Gay or straight, do we all deserve the right to chase down a baby animal, slam it into the ground, tie it up and drag it by its neck?
It’s a cultural legacy that’s as American as genetically modified apple pie.
In addition to making sure animals get upset and afraid enough to try and throw people off of them, the rodeo can also be mighty homophobic. Which is why the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) offers a safe space for animal abuse.
The gay rodeo was also the recent subject of an episode of CNN‘s human interest show This is Life With Lisa Ling. We say “human” interest because Lisa doesn’t seem to give the animals’ lives a second thought. We don’t want to go full PETA on you, but the omission is worth a ponder.
In an interview with HuffPost, she further explains:
“[The gay rodeo] really has provided this incredible refuge for people who have wanted to hold on to their cowboy and cowgirl roots and hold on to that rough and tumble kind of masculinity but also live freely.”
And we definitely see both sides of it. To those gay people who feel a strong cultural connection with the rodeo, it must feel like a godsend to have an open space to be themselves.
But looking in from an outside perspective (which, OK, can be problematic), it’s hard not to see their traditions and events as being unnecessarily traumatic for the animals.
Here’s a clip from Lisa’s interview, where it’s clear the rodeo means the world to those involved:
And here’s an article from the Bay Area Reporter (a gay newspaper in California) from September of this year discussing the treatment of animals at the events. And there are lots of other articles and studies that echo it.
Could there perhaps be other ways of tapping into the “rough and tumble” masculinity without all that collateral damage?