International Gay Rodeo Association

The International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), founded in 1985,[1] is the sanctioning body for gay rodeos held throughout the United States and Canada. They are the largest group coordinating rodeo events specifically welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) as well as heterosexual participants and spectators. IGRA is composed of many regional gay rodeo associations, and sanctions a season of rodeo events which culminates in an annual World Gay Rodeo Finals. IGRA events are intended to allow all competitors, regardless of sexual and gender identity, to compete in rodeo sports without discrimination. The organization helps spread appreciation for Western culture and the sport of rodeo, while serving as a fundraising vehicle benefiting many charitable organizations.[2]

Competitors compete for prize money and the title of All Around Cowboy and Cowgirl at each rodeo. The winners of each event receive trophy buckles designed by the hosting association. At season's end the contestants with the highest points in each event receive invitations to the World Gay Rodeo Finals presented by IGRA. The event was renamed in 2009 from the previous "International Gay Rodeo Finals" moniker it held from its onset in Hayward, California.

The original intent of these rodeos was fundraising, and while highly competitive and structured rodeos still serve the primary purpose of being fundraisers. The money raised at the rodeo is donated to the designated charities of each association. In total IGRA and all the associated associations have donated to furthering the individual causes of all charities that are benefactors of rodeo funds.

In 2010, the IGRA archives dating from 1975 were deposited in the library collection of the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, which also houses the Museum of the American West.[3][4]

The documentary film Queens & Cowboys follows the story of out cowboy, Wade Earp and others who compete in the IGRA. Earp discusses how he does not compete in rodeos outside IGRA because, "There’s still a lot of homophobia. As progressive as we think the world’s gotten, there’s so much we have to conquer." [5]

On November 9, 2014, CNN aired an episode of This Is Life with Lisa Ling that covered the Zia Regional Rodeo in Santa Fe, New Mexico, including profiles of several cowboys and cowgirls that are active on the IGRA circuit.[6]


The first gay rodeo was held as a charity fundraising event at the Washoe County Fairgrounds in Reno, Nevada on October 2, 1976.[7] The organizer, Phil Ragsdale, a member of the Imperial Court System, was the Court Emperor of Reno. In time, he came to be regarded as the "Father of Gay Rodeo."

Ragsdale came up with the idea of a holding a rodeo to raise money for the local Thanksgiving Day food drive for senior citizens. Over 125 people took part in the first rodeo, and the winners were crowned King of the Cowboys, Queen of the Cowgirls, and Miss Dusty Spurs (drag queen).[7] The National Reno Gay Rodeo title was officially created in 1977, when he founded the Comstock Gay Rodeo Association. Following the Imperial courts lead Ragsdale added the "Mr., Ms., and Miss National Reno Gay Rodeo" titles to aid in the fund raising that was to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. These titles still exist today but have been recognized as Mr., Ms., Miss., and MsTer International Gay Rodeo Association since the IGRA replaced the old National Reno format.

By 1984, the ninth and final National Reno Gay Rodeo brought out over 10,000 people to the rodeo grounds. The demise of the National Reno Rodeos is credited by the IRS as a dispute between the Gay Rodeo and the Washoe County Fairgrounds and the Sands Hotel. The rodeo books were also alleged to have been seized by the IRS.

History has recorded 14 gay rodeos (9 Reno rodeos, 3 Colorado rodeos, 1 Texas rodeo, and 1 California rodeo) prior to the formation of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). The IGRA became truly international in 1993 when the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association from Canada joined.

In September 1985 with 10 years of rodeo history behind it, groups of men gathered in Denver, Colorado to formulate the history of Gay Rodeo. The five founding states of the International Gay Rodeo Association were Colorado, Texas, California, and Arizona. These four associations seated the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association at its first convention held in the same year. The new Association elected Wayne Jakino from Colorado as its first President.

In 1987, IGRA’s first International Finals Rodeo was held in Hayward, California. The name was changed to the World Gay Rodeo Finals in 2009.

Conventions, Presidents, and Royalty

A list of presidents and royalty elected at annual conventions since IGRA was founded in 1985:[8]

