Kissing cowboys: the queer rodeo stars bucking a macho American tradition

Photographer Luke Gilford couldn’t believe his eyes when he first stumbled across a gay rodeo. He set out to capture the joyous, tender, authentic world he saw there

A sought-after film-maker and photographer, to whom Barbara Kruger is a mentor and Pamela Anderson and Jane Fonda muses, Gilford cuts a striking figure. A New York Times profile that same year recounted how you could often catch a glimpse of him downtown, in a hand-me-down cowboy hat, football-style shoulder pads over his bare torso.

The headwear belonged to his father, a rodeo champion and subsequent judge in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Gilford was born in Colorado, and grew up watching his dad ride in snakeskin boots, a giant silver buckle gleaming at his waist. He gradually realised that he didn’t fit into this world, though. “The mainstream rodeo world is, you know, obviously, very homophobic and conservative. There’s so much machismo. It’s racist.”

So this chance encounter with a bunch of people who’d managed to do what seemed impossible to him was as exciting as it was discombobulating. “We all know what a rodeo is,” he says, “and we all know what queer is. We don’t think of them going together.” He set about exploring how they might.

The result is National Anthem, Gilford’s first photographic monograph – and, to his mind, a timely musing on the state of America. “We’re taught in school to recite the national anthem every morning. It has this aura of promise. But as we grow older, we realise this promise is kind of a myth. What I think is really beautiful, and so inspiring, about the queer rodeo community is that it brings back that aura of promise. It embraces both ends of the American cultural spectrum: people living on the land, but who are also queer.

“To begin with, it was very personal, a way to reconnect with a side of myself I had suppressed. But I started the project around the time Trump was elected. So it has felt really urgent to work on a wider scale beyond that personal level, to focus on what we all should be talking about and working towards.”

The first gay rodeo happened in the mid-1970s, as one of the more creative fundraisers by the Imperial Court System. This pioneering LGBT non-profit, now the second-largest in the US, uses charitable fundraising to build ties with communities. It is still run entirely by volunteers, on whom fanciful titles are bestowed. In 1975, Phil Ragsdale, then Emperor I of Reno, threw a benefit for a senior citizens Thanksgiving dinner. More than 100 people took part in this gay rodeo, as well as five cows, 10 calves, one pig and a Shetland pony. A King, a Queen and a Miss Dusty Spurs (the drag queen category) were crowned, and history was made.

Today, the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) has 15 member groups across the US, with one more in the Canadian Rockies. After meeting the Californian chapter, Gilford began saving up, planning to hit the circuit. “I was living in New York at the time. So I would fly to the south-west, rent a truck then travel around – to New Mexico, Utah, Colorado.”

The project is mostly portraiture, often close-up, with some shots against the backdrop of those fabled big skies and endless expanses. And Gilford was no outsider looking in: he clearly saw himself in the people he met. “We’re all from places that are still hostile to queerness.”

There is a lot of skin: shirtless torsos, a man shot from behind wearing little more than tasselled green chaps, a naked couple on a horse. But it isn’t erotica. In one particularly tender shot, a man in jeans and blue plaid rests his hand on his partner’s back, underneath the latter’s pale checkered shirt. “How often do you see something like that?” says Gilford. “Gay cowboys have long been fetishised in pornography, as in art, but this was completely authentic. It’s a real community. These are real lovers.”

Creating the pictures was a way for him to listen to people’s stories, to see their scars, to discover their beauty and contentment. “Usually when we hear about rural queerness it’s in a negative way,” he says. “It’s like something bad has happened – it’s the Matthew Shepard story. We don’t have examples, really, in pop culture of people who are queer and living real lives and living their best life.”

This certainly seems to apply to Priscilla Toya Bouvier – AKA Paul Vigil, AKA Miss IGRA 2019, AKA queer rodeo royalty – who frowns at the camera with thick, black lashes in a peach button down and turquoise beads, diamante crown catching the light of a low sun, sash festooned with as many buttons and badges as a piece of fabric can be. In another shot, an older white couple’s kiss is hidden by matching straw-coloured Stetsons. Bull-rider Lee, formerly known as Breana, holds up a bandaged right arm against a black sports bra, pale dirt and an even paler sky stretching out in the distance.

