Gordon, Closeup, Los Angeles, 1989
Chute, Dogging, Phoenix, 1989
Bareback, Bronco Riding, San Diego, 1992
Jerry, Burbank, 1989
Brian & Alberto, Hayward, 1989
Victory Kiss, Oklahoma City, 1989
Hollywood Style Cowboys, Sun Valley, 1991
Bullfighter with Children, Fort Worth, 1989
David Rodeo Clown, San Diego, 1990
Jim, Phoenix, 1990
Los Angeles Cowboys, Sun Valley, 1991
Eiteljorg Museum, Indianappolis, 2015
The Gay Rodeo
Artist Statement

I have been interested in Western culture and cowboys from an early age. Growing up in residential area of Seattle, my first exposure to rodeo came from television and books. I attended my first gay rodeo at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in 1988.

The sport, camaraderie, and atmosphere of this first rodeo experience transformed me. I was completely drawn to it and I had to be a part of it. I wanted to be a cowboy. For the next six months, my best friend Gordon and I traveled to every gay rodeo in the Western United States. Gordon, a graphic designer, started wearing Western clothes on a daily basis. I got my first pair of Wranglers and a cowboy hat. I became friends with many of the cowboys. I started participating in gay rodeo’s “camp events:” goat dressing, steer decorating, the wild drag race. These events were fun, but I became more interested in the traditional rodeo events, particularly bull riding.

At my fifth rodeo, with the encouragement of my new cowboy friends, I rode my first steer. I fell off almost immediately, but I was hooked. At the next rodeo, I stayed on the steer and completed my ride. From the beginning, I brought my camera to all the rodeos, but as a rodeo competitor, I now had inside access. I could shoot close to the action-down on the arena floor and behind the chutes. I began photographing seriously as I got more involved. For the next four years. I competed and photographed at most of the gay rodeos in the West. By the beginning of the 1989 season, I successfully completed my first bull ride. A year later, I became the 1990 Bull Riding Champion of the Year at the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) Finals in Phoenix. That was twenty years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I was a bull rider, but I was able to be part of this rodeo world that I loved and I have the silver belt buckle to prove it. These photographs represent a very special time in my life. I guess I never really considered myself a true “cowboy.” In the back of my mind I was always an observer-the photographer. Many of the cowboys, my close friends, are no longer with us. This work has never been exhibited. I now want to share these images for two reasons: to memorialize these great experiences in gay rodeo and to honor the real cowboys who competed.


Magnet West, The Enduring Allure of the American West in Photography, Figge Art Museum,Davenport, IA

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery, Seattle, WA

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo1988-1992, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, Rapid City Art Center, Rapid City, MO

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, University of Missouri Art Museum, St Louis, MO

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, Salina Art Center, Salinas, KS

Photographs from the Gay Rodeo 1988-1992, Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, IN