference between a well-treated and an ill-treated animal. I saw absolutely no signs of animal cruelty at the rodeo.

One way I tested this was by approaching the pens where the steers/bulls/goats/horses were kept. They walked up to me and allowed me to pat them. This tells me that they have positive experiences with people, and thus are not experiencing their captivity or their role at the rodeo negatively. I performed this test before and after the rodeo with identical results.

Rodeo Information

The name of the rodeo I attended is Best Buck of the Bay, which is the gay rodeo of the San Francisco area. For more information about gay rodeos, check out the International Gay Rodeo Association. For general rodeo information, check out the International Professional Rodeo Association. (I presume they threw in the word ‘professional’ to avoid being confused with the Irish Republican Army.)

Richard and Kimera

Richard and Kimera are friends of mine who met at Burning Man two years ago. This year, they got married there. They also joined me for the rodeo where they did community goat dressing and won! Click here to see a video of this and them accepting their buckles!


Have you ever channelled your inner cowboy/cowgirl?

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  1. kimera azriel says:

    Well, my Daddy was a Texan from ol’ El Paso. I do not lie and I have been known to wear pink panties which might explain why Rich and I got buckles for goat dressing.

    Rich is smitten with the sport and now has two roping lassos, four whips and more on order.

    He also loves the fashion. Yes, shirts, boots, hats and etc etc etc all coming in the post.

    So I married an English Gentleman but I’m getting a Cowboy. Yee Ha!!

    1. Jason Strand says:

      and might i add that i think cowboys are some of if not the best lovers, lol then again i might be a bit bias =)…it was great to meet both you and Rich at the rodeo.

      1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

        Speaking from experience there, Jason?

        1. Jason Strand says:

          quite possibly ;)especially in some more recent ecounters over the past few weeks

  2. Kimera and I were there, and I can attest to the skill of Gustav’s second steer-wrestle… It was fast, skillfull, and clearly effective (poor steer had no idea what hit it…)

    I was filming (a different video to the one above) – and was pretty much leaping up and down when that steer went down.


  3. Andy DelliColli says:

    I wish I had taken some training before attempting to ride a bug nasty bull aptly named “Cardiac Arrest”. 3 seconds and one pulled groin later, I was very proud of my amateur attempt.

  4. Brother Henrik says:

    If our parents will se the chute dogging film they probably wants you back in Ljungby to be shore that you dont go doing more dangerous thing.
    I have riding one of ours 350 kg higland catle it whas a bet in one off my partys, what they dident no whas how frendley ours cow are and how mutch i have cuddle whit them.

    1. kimera azriel says:

      That is so sweet. I hear of your gentle cows up there. The cattle at a rodeo are as used to the routine as the cowboys are. The cows know the drama lasts only for a little while and they know where the gate out is. I would love to meet your Highland cattle and give them a hug.

      1. Brother Henrik says:

        You are welcome to Ljungby and hug them Kimera 🙂

  5. Haha, that sounds like great fun. Great website, i will follow your journey.

    Best regards from one Nomad to the other

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      My German alter-ego! Brilliant! Welcome to this side of the language barrier.

      I will check out your blog, and who knows, maybe we’ll meet somewhere down the road.

  6. kimera azriel says:

    We need a ski holiday this winter. Any good deals up your way for a group? Then we could visit.

    1. Brother Henrik says:

      Sorry Kimera we only have a tiny ski slope in Ljungby about 200 meters long.
      butt if you go 600-1000 kilometres north of Ljungby there is lots of down hils ski slope.
      if you and your group deside to go to north part of sweden for ski holiday and pasing Ljungby you and your group are welcome to rest here for a day o two best regards Henrik.

      1. kimera azriel says:

        looks like we are going to those little hills they call the french alps. would you like to join 5 or 6 of us in a chalet?

  7. PDragon says:

    I thought you went for bears not goats or calves!

    1. Andy DelliColli says:

      Grr… woof.

      1. PDragon says:

        Or bitches for that matter!


  8. kimera azriel says:

    He’s a leg man now?

  9. Jason Strand says:

    Amazing job on this, and loved the video, lol didnt know you were putting one of my rides in there =) was great to see.

  10. Roku says:

    Wait, that was your first time competing? Way to go, man!

