Gay rodeo

The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), founded in 1985,[1] is the sanctioning body for gay rodeos held throughout the United States and Canada. They are the largest group coordinating rodeo events specifically welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) as well as heterosexual participants and spectators. IGRA is composed of many regional gay rodeo associations, and sanctions a season of rodeo events which culminates in an annual World Gay Rodeo Finals. IGRA events are intended to allow all competitors, regardless of sexual and gender identity, to compete in rodeo sports without discrimination. The organization helps spread appreciation for Western culture and the sport of rodeo, while serving as a fundraising vehicle benefiting many charitable organizations.[2]

Competitors compete for prize money and the title of All Around Cowboy and Cowgirl at each rodeo. The winners of each event receive trophy buckles designed by the hosting association. At season's end the contestants with the highest points in each event receive invitations to the World Gay Rodeo Finals presented by IGRA. The event was renamed in 2009 from the previous "International Gay Rodeo Finals" moniker it held from its onset in Hayward, California.

The original intent of these rodeos was and still remains fundraising. The money raised at the rodeo is donated to the designated charities of each association. While highly competitive and structured, rodeos still serve the primary purpose of being fundraisers. In total IGRA and all the associated associations have donated much money in furthering the individual causes of all charities that are benefactors of rodeo funds.

In 2010, the IGRA archives dating from 1975 were deposited in the library collection of the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, which also houses the Museum of the American West.[3][4]


The first gay rodeo was held as a charity fundraising event at the Washoe County Fairgrounds in Reno, Nevada on October 2, 1976.[5] The organizer, Phil Ragsdale, a member of the Imperial Court System, was the Court Emperor of Reno. In time, he came to be regarded as the "Father of Gay Rodeo."

Ragsdale came up with the idea of a holding a rodeo to raise money for the local Thanksgiving Day food drive for senior citizens. Over 125 people took part in the first rodeo, and the winners were crowned King of the Cowboys, Queen of the Cowgirls, and Miss Dusty Spurs (drag queen).[5] The National Reno Gay Rodeo title was officially created in 1977, when he founded the Comstock Gay Rodeo Association. Following the Imperial courts lead Ragsdale added the "Mr., Ms., and Miss National Reno Gay Rodeo" titles to aid in the fund raising that was to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. These titles still exist today but have been recognized as Mr., Ms., Miss., and MsTer International Gay Rodeo Association since the IGRA replaced the old National Reno format.

By 1984, the ninth and final National Reno Gay Rodeo brought out over 10,000 people to the rodeo grounds. The demise of the National Reno Rodeos is credited by the IRS as a dispute between the Gay Rodeo and the Washoe County Fairgrounds and the Sands Hotel. The rodeo books were also alleged to have been seized by the IRS.

History has recorded 14 gay rodeos (9 Reno rodeos, 3 Colorado rodeos, 1 Texas rodeo, and 1 California rodeo) prior to the formation of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). The IGRA became truly international in 1993 when the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association from Canada joined.

In September 1985 with 10 years of rodeo history behind it, groups of men gathered in Denver, Colorado to formulate the history of Gay Rodeo. The five founding states of the International Gay Rodeo Association were Colorado, Texas, California, and Arizona. These four associations seated the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association at its first convention held in the same year. The new Association elected Wayne Jakino from Colorado as its first President.

In 1987, IGRA’s first International Finals Rodeo was held in Hayward, California. The name was changed to the World Gay Rodeo Finals in 2009.