Year / Rodeos HeldConventionPresidentMr. IGRAMs. IGRAMiss IGRA (drag queen)MsTer IGRA (drag king)Finals RodeoGrand Marshals
1985DenverWayne Jakino, CGRA----------
1986 / 5DenverWayne JakinoGary Oliver, CGRAJeannie Nelson, CGRAFritz Capone (Jim Freeman), OGRA------
1987 / 6AlbuquerqueLes Krambeal, OGRATony Lazano, TGRADee Godwin, OGRAMisty Michaels (Steve Rogers), KGRA--Hayward, CAShanti Project
1988 / 7Fort WorthLes Krambeal--------Reno, NV (see note below)Lynn Copeland & Wayne Jakino
1989 / 7AlbuquerqueGerald Ford, TGRAJerry Hubbard, GSGRAConnie Clovis, KGRAMagnolia Spirits (Buddy Sojourner), CGRA--Phoenix, AZEd Buck
1990 / 7WichitaLinn Copeland, KGRALarry Brumley, OGRALaura O'Neill, CGRAMoosala (Mark Church), AGRA--Phoenix, AZKatie Southwick
1991 / 10AlbuquerqueBob Pimentel, NMGRAScott Burleson, MGRALinda Sullo, GSGRAHollie Woods (David Anaya), AGRA--Wichita, KSThe Names Project
1992 / 13St. PaulBob PimentelJim Carter, OGRARC Cuellar, CGRARoxie Heart (John Kingston), KGRA--Phoenix, AZWayne Jakino
1993 / 16BillingsRoger Bergmann, GSGRARon Neff, CGRADee Zuspann, KGRAChili Pepper (Tony Valdez), TGRA--Fort Worth, TXGerald Ford
1994 / 21Little RockRoger BergmannJ.R. Duran, NMGRAJoanne Bawiec, ASGRAMiss Tessie (Tim Smith), SEGRA--Denver, COGreg Olson
1995 / 22ChicagoRoger BergmannMark Burdine, NMGRADesiree Gronwald, CGRADeShannon (Mitch Gill), TGRA--Denver, CORoger Bergmann
1996 / 20OmahaTom Vance, NSGRAMichael Vrooman, CGRAShugar Vigil, NMGRANaomi La'Rell (Quentin Sims), CGRA--Albuquerque, NMConnie Lee
1997 / 18Salt Lake CityTom VanceTommy Channel, CGRASherry Reedy, AGRATori Hart (Rohn Roldan), CGRA--Phoenix, AZTom Vance
1998 / 20BaltimoreLinda Frazier, KGRAKurt McGregor, AGRATamara Marks, MIGRABeverly DeMarco (Anthony D.), NMGRA--Phoenix, AZGlenn Gore
1999 / 19Long BeachLinda FrazierDouglas Graff, GSGRALaura Scott, NGRADeShannon (Mitch Gill), NGRA--Little Rock, ARRon Trusley
2000 / 17Las VegasCraig Allen Rouse, GSGRADaniel Lusk, ASGRALonni LaBel, ASGRAHarley Quinn (Michael Vrooman), ILGRA--Albuquerque, NMThom Sloan
2001 / 17Long BeachCraig Allen RouseMichael Cunningham, ILGRAErin Leavey, SEGRAVictoria London (Scott Tickler), AGRA--Palm Springs, CAJose Sarria, aka "The Widow Norton"
2002 / 19ClevelandCraig Allen RouseMark Larson, NSGRALize MacDonald, NGRABianca St John (Kenny Cunitz), CGRA--Wichita, KSFritz Capone
2003 / 19PhoenixCraig Allen RouseDavid Westman, CGRAMary Munger, CGRAJada McRae (Jay Carlson), ILGRA--Tulsa, OKPatrick Terry
2004 / 20DenverCraig Allen RouseEric Hanson, GSGRAJulie Brown, DSRAMandy Barbarell (Andrew Goodman), MGRA--Omaha, NETamara Marks
2005 / 20CalgaryBrian Helander, AGRAKen Pool, CGRAGaylia Young, AGRAPussy LeHoot (Kevin McSweeny), AGRA--Dallas, TXJames Ramey
2006 / 20NashvilleBrian HelanderSteve Wollert, GSGRAKimberley Kay, CGRAJymmye Jaymes (James Young), ASGRA--Reno, NVKeith Ann, Mitch Gill
2007 / 18Kansas CityBrian HelanderClyde Mitter, CGRA--Destiny B. Childs (Ric Legg), ASGRA--Denver, COWayne Jakino
2008 / 20New OrleansBrian HelanderGary Rushton, AGRA--Janet Jenkins, CGRA--Denver, COJohn King
2009 / 16TorontoBrian HelanderWade Earp, TGRASharon Starks, AGRAAspen Vail, (Steve Sublett) CGRARocket Coxx, (Jamie Light) CGRAAlbuquerque, NMLorrie Murphy
2010 / 17RenoBrian HelanderRoger Courtemanche, CGRA--Ionna Doublewide, AGRA--Laughlin, NV

Lorry King

2011 / 15San DiegoDoug Graff, NGRAMichael Butts, AGRASharon Starks, AGRAKimberli Foxx, NGRA--Fort Worth, TXDavid Hill
2012 / 15Las VegasDoug Graff, NGRARodd Smunk, TGRAKami Boles, MGRAVictoria Weston, TGRAShane Lee, MGRAFort Worth, TXFrank Harrell/Ty Teigen
2013 / 14San DiegoEd Barry, ILGRAFrank Thompson, OGRA--Sabel D’Zyre, NGRA--Fort Worth, TXMitch Gill
2014 / 13DenverEd Barry, ILGRAJeff Germany, OGRAPauline Chavez, CGRAKatrina Davenport, NGRARocki Heffa, TGRAFort Worth, TXJanie Van Santen
2015 / 11St PetersburgBruce GrosAndrew Johnson, CGRA--Luxx Bentley, OGRAPreston, NGRALas Vegas, NVBrian Rogers
2016 / 10AustinBruce GrosThomas McCarthy, FGRAMary Honeycutt, TGRAMadison Devereux, TGRAMacc Country, OGRALas Vegas, NVEd Berry
2017 / 11Little RockBruce GrosMark Christensen, OGRAAllyson Paige Henery, GPRAKelly ONeil, TGRA- -Albuquerque, NMTBD
2018 / TBA Salt Lake City Candy Pratt Tre' Brewbaker, NMGRA