  11. Magnus says:


  12. Craig Brown says:

    After some deep soul searching, I did manage to find some unusual archetypes down there, but alas, no cowboy ;-( I’d give anything a go once though…I think. Does feeling an intense desire to lasso your Mom’s poodle as they are about to take a piss on the kitchen floor count?

  13. Steven says:

    Can’t help but be a bit aroused by that!

  14. Jack says:

    This is the ONE post that I really do NOT enjoy on this wonderful blog. A completely meaningless and ridiculous event that serves only to exploit frightened animals for “entertainment”. I understand that you are on a quest to find the Holy Grail of Manliness or something, and I applaud you for it. But this is no more manly than those poor Chihuahuas and Maltese that are dressed up and made to wear jewellery and even make-up.

    So what constitutes a Real Man? One that is able to put underwear on a goat…? Or one secure enough in his manhood not need a frightened animal and a cheering crowd? For me the manliest state is that of a father. And fatherhood does not start adn stop with getting kids, it is an inner state that includes every single person and creature. It is standing up for the weaker, the voice-less and the underdog.

    I have read and re-read your story and I have waited more than a week to post a comment, giving it serious contemplation. I wish you to the same for me; please take time to watch this documentary – and please watch it from start to end. I would love to read you comment on it. Cheers.

    1. Andy DelliColli says:

      After much deliberation, the rodeo is a time honored American tradition. Whether you like it or not. All over the world animals are exploited or killed for sport or food. Regardless of your opinion, this tradition will continue unabated. While we are on the subject, bull fighting will also continue, as will the running of the bulls, and the meat industry. Yes, putting underwear on a goat makes him more of a man, your judgement notwithstanding. Any activity that shows some small dominance over nature will do so. Fishing, hunting, farming, rodeo, even mowing the lawn.

      1. Andy DelliColli says:

        Dang, I’m getting bitchy in my old age.

    2. Craig Brown says:

      Jack, personally, I like your post here. A different point of view; passionate but not a nutcase. I agree that as the only earthling with full moral knowledge of right and wrong we are in an exceptional position to act with compassion. We can do better; starting with each other. I eat meat. I’m thankful to people like Temple Grandin for the better treatment of livestock. But I should pay more attention.
      I’m not an expert, but isn’t this going a bit too far for a rodeo? Perhaps the bulls don’t like it (?), but the goat can’t be terrified of being adorned in pink lingerie in a rapid fashion.
      I’m a little aghast at your definition of what makes a man Andy! Dominance over nature?! My feeble elderly Mother gets a little more manly every time she manages to throw another load of wash in the dryer and, in doing so, releases a bit more CO2.

      1. Andy DelliColli says:

        Yes, my dearest Craig! It sure as hell isn’t losing your virginity. Almost every archetypical “manly” activity is a brief triumph over nature. the cow and goat themselves are a triumph of men’s engineering nature. Please feel free to list some that don’t, Brown, I’ll be happy to correct you.

        1. Andy DelliColli says:

          I find, a little makeup does the trick.

        2. Craig Brown says:

          I raise the white flag here Andy. I’m no expert in masculine vs. feminine archetypes. I don’t consider it much. It reminds me of my grandfather’s world. I’m not sure I understood the make up remark. That’s OK though, maybe I wasn’t suppose to.

  15. Jack says:

    Craig – thank you! I do personally not eat meat, but I am not militant. I can accept killing of animals, death is a part of life and a kill CAN be more humane and kinder than a natural death (I have worked with care of the elderly and dying, and also a vet tech, so death is an old time friend of mine). I nursed my mother through her very painful death and I wish I could have ended her misery for her).
    But the useless expolitation of animals for sheer entertainment, and the industrial coldness of the “food” industry is another deal entirely.

    Andy; war, rape, incest, child abuse, theft and murder has always been present, in every society and part of the world. Slavery has been a fact in most. Do you honour these “traditions” to? In many cases, all of these have been done in pursuit of establishing of proving masculinity, just like gay-bashing. Being a man has nothing to do with terrifying and hurting the innocent – quite the opposite really. If it had, Josef Fritzl or Dr Mengele would be your most cherished He-Men.

