Don't Bully Animals!
It’s counter to the battle for civil rights for an oppressed group to demand fair treatment while abusing another group.Above: S.F. Bay Area Gay Rodeo Secretary Jason Strand violently twists a steer's head at the 2012 Las Vegas Gay Rodeo. If he did this to a dog, he could go to jail. Why is there a difference? It's the same type of "difference" that "justifies" the abuse and bullying of gay persons in the minds of some people.
Contact Bay Area Gay Rodeo sponsors and supporters here!
Animals used in rodeo are normally-docile creatures who don't naturally buck or enjoy being chased, ridden and wrestled by strangers. They are at risk for injury and death, and there was at least one fatally-injured steer at a Minnesota Gay Rodeo, according to Mercy for Animals. IGRA's Annual Convention minutes mention problems with injuries, deaths and even ringworm. Bay Area Gay Rodeo ("Best Buck in the Bay") organizers even brag about the pain and stress they cause, stating in their 2011 Events Guide, and formerly on their website, "...the unpredictable bull is known to come looking for the rider when the ride is completed." Deanna Trujillo-James with the Bay Area Gay Rodeo also brags, "It’s...all about wresting a 700-lb. animal with horns to the ground in a certain way, in under 60 seconds, and that steer doesn’t want to play with you in the first place." (epchalips.com, Aug. 27, 2012)
In the bucking events, animals are forced to violently jump and twist through the use of painful and annoying "bucking straps," cinched around them, spurs, and other techniques and devices (including electric prods and beatings well-document in "traditional" rodeos). Rodeo organizers often claim that bucking is "natural" and "fun" for the animals, but the International Gay Rodeo Association's (IGRA) own 2011 Annual Convention Meeting Minutes (page 30) confirm otherwise: "Flanks should be tied loosely [for 'Junior Bull' events only], the tighter these are tied, the more advanced moves the bull will make [i.e, the more the animal fights the discomfort and irritation]. Bulls may lay down in the chute if the rigging is pulled too tightly, letting the air out of the animal/restricting its breathing."
In the "calf-roping events," baby animals run for their lives as they are chased by men or women on horseback. They are violently thrown to the ground. According to the IGRA's 2011 Annual Convention Meeting Minutes (page 28), a calf's horn sheath was ripped off – this is extremely painful.
In the "goat dressing" event, animals are restrained and have their hind legs roughly and quickly jerked up to have underwear forced onto them. Goats have been observed limping afterward. “I don’t really know [if it bothers them]. I don’t speak goat.” —Paul “Popper” DuBray, Bay Area Gay Rodeo Director (San Francisco Examiner, April 1, 2012)
In "chute dogging" (or "steer wrestling"), animals' heads are violently twisted until they are forced to the ground. On two occasions when we asked rodeo organizers if this would be acceptable treatment for a dog, they disturbingly come up with examples where they claim to have done so, ostensibly for "training" or "self-defense." According to IGRA's 2012 Annual Convention Meeting Minutes (page 33), Chute Dogging cruelty has become a serious "public relations" issue for them, and they are struggling with how to "improve" the event rules.
Painful shocks from electric prods ("Hot Shots") are allowed (officially not while animals are in chutes). "Traditional" rodeos are routinely documented to use electric prods before releasing animals from chutes, to further force them to buck -- even in California, where it's illegal. In fact, IGRA's 2011 Annual Convention Meeting Minutes (page 29) mentions contractors for three of its rodeos not complying with electric prod rules.
Confused and frightened animals are trucked into the unfamiliar rodeo grounds and kept in small stalls, then forced into performing for our amusement and profit. Then, many of them are destined to go on to a frightening and painful death at a slaughterhouse.
Gay Rodeo has stricter rules than "traditional" rodeo (e.g., it requires break-away ropes in the mounted calf-roping events), but much of the same cruelty is still inherent (as described above), and it's well-documented that traditional rodeos routinely don't follow or enforce their own rules. Furthermore, they use the same stock contractors as traditional rodeos, so there's no reason to believe those contractors handle the animals differently, especially when IGRA's fines are only $50-$100. IGRA's Annual Convention Meeting Minutes confirm ongoing problems with stock contractors not following its rules.
As another group who has experienced oppression and abuse, let's show some respect and compassion for others who are weaker than us, and not harm them unnecessarily. Instead, let's use our creativity to re-define "Gay Rodeo" as a fun Country-Western-themed event without involving animals. There are already many fun events prior to the actual rodeo.
As the rodeo itself admits, feminists are already more conscious than others of the parallels of oppression and abuse of humans, and that of animals — a roadblock to recruitment of women for the rodeo. We hope to help even more people will think about this, and consider whether dominating animals in rodeo makes them feel "tough" after suffering bullying and oppression by other humans.
Disclaimer: though we realize that "traditional" rodeos are well documented to be extremely cruel and corrupt and we also campaign against them, "gay" rodeo is a subject close to gay animal advocates because members of our own community are responsible, because it reflects poorly on us, and because it's easier to put a stop to.
What You Can Do...
Boycott the rodeo until organizers decide to exclude "performing" animals from the festivities, and ask your friends to do the same.
Contact the sponsors and supporters and politely ask them to withdraw their support as long as animals are harmed in the rodeo, and inform them that you will boycott their businesses until they do so.
Post polite comments on the Bay Area Gay Rodeo's Facebook page here.