Inside the International Gay Rodeo

Photo Credit: courtesy of talks to veteran IGRA member and spokesman Tom Sheridan about the history of the gay rodeo, the appeal of the gay cowboy image, and the events you won't see anywhere else—steer decorating, anyone?

Can you give us some of the history of the International Gay Rodeo Association?

Phil Ragsdale started it in 1975. Phil was the court emperor in the national Imperial Court system back then, and he was looking for ways to raise money. He got together with some cowboys and said, We'll put on some entertainment if you'll do a rodeo. That was 30 years ago. Now we have 13,000 members throughout the United States and Canada. Back then the cause was muscular dystrophy, but now the IGRA raises money for lesbian and gay community needs, such as HIV. So far we've raised over five million dollars.