Lee is one of several portraits of people of colour, whose presence defies the commonly held misconception that rodeo – and by extension rural America – is exclusively white. It brings to mind the Compton Cowboys and other Black horsemen and women who rode through Houston and Oakland in a recent Black Lives Matter protest. Gilford points out that the queer rodeo is welcoming to anyone on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and beyond. “If you are black or brown or Asian and you do not feel safe in the mainstream rodeo spaces, you’re welcome at the queer rodeo, even if you’re not queer.”

He prizes this openness and doesn’t find it particularly common. “I’ve never totally identified with urban queer culture, which is about celebrating this escape, perhaps, from rural places. It’s about partying, consumerism, capitalism.” The queer rodeo world struck a different chord. “It is so much more about a connection to the land, to animals, to community.”

Gilford is best known for music videos and fashion spreads featuring glitzy showbiz high fliers: Lizzo, David Lynch, Christina Aguilera, as well as Fonda and Anderson. He doesn’t see this new work as a departure, though, given how full of spectacle and heightened emotion rodeo is. But he does think queer rodeo has a different energy to its straight counterpart. “Mainstream rodeo is so much more about danger and violence,” he says. “Here, it’s still a celebration, but one of love and care. Because these are people who have survived a certain kind of trauma and are now here to re-enact this traditional western performance, which is also a form of drag.”

The book opens with a quote by Black writer and trans rights activist Janet Mock about family as community, “a space where you don’t have to shrink yourself”. A couple of pages later, Gilford riffs on this notion, saying that “one of the great powers of the queer rodeo is its ability to disrupt America’s tribal dichotomies that cannot contain who we really are – liberal versus conservative, urban versus rural, ‘coastal elite’ versus ‘middle America’”.

National Anthem has also helped him to accept who he really is, a queer child of rural south-west America, a fact that lends his project greater poignancy. It’s a homecoming of sorts, a return to the land, a metaphor, a dream. “It’s the future,” he says, “the America we all dream of, being able to be whatever we want to be.”

National Anthem is published on 1 October by Damiani.

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Did you scroll all this way to get facts about gay cowboy art? Well you’re in luck, because here they come. There are 308 gay cowboy art for sale on Etsy, and they cost €15.33 on average. The most common gay cowboy art material is paper. The most popular color? You guessed it: white.

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Local dance group DC Cowboys may have been voted off of America’s Got Talent, but founder Kevin Platte sees a silver lining.

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One of my fav actors of all time Heath found dead today at his apt. in NY , they found sleeping pills with him.. He was 28 years old !

He has very amazing movies: 10 things I hate about you, Brokeback mountain, and there is an upcoming movie for him this July called “Dark Nights“ where he plays the Joker ..

NEW YORK – Heath Ledger, the talented 28-year-old actor who gravitated toward dark, brooding roles that defied his leading-man looks, was found dead Tuesday in a Manhattan apartment, face-down and naked at the foot of his bed with prescription sleeping pills nearby, police said.

There was no obvious indication that the Australian-born Ledger had committed suicide, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the SoHo apartment that is believed to be the home of the „Brokeback Mountain“ actor, Browne said. The massage therapist and a housekeeper found his naked body in the bed at about 3:30 p.m. They tried to revive him, but he was already dead.

„We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this accident,“ Ledger’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement Tuesday night. „This is an extremely difficult time for his loved ones and we are asking the media to please respect the family’s privacy and avoid speculation until the facts are known.“

Outside the building on an upscale street, paparazzi and gawkers gathered, and several police officers put up barricades to control the crowd of about 300. Onlookers craned their necks as officers brought out a black body bag on a gurney, took it across the sidewalk and put it into a white medical examiner’s office van.