    Another time-honoured “tradition”, serving to prove macho domination over nature and the unprotected is female sex mutilation. I certainly hope that the disgusting procedure will end, as the perversion it is.
    While you may find that the epitome of manliness is a wife-beating child-molestor with a perfectly mowed lawn and a goat with lingerie laying beaten to the ground – I will certainly pursue my ideals elsewhere..! 😉

    PS; sorry for the typos, it is 6:30 AM here. 🙂

    1. Andy DelliColli says:

      Missing the point by a mile. But okay, while we’re talking about genital mutilation, I’m also very much against circumcision, which removes the same ratio of nerves from a male as a clitorectomy does on a female. That being said, comparing the holocaust to a rodeo, bull fighting, or running bulls in Paploma, is a bit of an ignorant stretch. Calling rape a time honored tradition is a bit much as well. No. Hunting and gathering, growing and reaping are my examples. Harnessing nature for one’s own ends. Controlling her relentless march through activities like landscaping, again, no comparison whatsoever to female genital mutilation. Dr. Mengele is my hero? My restraint right now is an example of manliness, for instance. A lesser man would simply make wild inferences regarding your dream social life with nazis.

      1. Jack says:

        Dare I hope that re-reading my post would help make it clearer for you?
        As for you restraining yourself; by all means don’t. I can handle both passive aggression (or to quote you; being “bitchy”) or open warfare if you please. You claim to dislike religion (an honourable trait IMO; I am myself an anti-theist) – but still you start a crusade over REAL MEN’S right to dress up goats as drag queens.

        I have never brought up the holocaust or said that Dr Mengele is your hero. Quite the opposite, really. Please read again. And remember that I can only be held accountable for what I write here – not for what you choose to percieve.

  16. Jack says:

    Oh and Andy, as for macho symbols who had no need to force dominion over animals (or a bloody lawn for that matter, that rather bizarre ideal will linger in my mind for quite a while I think!); Is Odin man enough for you? The highest of the Gods, constantly accompanied by his wolves, his ravens and his horse. Odin had several sexual encounters with Loke, both as men and as of opposite sexes. He was accused of un-manliness, not because of the occasional sodomy, but because he practiced seidr (magic/fortune telling) which was considered a woman’s chore.
    He sacrificed his eye in Mimer’s well, and hanged himself for nine days in the tree Yggdrasil, and once pierced himself on it’s branches – all to gain insight. See? It is dominion and mastery of ONESELF that is manly, not torturing a squirrel.

    There are many others. I have studied theology, and I think that this particular myth proves my point well. All the highly sexual creation gods, the utmost in macho power, have been living in the wild, has governed the woods and the beasts in harmony. But while all cultures have hailed the Wild Man who is at home in the woods, friend of the beasts and free – you are of course free to worship the suburban man with a perfect lawn and a ready bought steak. With or without pink lingerie.

    1. Andy DelliColli says:

      Sorry, I find religion in all it’s forms a bit hokey, so I’m not addressing it further.

    2. Hanne says:

      I think I just fell in love with a comment. Jack’s comment about the prejudiced, cultural and even fortuitous way in which a society states what’s manly or not is exactly the kind of comment that is needed in today’s society.

      The purpose of rodeos must have benn to compare/train cowboy skills not to entertain the masses. In Spain they tokk it one step further by torturing and finally kill the bull. So to claim that history and tradition is a blessing and should be lookd upon with the outmost respeci in ALL cases must be considered a moral wrongdoing in great extent. Humanity has done many things by referring to habits/traditions/beliefs.

      Have we learned nothing?

  17. Andy DelliColli says:

    Speaking as a successful drag Queen who has also participated in rodeo, I’m done with this conversation. It’s boring now. Smooches all around.

  18. Rich says:

    Ouch… feels to me like this conversation has taken a long detour to not-helpful territory…

    Jack, something I would like to point out though, is this: There is certainly a lot of negative publicity about how rodeos generally handle their animals. As someone who was there, and handled a couple of the animals myself – they certainly didn’t seem badly treated in any way at all. Abused animals don’t tend to come _towards_ people at the fences of their pens for petting, for a start…

    I believe Gustav has addressed this point as well, and he has substantially more experience with livestock than I do.

    Whether this means that the animals in this particular rodeo circuit are lucky to be a part of it, and not part of another more mainstream circuit, where they might be treated less well, or rather that the general publicity is over-stated, I can’t know until I have been to one or more of those rodeos and seen it for myself. And, to be frank, neither can you, or anyone else.

    However, my limited experience with rodeos to date, and my less-limited contact with activists in general makes me more likely to believe that a lot of the mis-treatment is vastly over-stated.

    But by all means take your feelings on the matter to a rodeo, and judge for yourself, rather than on the words of people with an agenda.