Conventions, Presidents, and Royalty

A list of presidents and royalty elected at annual conventions since IGRA was founded in 1985:[6]

Year / Rodeos Held Convention President Mr. IGRA Ms. IGRA Miss IGRA (drag queen) MsTer IGRA (drag king) Finals Rodeo Grand Marshals
1985 Denver Wayne Jakino, CGRA -- -- -- -- --
1986 / 5 Denver Wayne Jakino Gary Oliver, CGRA Jeannie Nelson, CGRA Fritz Capone (Jim Freeman), OGRA -- -- --
1987 / 6 Albuquerque Les Krambeal, OGRA Tony Lazano, TGRA Dee Godwin, OGRA Misty Michaels (Steve Rogers), KGRA -- San Francisco Shanti Project
1988 / 7 Fort Worth Les Krambeal -- -- -- -- Reno (see note below) Lynn Copeland & Wayne Jakino
1989 / 7 Albuquerque Gerald Ford, TGRA Jerry Hubbard, GSGRA Connie Clovis, KGRA Magnolia Spirits (Buddy Sojourner), CGRA -- Phoenix Ed Buck
1990 / 7 Wichita Linn Copeland, KGRA Larry Brumley, OGRA Laura O'Neill, CGRA Moosala (Mark Church), AGRA -- Phoenix Katie Southwick
1991 / 10 Albuquerque Bob Pimentel, NMGRA Scott Burleson, MGRA Linda Sullo, GSGRA Hollie Woods (David Anaya), AGRA -- Wichita The Names Project
1992 / 13 St. Paul Bob Pimentel Jim Carter, OGRA RC Cuellar, CGRA Roxie Heart (John Kingston), KGRA -- Phoenix Wayne Jakino
1993 / 16 Billings Roger Bergmann, GSGRA Ron Neff, CGRA Dee Zuspann, KGRA Chili Pepper (Tony Valdez), TGRA -- Fort Worth Gerald Ford
1994 / 21 Little Rock Roger Bergmann J.R. Duran, NMGRA Joanne Bawiec, ASGRA Miss Tessie (Tim Smith), SEGRA -- Denver Greg Olson
1995 / 22 Chicago Roger Bergmann Mark Burdine, NMGRA Desiree Gronwald, CGRA DeShannon (Mitch Gill), TGRA -- Denver Roger Bergmann
1996 / 20 Omaha Tom Vance, NSGRA Michael Vrooman, CGRA Shugar Vigil, NMGRA Naomi La'Rell (Quentin Sims), CGRA -- Albuquerque Connie Lee
1997 / 18 Salt Lake City Tom Vance Tommy Channel, CGRA Sherry Reedy, AGRA Tori Hart (Rohn Roldan), CGRA -- Phoenix Tom Vance
1998 / 20 Baltimore Linda Frazier, KGRA Kurt McGregor, AGRA Tamara Marks, MIGRA Beverly DeMarco (Anthony D.), NMGRA -- Phoenix Glenn Gore
1999 / 19 Long Beach Linda Frazier Douglas Graff, GSGRA Laura Scott, NGRA DeShannon (Mitch Gill), NGRA -- Little Rock Ron Trusley
2000 / 17 Las Vegas Craig Allen Rouse, GSGRA Daniel Lusk, ASGRA Lonni LaBel, ASGRA Harley Quinn (Michael Vrooman), ILGRA -- Albuquerque Thom Sloan
2001 / 17 Long Beach Craig Allen Rouse Michael Cunningham, ILGRA Erin Leavey, SEGRA Victoria London (Scott Tickler), AGRA -- Palm Springs Jose Sarria, aka "The Widow Norton"
2002 / 19 Cleveland Craig Allen Rouse Mark Larson, NSGRA Lize MacDonald, NGRA Bianca St John (Kenny Cunitz), CGRA -- Wichita Fritz Capone
2003 / 19 Phoenix Craig Allen Rouse David Westman, CGRA Mary Munger, CGRA Jada McRae (Jay Carlson), ILGRA -- Tulsa Patrick Terry
2004 / 20 Denver Craig Allen Rouse Eric Hanson, GSGRA Julie Brown, DSRA Mandy Barbarell (Andrew Goodman), MGRA -- Omaha Tamara Marks
2005 / 20 Calgary Brian Helander, AGRA Ken Pool, CGRA Gaylia Young, AGRA Pussy LeHoot (Kevin McSweeny), AGRA -- Dallas James Ramey
2006 / 20 Nashville Brian Helander Steve Wollert, GSGRA Kimberley Kay, CGRA Jymmye Jaymes (James Young), ASGRA -- Reno Keith Ann, Mitch Gill
2007 / 18 Kansas City Brian Helander Clyde Mitter, CGRA -- Destiny B. Childs (Ric Legg), ASGRA -- Denver Wayne Jakino
2008 / 20 New Orleans Brian Helander Gary Rushton, AGRA -- Janet Jenkins, CGRA -- Denver John King
2009 / 16 Toronto Brian Helander Wade Earp, TGRA Sharon Starks, AGRA Aspen Vail, (Steve Sublett) CGRA Rocket Coxx, (Jamie Light) CGRA Albuquerque Lorrie Murphy
2010 / 17 Reno Brian Helander Roger Courtemanche, CGRA -- Ionna Doublewide, AGRA -- Laughlin, NV