As the door opened, bystanders snapped pictures with camera phones, rolled video, and said, „He’s coming out!“

An autopsy was planned for Wednesday, medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

While not a marquee movie star, Ledger was an award-winning actor who chose his roles carefully rather than cashing in on big-money parts. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in „Brokeback Mountain,“ where he met Michelle Williams, who played his wife in the film. The two had a daughter, now 2-year-old Matilda, and lived together in Brooklyn until they split up last year.

It was a shocking and unforeseen conclusion for one of Hollywood’s bright young stars. Though his leading man looks propelled him to early stardom in films like „10 Things I Hate About You“ and „A Knight’s Tale,“ his career took a notable turn toward dramatic and brooding roles with 2001’s „Monster’s Ball.“

„I had such great hope for him,“ said Mel Gibson, who played Ledger’s vengeful father in „The Patriot,“ in a statement. „He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss.“

Ledger eschewed Hollywood glitz in favor of a bohemian life in Brooklyn, where he was one of the borough’s most famous residents. „Brokeback“ would be his breakthrough role, establishing him as one of his generation’s finest talents and an actor willing to take risks.

Ledger began to gravitate more toward independent fare, including Lasse Hallstrom’s „Casanova“ and Terry Gilliam’s „The Brothers Grimm,“ both released in 2005. His 2006 film „Candy“ now seems destined to have an especially haunting quality: In a particularly realistic performance, Ledger played a poet wrestling with a heroin addiction along with his girlfriend, played by Abbie Cornish.

But Ledger’s most recent choices were arguably the boldest yet: He costarred in „I’m Not There,“ in which he played one of the many incarnations of Bob Dylan as did Cate Blanchett, whose performance in that film earned an Oscar nomination Tuesday for best supporting actress.

And in what may be his final finished performance, Ledger proved that he wouldn’t be intimidated by taking on a character as iconic as Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Ledger’s version of the „Batman“ villain, glimpsed in early teaser trailers, made it clear that his Joker would be more depraved and dark.

Curiosity about Ledger’s final performance will likely stoke further interest in the summer blockbuster. „Dark Knight“ director Christopher Nolan said earlier this month that Ledger’s Joker would be wildly different from Nicholson’s.

„It was a very great challenge for Heath,“ Nolan said. „He’s extremely original, extremely frightening, tremendously edgy. A very young character, a very anarchic presence that taps into a lot of our basic fears and panic.“

Ledger told The New York Times in a November interview that he „stressed out a little too much“ during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker, whom he called a „psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.“

„Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,“ Ledger told the newspaper. „I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.“ He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour, the paper said.

Ledger was a widely recognized figure in his Manhattan neighborhood, where he used to shop at a home and children’s store. Michelle Vella, an employee there, said she had frequently seen Ledger with his daughter carrying the toddler on his shoulders, or having ice cream with her.

„It’s so sad. They were really close,“ said Vella. „He’s a very down-to-earth guy and an amazing father.“

Before settling down with Williams, Ledger had relationships with actresses Heather Graham and Naomi Watts. He met Watts while working on „The Lords of Dogtown,“ a fictionalized version of a cult classic skateboarding documentary, in 2004.

Ledger was born in 1979 in Perth, in western Australia, to a mining engineer and a French teacher, and got his first acting role playing Peter Pan at age 10 at a local theater company. He began acting in independent films as a 16-year-old in Sydney and played a cyclist hoping to land a spot on an Olympic team in a 1996 television show, „Seat.“

After several independent films, Ledger moved to Los Angeles at age 19 and costarred opposite Julia Stiles in „10 Things I Hate About You.“ Offers for other teen flicks soon came his way, but Ledger turned them down, preferring to remain idle than sign on for projects he didn’t like.

„It wasn’t a hard decision for me,“ Ledger told the Associated Press in 2001. „It was hard for everyone else around me to understand. Agents were like, ‚You’re crazy,‘ my parents were like, ‚Come on, you have to eat.'“

He has very amazing movies: 10 things I hate about you, Brokeback mountain, and there is an upcoming movie for him this July called “Dark Nights“ where he plays the Joker ..

