Texas Gay Rodeo Association celebrates thirty years.
by Donalevan Maines
If you can rope ’em, you can ride ’em when about 2,500 cowboys and cowgirls converge on the Pasadena Fairgrounds this month for the Texas Gay Rodeo Association’s annual state competition.
TGRA’s XXX Year 2013 Texas Tradition Rodeo takes place at 7902 Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena, says rodeo organizer Michael Lee, who lives in the Heights. “This year means a lot because the first one was held here,” says Lee, referring to the TGRA rodeo thirty years ago in Simonton, about forty miles west of Houston in Fort Bend County.
“Back then, the way it played out, they wouldn’t let us hold it in the bigger cities,” he explains. “We ran into problems: not available or they made it so expensive. That slowly changed over the years, and we don’t have as many hurdles anymore.”
“This being the thirty-year anniversary, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be phenomenal,” says Felicia Flores Wild, who reigns as Ms. TGRA 2013. She won the title at last fall’s state meeting, with her partner, Gay Nell Gulhur (Ms. TGRA 2012), crowning her.
Houston has hosted the TGRA rodeo five times, but not since 2005, says Lee, who’s in his sixth year as president of the group’s Houston chapter.
Lee was born in Robstown, near Corpus Christi, a middle child among twelve children: nine boys, including a twin brother, and three girls.
“We did live in rural areas, but I didn’t get into rodeos until I was living in Dallas,” he says.
There, Randy Edlin and Frank Elam taught him how to compete in chute dogging and steer decorating, which are among the rodeo events in which the top three winners win cash, and fourth- and fifth-place contestants nab ribbons.
“In chute dogging, you’re in a chute with a steer with your arm around one of the horns and the other one below its mouth,” Lee explains. “When they open the gate, you have to get the steer past a ten-foot line, and then you gotta dog the steer down, [which means wrestling it to the ground].
“In steer decorating, you got two people,” he says. “Once the steer crosses the ten-foot line, one person has to tie a ribbon around its tail, while the other removes the rope from the steer’s horns.”
If all that sounds clear as mud, Edlin hosts a Rodeo School and Safety Class that begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 15, at the Pasadena Fairgrounds. Steer riding and calf roping on foot are also taught. The fee is $15 per event or $50 for all four events.
Registration for the TGRA Rodeo School starts at 8:30 a.m., or students can reserve a space at tgra.org.
IGRA-sanctioned rodeos such as TGRA provide three rough stock events (bull riding, steer riding, and chute dogging, with bareback bronc riding an optional fourth rough stock event), three roping events (calf roping on foot, mounted breakaway roping, and team roping), three speed events (barrel racing, pole bending, and flag race) and three camp events (steer decorating, wild drag race, and goat dressing).
At IGRA-sanctioned rodeos throughout the year, contestants accumulate points to earn an invitation to compete at the IGRA finals.
Wild, a 1999 graduate of Bellaire High School, competed last year in
calf roping on foot as well as goat dressing, partnering with Chap Torian
of Houston, who was first runner-up to Mr. TGRA 2013.
Both Wild and Torian have announced their candidacies for Ms. International Gay Rodeo and Mr. International Gay Rodeo, which are competitions at the upcoming IGRA Rodeo to be held in October in Fort Worth.
“My partner introduced me to the rodeo scene,” says Wild, explaining that she and Gulhur met in May 2010. “We started dating in October 2010 and have been together ever since.”
Last year, Wild traveled to the other four cities that have TGRA chapters—Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio—helping raise money for charity.
To claim the Ms. TGRA title, Wild competed in several events. On the first night, she answered an onstage question, modeled Western wear, and sang live. “My talent number was ‘You Can Let Go, Daddy’ by Crystal Shawanda.”
In an interview the next day, she was asked twenty-five questions that tested her knowledge of TGRA history, rodeo events, and current events. She was also judged on a video of her horsemanship. “We were given a pattern: you walk, trot, lope, and walk again, and you have to back the horse in a straight line.”
In addition to rodeo events, the weekend includes activities at Brazos River Bottom, E/J’s, and Two Cities Bar and Grill. For further information, see the schedule at tgra.org.
What: TGRA’s XXX Year 2013 Texas Tradition Rodeo
When: March 15–17
Where: Pasadena Fairgrounds, 7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena
Donalevan Maines also writes about Victory Fund’s Brian Sims in this issue of OutSmart magazine.