Gay rodeo promotes animal abuse, not community

RodeoFest 2011 (presented by the Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association) is promising a fun-filled weekend of entertainment later this month. However, for the animals involved in these shows, rodeos are anything but fun. In fact, most animals in the rodeo experience lives full of pain and abuse.

Rodeos are nothing more than manipulative displays of human domination over animals, thinly disguised as entertainment. IGRA rodeos include roughstock and roping events such as bull riding, calf roping and chute dogging (cruelly twisting a steer's head by holding onto her/his horns and wrestling the struggling animal to the ground). The animals used in these events are captive performers. Many of these animals are not aggressive by nature; they are physically provoked into displaying "wild" behavior in order to make the cowboys look brave.

RodeoFest will also feature events like goat dressing and steer decorating. In goat dressing, participants yank goats' hind legs off the ground and force underwear onto them. This is done as quickly as possible, making injuries more likely.

Rodeo cowboys voluntarily risk injury by participating in events, but the animals they use have no such choice. Countless animals in rodeos have suffered broken ribs, backs, and legs; punctured lungs; deep internal organ bruising; hemorrhaging; ripped tendons; torn ligaments and muscles; snapped necks; and agonizing deaths.

Torturing animals is no way to create community. And endorsing the infliction of violence on other beings does nothing to combat the discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression that we may face. Moreover, promoting rodeos sends a dangerous message that entertainment based on suffering and ridicule is not only allowed, it is encouraged. There are much more compassionate ways (that don't involve cruelty to animals) to strengthen our community and work to eradicate homophobia and transphobia. Please stand up to cruelty in all its forms, and boycott the rodeo.


Kate Brindle

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Editor's note: Kate's op-ed originally appeared online at on July 7.
  • Latest News

Enter To Win

Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more

Special Section: Pride Guide
Lake Effect

Hot off Season 7 of the LOGO channel's "Ru Paul's Drag Race" phenomenon, Darienne Lake of Season 6 spoke with Between the Lines about her upcoming hosting gig at Motor City Pride June 6.

View More Pride Guide
This Week's Issue

Download or view this week's print issue today!