2011 / 15 San Diego Doug Graff, NGRA Michael Butts, AGRA Sharon Starks, AGRA Kimberli Foxx, NGRA -- Fort Worth --
2012 / 15 Las Vegas Doug Graff, NGRA Rodd Smunk, TGRA Kami Bowles, MGRA Victoria Weston, TGRA Shane Lee, MGRA Fort Worth --
2013 / 14 San Diego Ed Barry, ILGRA Frank Thompson, OGRA -- Sabel D’Zyre, NGRA -- Fort Worth --
2014 / 14 Denver Ed Barry, ILGRA Jeff Germany, OGRA Pauline Chavez, CGRA Katrina Davenport, NGRA Rocki Heffa, TGRA Fort Worth --
  • Note: In 1988, "A contract with a private ranch sixty miles east of Reno was made void when the local homophobic District Attorney filed an injunction two days before the rodeo in order to stop the event. Two days in court as well as a trip to the Nevada Supreme Court failed to overturn the injunction," according to the IGRA website. As a result, no finals were held that year.[5]

Royalty Team

Like all traditional rodeos, IGRA rodeos also sponsor an annual royalty competition to determine the twelve individuals who will comprise the IGRA Royalty Team. Each fall the various associations send either their state winners or their first runners-up to compete for the Mr., Ms., Miss, and Mster International Gay Rodeo Association sashes.

The five areas of competition are:

  • Personal Interview
  • Horsemanship Skill
  • Western wear modeling
  • Public Presentation and On-Stage Question
  • Public Entertainment

State and Regional rodeo associations

Current associations

Rodeos under the IGRA umbrella are organized into four divisions (see map here [7]) and more than two dozen regional associations:

  • AGRA - Arizona Gay Rodeo Association, Phoenix, founded 1984[8]
  • includes the state of Arizona except for the southeastern counties covered by SGRA (see below)
  • ARGRA - Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association, Calgary, founded 1991[9]
  • includes Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan
  • includes Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and metropolitan New York City
  • includes St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, and Lincoln County
  • includes Washoe County
  • Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Northhampton, Lancaster, Berks, York, Lebanon, and Dauphin counties
  • MIGRA - Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association, Dearborn, founded 1994[25]
  • MGRA - Missouri Gay Rodeo Association, Kansas City, Kansas, founded 1986[26]
  • includes the state of Missouri other than those counties covered by GWGRA (see above)
  • NGRA - Nevada Gay Rodeo Association, Las Vegas, founded 1992[27]
  • includes the state of Nevada other than Washoe County, covered by HSGRA (see above)
  • includes Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • includes western Oklahoma
  • PNWGRA - Pacific Northwest Gay Rodeo Association, St. Regis, Montana[31]
  • includes Idaho, Oregon, and Washington
  • RRRA - Red River Rodeo Association, Aubrey, Texas, founded 2003[32]
  • SCCGRA - Sacramento's Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association, Sacramento, California[33]
  • includes the Sacramento area of California
  • SMRA - Smoky Mountain Rodeo Association, Nashville, Tennessee, founded 2003[34]
  • includes Kentucky and Tennessee
  • SGRA - Sonoran Gay Rodeo Association, Tucson, Arizona[35]
  • includes southeastern Arizona counties of Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham, and Greenlee
  • SSRA - Sooner State Rodeo Association, Tulsa, Oklahoma[36]
  • includes the northeastern Oklahoma counties of Kay, Osage, Pawnee, Washington, Nowata, Craig, Ottawa, Rogers, Mayes, Delaware, Adair, Cherokee, Wagoner, Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee, Muskogee, Sequoyah, Okfuskee, Hughes, Pittsburg, Haskell, Le Flore, Latimer, and McIntosh
  • TGRA - Texas Gay Rodeo Association, Fort Worth, founded 1984[37]
    • Austin Chapter[38]
    • Dallas Chapter[39]
    • Fort Worth Chapter[40]
    • Houston Chapter[41]
    • San Antonio Chapter[42]
      • includes the state of Texas except for several north-central counties covered by RRRA (see above)

