This summer’s GAY GAMES 9 in Akron, Ohio are planning to bring a variety of sporting events to the region for gay & lesbian travelers. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are plans for a gay rodeo during the Games. The International Gay Rodeo Association, Inc. (IGRA) will be hosting a rodeo on August 10-11, 2014. They provided me with a lot of answers to my questions, notably WHAT IS A GAY RODEO?! Read on…

gay rodeo
View more gay rodeo photos on the IGRA website

What is IGRA?

IGRA and its member associations across the US and Canada have been holding rodeos for over 30 years. There are roping events, speed events such as barrel racing on horseback, bull and steer riding, bucking broncs and camp events.

What makes a gay rodeo different than any other rodeo?

Camp events are unique to gay rodeo. Gay Rodeo beginners can participate in Goat Dressing, Steer Decorating and Wild Drag Race. Two beginner events are included in every gay rodeo for contestants who do not own horses.  These are ‘Calf Roping on Foot’ and ‘Chute Dogging.’

  • ‘Calf Roping on Foot’ gives the contestant a chance to rope a calf as it runs out of a chute, and helps to train contestants for eventually roping on horseback.
  • ‘Chute Dogging’ is a type of steer wrestling where the contestant must “dog” a steer cleanly onto its side with all 4 feet off the ground.

Gay rodeos have many safety provisions to prevent injuries to the animals and the contestants.  For this reason, the gay rodeo events are not precisely the same as straight rodeo events.  Animal welfare and contestant safety are top priorities.

What can you learn in a Rodeo School?

Experienced IGRA cowboys and cowgirls will coach new contestants the basic skill for Calf Roping on Foot, Chute Dogging, Steer Riding, Goat Dressing, Steer Decorating, and Wild Drag Race.  You will learn about each event, practice the skills, and then have a chance to practice it under real rodeo conditions with the coaches helping.

Do you need to bring a team?

Not for the individual events. If you want to enter the camp events, you will need one or two partners. IGRA will try to match up partners among the people who attend Rodeo School, but if you bring teammates you can definitely enter. Wild Drag Race requires a team of 3, at least one of which must be a woman.

Can women and men enter all events?

Yes, women and men can enter all events, equally.  Individual events have a division for women and one for men, but in team events, everyone competes together.

Will there be country-western music and dancing?

Yes, and there will even be dance lessons for beginner couples and line dancers and a huge Country and Western Dance on Monday Night August 11, 2014.

Could you win a buckle?

Yes, there are several beginners who have won buckles in an event after going to rodeo school.

How difficult are the gay rodeo events?

They are simple but not always easy. Every rodeo event is challenging because the animals are unpredictable. Calf Roping on Foot is challenging but not strenuous and anyone can participate if they can stand and swing a rope. Chute Dogging is very strenuous and you should be in condition for up to one minute of maximum strain. Goat Dressing is a sprint race and timed event. Steer Decorating is very strenuous for the person handling the head of the steer, and can be demanding on the second person also. Wild Drag Race is fun but can also be very strenuous.  All of the events involving steers can be hazardous to contestants, as the steers are somewhat unpredictable. They can step on your feet, knock you over, or buck you off. Safety equipment should be worn and may be available to borrow from other contestants. Everyone is encouraged to use helmets and vests.

Cowboy boots, long pants, long sleeved western shirts and cowboy hats are required for safety and authenticity.

Visit www.gaygamesrodeo.org and www.igra.com to learn more. Registration with IGRA is necessary in order to participate in the gay rodeo.