NEW YORK – Heath Ledger, the talented 28-year-old actor who gravitated toward dark, brooding roles that defied his leading-man looks, was found dead Tuesday in a Manhattan apartment, face-down and naked at the foot of his bed with prescription sleeping pills nearby, police said.

There was no obvious indication that the Australian-born Ledger had committed suicide, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the SoHo apartment that is believed to be the home of the „Brokeback Mountain“ actor, Browne said. The massage therapist and a housekeeper found his naked body in the bed at about 3:30 p.m. They tried to revive him, but he was already dead.

„We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this accident,“ Ledger’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement Tuesday night. „This is an extremely difficult time for his loved ones and we are asking the media to please respect the family’s privacy and avoid speculation until the facts are known.“

Outside the building on an upscale street, paparazzi and gawkers gathered, and several police officers put up barricades to control the crowd of about 300. Onlookers craned their necks as officers brought out a black body bag on a gurney, took it across the sidewalk and put it into a white medical examiner’s office van.

As the door opened, bystanders snapped pictures with camera phones, rolled video, and said, „He’s coming out!“

An autopsy was planned for Wednesday, medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

While not a marquee movie star, Ledger was an award-winning actor who chose his roles carefully rather than cashing in on big-money parts. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in „Brokeback Mountain,“ where he met Michelle Williams, who played his wife in the film. The two had a daughter, now 2-year-old Matilda, and lived together in Brooklyn until they split up last year.

It was a shocking and unforeseen conclusion for one of Hollywood’s bright young stars. Though his leading man looks propelled him to early stardom in films like „10 Things I Hate About You“ and „A Knight’s Tale,“ his career took a notable turn toward dramatic and brooding roles with 2001’s „Monster’s Ball.“

„I had such great hope for him,“ said Mel Gibson, who played Ledger’s vengeful father in „The Patriot,“ in a statement. „He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss.“

Ledger eschewed Hollywood glitz in favor of a bohemian life in Brooklyn, where he was one of the borough’s most famous residents. „Brokeback“ would be his breakthrough role, establishing him as one of his generation’s finest talents and an actor willing to take risks.

Ledger began to gravitate more toward independent fare, including Lasse Hallstrom’s „Casanova“ and Terry Gilliam’s „The Brothers Grimm,“ both released in 2005. His 2006 film „Candy“ now seems destined to have an especially haunting quality: In a particularly realistic performance, Ledger played a poet wrestling with a heroin addiction along with his girlfriend, played by Abbie Cornish.

But Ledger’s most recent choices were arguably the boldest yet: He costarred in „I’m Not There,“ in which he played one of the many incarnations of Bob Dylan as did Cate Blanchett, whose performance in that film earned an Oscar nomination Tuesday for best supporting actress.

And in what may be his final finished performance, Ledger proved that he wouldn’t be intimidated by taking on a character as iconic as Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Ledger’s version of the „Batman“ villain, glimpsed in early teaser trailers, made it clear that his Joker would be more depraved and dark.

Curiosity about Ledger’s final performance will likely stoke further interest in the summer blockbuster. „Dark Knight“ director Christopher Nolan said earlier this month that Ledger’s Joker would be wildly different from Nicholson’s.

„It was a very great challenge for Heath,“ Nolan said. „He’s extremely original, extremely frightening, tremendously edgy. A very young character, a very anarchic presence that taps into a lot of our basic fears and panic.“

Ledger told The New York Times in a November interview that he „stressed out a little too much“ during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker, whom he called a „psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.“

„Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,“ Ledger told the newspaper. „I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.“ He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour, the paper said.

Ledger was a widely recognized figure in his Manhattan neighborhood, where he used to shop at a home and children’s store. Michelle Vella, an employee there, said she had frequently seen Ledger with his daughter carrying the toddler on his shoulders, or having ice cream with her.

