June is Pride Month, so we’re taking a look at an organization that is dedicated to the positive promotion of the LGBTQ+ western lifestyle: The International Gay Rodeo Association.
“… it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, a butch or nelly — everybody can find a place within our community, within our rodeo circuit. That’s who we are,” said Bruce Gros, President of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) in an interview with Great Big Story.
This quote sums up what IGRA is really about. A 501(c)(3), the IGRA allows all contestants, regardless of sexual and gender identity, to compete in rodeo sports without discrimination. The goal of the organization is to help spread appreciation for western culture and the sport of rodeo, while serving as a way to raise funds for charitable organizations.
The organization itself is made up of numerous regional Gay Rodeo Associations from across the United States and Canada. IGRA got its start in 1976 at the National Reno Gay Rodeo in Nevada. Over the next eight years, associations formed in Colorado, Texas, California and Arizona. In 1985, these organizations teamed up with one in Oklahoma to form the IGRA. Since then, IGRA has expanded and is now committed to promoting fellowship and good sportsmanship, education, animal welfare and giving back to the community.
IGRA offers a variety of events — some are traditional rodeo events and others are a bit more creative. Among the traditional contests are the rough stock events (bull riding, ranch saddle bronc riding, steer riding and chute dogging), roping events (calf roping, break away roping and team roping) and speed events (barrel racing, pole bending, flag race). The more creative, or camp events, include steer decorating, wild drag race and goat dressing. Each event, whether a camp event that’s an audience favorite or a traditional rodeo contest, is highly competitive with legitimate payouts.
But more than anything, IGRA is, according its website,
“… a safe place, where all genders and orientations are celebrated and welcomed. We are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, straight and gay. We are diverse. We truly represent every color of the rainbow. Come play with us and be yourself, without fear of prejudice or discrimination.”
Take a closer look at IGRA with this video from Great Big Story:
Happy Pride Month, go rodeo and go riding!