    1. Jack says:

      First of all I would like to point out that I am not an activist. Just to prevent misunderstandings! 🙂
      I am sure that the animals are well treated and cared for – dragging a neglected animal in front of a crowd would be rather idiotic.
      The things is that there is NO point in it at all. The animals do not choose to enter.
      If I were to do this to little children, given of course that they were not ill-treated prior to the show; would you think that was ok?

      I have bred just about all animals that are kept as pets and livestock. I have worked as a vet tech. I am a dog breeder of quite some merit. I have been to slaughter houses and I have even slaughtered animals myself in my meat eating days (I considered that a moral obligation; to fully know what my choice of eating meat meant). I have euthanized hundreds of animals. I have hunted game.
      I do know what I am talking about, although I have never attended a rodeo.

      May I ask you to take your meat eating habits to a slaughterhouse to challenge your decisions before you discuss the matter? Probably not… If slaughterhouses had walls, everyone would be vegan.

      As for abused animals not coming towards people – that is just not true. I have dealt with severely beaten animals of many species and the fact is that they often imprint harder on people and are pushed to be MORE social.
      And I would like to add to your philosophical question of “luck” being in a rodeo or a mainstream plant: how about the option that they would live normal lives in the wilderness as their species dictates?

      Apart from this, my general point was not the rodeo as such, but to question the notion that it would be MANLY to put pink undies on a goat or wrestle a frightened calf to the ground. I think not. But manliness comes in so many shapes. I have heard anything from paedophiles and football hooligans to wife-beaters justify their actions with the sense of virility and masculinity it gives them. Do I think rodeo is just as bad as abusing children? NO. But the fact that one derives pleasure from something says nothing about it’s ethics.

      1. Rich says:


        Firstly, I didn’t suggest you were an activist – but that the people spreading the information about rodeo handling of livestock were – especially those that make movies on the subject.

        Secondly, I have toured slaughterhouses, and hunted. I equally consider it necessary to understand where my food comes from. This taught me how to hunt humanely, and what slaughterhouses can be like (not what all slaughterhouses ARE like, just what they can be like). It taught me nothing about rodeos, and on that topic, I knew nothing until last year.

        I have met abused dogs. They sometimes approach, but they crawl on their bellies, with their ears down. It’s unmistakable for a well-treated, friendly dog. Their is definitely a difference, and that difference is decidedly clear to an sensible, open-minded observer. In general, however, they won’t approach until forced to by circumstance.

        “Normal lives in the wilderness.” Really? Welcome to the 21st century, where there is essentially a zero population of “wild” cattle. The alternate existence for these animals is likely one of living in a pen eating hormones until slaughtered for food, not one of roaming the prairies. Justifying this argument would be disproving your denial of being a “militant” vegetarian… No other stance would call for the release to the wild of all animals in captivity.

        As to your last paragraph, I didn’t make any mention of “MANLY”, or taking pleasure as a means of justifying a rodeo. Please don’t continue your argument with other people as if I had.

        1. Jack says:

          Wow. And I am the militant one? Ok.

          Here is a useful link for you:

          I am very sorry that I thought that I had the right to post here like other readers. I will write directly to Gustav in the future to spare the fragile egos of other people.

          Craig – thanks again, I value your post even more now.

          1. Rich says:

            The only thing I asked you not to do was assume other people’s arguments in my post… not the posting itself.

            I objected to being told I was trying to justify the poor handling of animals – rather I denied that there was any, based on first-hand observation. But the lack of a smiley face makes that worth less than third-hand reported “facts” from someone who has never observed the events that he is making assumptions about. I never realised they were such powerful things. I’ll go and learn the list right now.


  19. Jack says:

    I won’t pursue this any further. So let’s agree then that there is nothing mnlier, nothing sexier and nothing more holy than dressing up goats like dolls, mowing a lawn and eating dead sheep.

    Maybe I am all wrong, but I really can not see that my original post was hostile in any way. Sorry. English is only my fourth language so I can not help my poor vernacular.
    I do invite you Yanks to discuss this further in other languages, I trust that you are every bit as intellectual as you are… manly.

    Gustav, det har varit synnerligen intressant att följa din blogg och jag tackar för den lilla korrespondens som vi haft. Jag tror inte att jag passar in här, och om detta är det klientel som du reser jorden runt för att umgås med – ja då känner jag rätt starkt att det inte är nomad jag ska bli, utan eremit. Tack och hej!