„It’s so sad. They were really close,“ said Vella. „He’s a very down-to-earth guy and an amazing father.“

Before settling down with Williams, Ledger had relationships with actresses Heather Graham and Naomi Watts. He met Watts while working on „The Lords of Dogtown,“ a fictionalized version of a cult classic skateboarding documentary, in 2004.

Ledger was born in 1979 in Perth, in western Australia, to a mining engineer and a French teacher, and got his first acting role playing Peter Pan at age 10 at a local theater company. He began acting in independent films as a 16-year-old in Sydney and played a cyclist hoping to land a spot on an Olympic team in a 1996 television show, „Seat.“

After several independent films, Ledger moved to Los Angeles at age 19 and costarred opposite Julia Stiles in „10 Things I Hate About You.“ Offers for other teen flicks soon came his way, but Ledger turned them down, preferring to remain idle than sign on for projects he didn’t like.

„It wasn’t a hard decision for me,“ Ledger told the Associated Press in 2001. „It was hard for everyone else around me to understand. Agents were like, ‚You’re crazy,‘ my parents were like, ‚Come on, you have to eat.'“

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ADDA’s FAVORITES & YOUR FAVES OF 2011-The ‚best‘ according to YOU the viewer and ADDA the photographer!

(223,000,000+ VIEWS ) with over 8,600 followers !!!

THANK YOU for visiting my virtual art gallery! Enjoy my social documentary photos of various events !

ADDA DADA’s photography presents a variety of adults at different public events . These photos do NOT imply the person’s sexual orientation in any way. Everyone was asked and they consented to be photographed.

Photos are properly marked SAFE or RESTRICTED ( 18+ only / nudity). There is NO porn, and, NO stolen photos on my site!

Viewers should be aware that these photos are viewed by a wide variety of folks . Inappropriate, RUDE, ‚X‘ or ‚R‘ rated comments shall be removed forthwith & you will be blocked.

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My Gay Geek Engagement (My Gay Geek Love Affair, #2) / My Gay Geek Love Affair

My Gay Geek Wedding (My Gay Geek Love Affair, #3) / My Gay Geek Love Affair

Genre: Gay Cowboy Romantic Fiction / Gay Western Romance M M Three stand alone gay cowboy stories in one anthology!Read about a gay cowboy ghost satisfying his urges after 150 years of waiting, best friends – one black, one white – both gay – coming together in the 1980’s, or a gay billionaire cowboy and his young muscled farm 22,900+ word Gay Cowboy Short Story Collection includes: Gay Ghost Cowboy Gay Interracial Cowboy Romance Gay Billionaire Cowboy Adventure Gay Ghost Cowboy (Gay Paranormal)While ghost hunting in Mallard Manor, James finds what he’s looking for… and then some. Willard Mallard, the house’s namesake, has been trapped between worlds for over 150 years. And he’s got pent up urges that need , it’s up to James to give Mallard the release he never felt in this world and help him pass on to the Interracial Cowboy Romance (MM Cowboy Romance)The 1980’s are a time of discovery and repression – love may be flourishing but certain types are viewed harshly. Interracial love affairs are bad enough, but homosexual attraction is deemed unnatural and even dangerous, especially in a small country town with more hang ups than people. When Tyrone and Mike, two ranch hands with muscles and love to spare find themselves irresistibly attracted to one another, they face challenges they can only fight together. In this unaccepting world, how can they possibly trust each other with their secrets? Gay Billionaire Cowboy Adventure (MM Cowboy Romance)Working the farm keeps Kevin in great shape and gives him plenty of chances to sneak a look at his muscular billionaire boss, Michael Travis. He’s rich, fit, smart… and unfortunately straight. Even if he was gay, there’s no way Michael would go out with a simple farm hand. Not everyone likes Michael and there are forces swirling meant to bring him down. When Kevin is drawn into such a scheme he has a choice. Either cave and indicate Michael in a fake gay scandal, or confess all to Michael… including his attraction.

Autor: Tabatha Christi 2015, EnglischVerlag: Tabatha ChristiISBN-10: 1513066102ISBN-13: 9781513066103Erscheinungsdatum: 08.08.2015

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