Defunct associations

The following rodeo associations were once affiliated with IGRA but became inactive, and dissolved or reorganized:[43][44]

  • Pacific Coast Gay Rodeo Association (California), loosely organized in 1980; replaced by Golden State Gay Rodeo Association in 1984
  • Cowboy State Rodeo Association (Wyoming), founded 1988, name changed the following year to Big Sky Gay Rodeo Association (Montana); dissolved 1998
  • Oregon Gay Rodeo Association, seated at 1988 IGRA convention; replaced by Northwest Gay Rodeo Association in 1990
  • Utah Gay Rodeo Association, seated at 1989 IGRA convention; dissolved 2006
  • Northwest Gay Rodeo Association (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), seated at 1990 IGRA convention; reorganized as Pacific Northwest Gay Rodeo Association
  • Tri-State Gay Rodeo Association (Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky), founded 1990, dissolved 1995
  • Silver State Gay Rodeo Association (Nevada); reorganized as Nevada Gay Rodeo Association, 1992
  • Pennsylvania Gay Rodeo Association seated at 1995 IGRA convention; name and coverage changed to PONYGRA (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York Gay Rodeo Association) in 1999; dissolved 2007



Most associations host at least one annual rodeo. All associations must follow the rules of conduct as outlined in the IGRA Rodeo Rule Book, the first edition of which was published in 1985.[45] These rules are often updated and ratified at season's end when delegates from each association gather at the IGRA annual convention. The purpose of the convention is to elect new officers, create new rules and bylaws, and seat new associations.

Each of the thirteen events has a set of rules that must be followed in order for contestants to score points and to qualify for the year end finals. Unlike in traditional rodeos, contestants are allowed to compete in all events regardless of sex. Buckles are awarded to the top male and female competitors in each event, as well as buckles for Rookie of the Year and for All-Around Cowboy and All-Around Cowgirl.

Rough Stock Events

  1. Bull riding
  2. Steer riding
  3. Chute Dogging or Steer wrestling
  4. Bareback bronc riding (this is an optional event)

Roping Events

  1. Calf roping on Foot
  2. Mounted Breakaway roping
  3. Team roping

Speed Events

  1. Barrel racing
  2. Pole bending
  3. Flag Racing

Camp Events

  1. Wild Drag Race
  2. Goat Dressing
  3. Steer Decorating


External links

  • International Gay Rodeo Association - official website

Articles and interviews:

  • (Kansas City), 20 October 2005 lengthy interview with participants at an IGRA rodeo in Missouri
  • , 25 November 2005 interviews with participants at an IGRA rodeo in Mesquite, Texas
  • , 14 January 2006
  • , 24 February 2006
  • , 10 September 2009 interview with gay rodeo officials in San Diego
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