  20. Magnus L says:

    This discussion spun way out of control. It is a law of some kind saying that any discussion continuing too long will sooner or later end up in nazi-references. I never saw it happen before in this short of time until this very discussion-exciting!

    I am amazed how extremely experienced everyone seem to be in everything from hunting and slaughterhouse touring to animal handling and pet make-up! … Maybe I save some time by not spending day after day engaging in trying to turn firm believers opinions to my own however unbelievable much experience I might think I have making me superior to the opponent .. That time I should probably invest in exploring the wonderful and obviously endless knowledge of rodeo and related topics.. Like genital mutilation, Dr Mengele and all directions of religion..

    .. It have sure been entertaining but gents.. (haha wow! I was about to recommend getting another hobby but it seem you have too much already so..) try to get some sleep now, have a wonderful evening and wake up happy!

    1. Craig Brown says:

      This was crazy indeed. Here’s an idea. Humility: the state of mind that makes it possible to learn something new. And here’s some perspective: today my 48 year old sister had a stroke (minor we hope) on the left side of her brain affecting her language. Isn’t it wonderful and amazing how we have the power to use language so…flamboyantly? It’s so powerful. How shall we use it?

  21. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

    Wow, you turn your back at the blog for two days and this is what happens? Jeez! I didn’t know if I was meant to laugh or cry. I am going to keep this short.

    Animal Welfare

    I already covered this in the post. The only thing I might have added is that there is some difference between gay rodeo and standard rodeo, and some of those changes may relate to animal welfare. If you want to know more about this, please see the IGRA Statement of Position on Animal Welfare.


    Jack, I don’t know where you got the notion that I am ‘on a quest to find the Holy Grail of Manliness’. Furthermore, I have said nothing about masculinity and the rodeo. But, since you went on about this topic at length, I feel I have to make the comment that there are women competing in the rodeo.

    The competition is about skill and having fun. It is not a trial of manhood. No one said it was. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Which leads me into my third and final comment.

    Discussion tone and technique

    I am so proud of the quality of discussions that we have here at The Modern Nomad where, unlike many other forums, people stick to the topic and a civil tone. People here disagree with me occasionally and when they do, they make their contrary point as strongly yet courteously as they can. I respect this and we all hopefully walk away a bit wiser about our own point of view as well as those held by others.

    Jack, you stand out by having a distinctively unpleasant argumentation style. You insinuate, put words in people’s mouths and build the wildest straw man arguments. These techniques derail every discussion and leaves the comment section with the rank stink of pointless bickering.

    My feelings here have nothing to do with your point of view differing from mine. It is the lack of respect that underpins these arguments that I can’t tolerate. For this reason, and this reason alone, I will refuse to discuss this topic further with you. I find it disheartening, pointless and I wouldn’t want to do anything more to encourage your to write any more comments here.

    The only reason I am even writing this comment is the vain hope that it will serve as a wake-up call to the way you conduct yourself online and the way you construct your arguments.

  22. Jack says:

    I am terribly sorry. I do understand now that real men can handle aggression when it is towards a little animal, but not when it comes from another man. I am extremely impressed.

    Know what? Erase all my comments, Gustav, and keep on exploring the world.
    I wish you all the best. I am sorry that I misunderstood that the commenting function could be for actual comments and not for a chorus of hails and praises.

    And I DO think it is really macho putting lingerie on a goat, I really do. When you get older, try braiding a Guinea Pig and then pulling it’s hair and I will buy you a fucking trophy.

  23. […] remember meeting Gustav Andressen of The Modern Nomad at the 2011 Bay Area Rodeo.  Swedish by birth, he left his job in London for a life out on the road.  No home, no corporate […]

  24. Andrew says:

    Gay rodeo promotes cruelty, NOT community.

    Bullying helpless animals to perform for our entertainment and money (through bucking straps, spurs, chasing, violently twisting their heads until they crash to the ground, forcing underwear on them, etc.) is shameful – especially for a group who has themselves fought against oppression and abuse. We should be the first to be voices for others who are abused and bullied, but cannot speak for themselves.

    The IGRA’s 2010 Convention Minutes even details problems with animal welfare violations among its chapters, and acknowledges that “women’s groups” are hard to recruit from, due to women’s enhanced sensitivity to animal welfare issues.

    Furthermore, gay rodeos promote themselves as benefiting other nonprofits – in reality, only about 5-7% of their revenue is donated (sometimes to other gay rodeos, and even in “payment” for use of rodeo grounds – such as Palm Springs/Banning).

    On top of this, Best Buck in the Bay rodeo organizers illegally attempt to trample of the free speech rights of those of us who are speaking up for those they abuse — even though those same free speech laws have served to protect the LGBT community community.

    Fortunately, in recent years, many sponsors and beneficiaries have shown compassion and canceled their involvement (most recently, “Cover Your K-9” withdrew as “beneficiary” of the 2013 Best Buck in the Bay rodeo).

    Please visit for more information.

    Thanks, on behalf of animals, and those of us in the LGBT community who work to protect them.

    1. Sorry you feel that way. Our opinions are clearly at odds. I have now been to several rodeos and have not observed any of the cruelty of which you speak. Or perhaps I have but that our definition of what constitutes cruelty towards animals differ.

      Where I disagree the most with your view is in the comparison of animal and gay rights. I do not believe that animals have human rights, and therefore any argument that is based on that idea falls short in my book.

  25. Andrew says:

    I think many people agree that when you twist an animal’s head around almost 180 degrees and force them to slam to the ground, or chase them while pulling at their tails, making them scream (see links to photos and videos at this is cruel treatment. Other cruelties are not so visible, such as tightening bucking straps while in the chutes, and digging into flesh with spurs. These same stock are used by traditional rodeos, which are well-documented using illegal electric prods, caustic agents in genitals, tail-twisting, etc. – there’s no reason to think these animals are treated much better at gay rodeos. The link to IGRA’s minutes mentions back injuries to undersized steers and references injuries during “chute-dogging.” Goats have been observed limping after the dressing events, and at least one steer was killed at the MN gay rodeo. People would be immediately jailed if they did any of these things to dogs. Please just open your eyes, review the documentation, and put yourself in the animals’ places, and really understand why they are performing, and what happens before and after the performances.

    No one is asserting that non-human animals have “human rights” (such as the right to vote). All sentient beings have at least the right to not be abused and bullied and to exist for their own reasons. The parallels are that the exact same reasons are used to justify abusing non-human animals, as have been used to justify abusing certain groups of humans: they are “lesser,” “different,” “weaker,” not as “intelligent,” don’t have “feelings,” or can provide us with pleasure or profit. It’s a slippery slope.

    I think there’s an element that LGBTs who themselves have felt weak or bullied take pleasure in being able to be powerful over those who are weaker, and perhaps be “macho,” in a socially-acceptable setting.

    I come from cowboy/farmer stock, and I understand the attraction of taking over a culture that’s traditionally homophobic, as well as the fetishism aspect of “cowboy/cowgirl” culture. But we can certainly find other means of entertainment that don’t involve animal abuse.

    If in the end, you simply don’t feel that “farm” animals are deserving of the compassion that dogs and cats are (or you just don’t care about animals period), then I can’t convince you of that. But I and many others in the community will do what we can to protect these animals and promote compassion toward others.

    1. I have never seen anything that comes close to cruelty towards animals at any of the rodeos I’ve been to. So no matter how many horror stories you line up, I will not be able to take them as anything other than the cherry picked exceptions that make the point you’ve decided apriori is the correct one. Me, I will not take the opinions of small lobby groups as yours at face value because doing so can justify almost any point of view in this world. Instead, I lean on my own observations (no problems found) and the democratically created authorities (the rodeos are allowed to continue, so there cannot be any systematic cruelty to animals employed). No, that isn’t perfect, but is is a saner way to look at the world than taking lobby groups messages and examples at face value.

      My point is that I do not agree with you that there is any cruelty to animals within the rodeo. I come from a farm; I know animals. Those animals I’ve seen, and even competed with, have not been under distress. I would have noticed if they were.

      But do we have the right to own animals and use them in sport or kill them and eat them etc etc? I say we do. If you disagree with this, then the rodeo is the least of your problem, as you would have the very concept of owning animals to do battle with not to mention a human race where the majority have no issue eating meat.

      This is my last message on this topic with you. I’d rather not have this commenting section be taken up by two people arguing for too long, and I doubt we will get much further. I think we both have had an opportunity to express where we stand. So thank you for your point of view, and for listening to mine.

Have you ever channelled your inner cowboy/cowgirl?

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