1st RU- Chris Tobin CGRA

2nd RU- Tony Schwartz NSGRA

Tamra Kelly, TGRA,

1st RU Christi Mikels

Mipsy Mikels, AGRA

1st RU- Marie Antoinette DuBarryNMGRA

2nd RU- Phat Patty NGRA

RJ Mikels, AGRA Scottsdale, AZ TBA
  • Note: In 1988, "A contract with a private ranch sixty miles east of Reno was made void when the local homophobic District Attorney filed an injunction two days before the rodeo in order to stop the event. Two days in court as well as a trip to the Nevada Supreme Court failed to overturn the injunction," according to the IGRA website. As a result, no finals were held that year.[7]

Royalty Team

Like all traditional rodeos, IGRA rodeos also sponsor an annual royalty competition to determine the twelve individuals who will comprise the IGRA Royalty Team. Each fall the various associations send either their state winners or their first runners-up to compete for the Mr. (male that presents as male), Ms. (female that presents as female), Miss (male that presents as female), and MsTer (female that presents as male) International Gay Rodeo Association sashes.

A change to royalty competition rules in 2015 requires a contestant to compete in four of five categories. The five areas of competition are:

  • Personal Interview - Mandatory
  • Western wear modeling - Mandatory
  • Public Presentation and On-Stage Question - Mandatory
  • Horsemanship Skill - Required if not competing in Entertainment
  • Public Entertainment - Required if not competing in Horsemanship


Animal rights organizations such as Mercy for Animals,[9] Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK),[10] People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA)[11] and LGBT Compassion[12] criticize Gay Rodeo for being cruel to animals. In response to increased publicity given to critics of Gay Rodeo, IGRA published a press release stating that their animals are well-treated and handled in accordance with established ethical guidelines.[13]

State and Regional rodeo associations

Current associations

Rodeos under the IGRA umbrella are organized into four divisions (see map here [14]) and more than two dozen regional associations:

  • AGRA - Arizona Gay Rodeo Association, Phoenix, founded 1984[15]
  • includes the state of Arizona except for the southeastern counties covered by SGRA (see below)
  • ARGRA - Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association, Calgary, founded 1991[16]
  • includes Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan
  • includes Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and metropolitan New York City
  • includes Florida and Georgia
  • includes the state of Missouri other than those counties covered by GWGRA (see above)
  • includes Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • OGRA - Great Plains Rodeo Association (formerly Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association), Oklahoma City, founded 1985[34]
  • RRRA - Red River Rodeo Association, Aubrey, Texas, founded 2003[35]
  • SCCGRA - Sacramento's Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association, Sacramento, California[36]
  • includes the Sacramento area of California
  • SGRA - Sonoran Gay Rodeo Association, Tucson, Arizona[37]
  • includes southeastern Arizona counties of Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham, and Greenlee
  • TGRA - Texas Gay Rodeo Association, Fort Worth, founded 1984[38]
    • Austin Chapter[39]
    • Dallas Chapter[40]
    • Fort Worth Chapter[41]
    • Houston Chapter[42]
    • San Antonio Chapter[43]
      • includes the state of Texas except for several north-central counties covered by RRRA (see above)

Defunct associations

The following rodeo associations were once affiliated with IGRA but became inactive, and dissolved or reorganized:[44][45]

  • Pacific Coast Gay Rodeo Association (California), loosely organized in 1980; replaced by Golden State Gay Rodeo Association in 1984
  • Cowboy State Rodeo Association (Wyoming), founded 1988, name changed the following year to Big Sky Gay Rodeo Association (Montana); dissolved 1998
  • Oregon Gay Rodeo Association, seated at 1988 IGRA convention; replaced by Northwest Gay Rodeo Association in 1990
  • Utah Gay Rodeo Association, seated at 1989 IGRA convention; dissolved 2006
  • Northwest Gay Rodeo Association (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), seated at 1990 IGRA convention; reorganized as Pacific Northwest Gay Rodeo Association
  • Tri-State Gay Rodeo Association (Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky), founded 1990, dissolved 1995
  • Silver State Gay Rodeo Association (Nevada); reorganized as Nevada Gay Rodeo Association, 1992
  • Pennsylvania Gay Rodeo Association seated at 1995 IGRA convention; name and coverage changed to PONYGRA (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York Gay Rodeo Association) in 1999; dissolved 2007



Most associations host at least one annual rodeo. All associations must follow the rules of conduct as outlined in the IGRA Rodeo Rule Book, the first edition of which was published in 1985.[46] These rules are often updated and ratified at season's end when delegates from each association gather at the IGRA annual convention. The purpose of the convention is to elect new officers, create new rules and bylaws, and seat new associations.

Each of the thirteen events has a set of rules that must be followed in order for contestants to score points and to qualify for the year end finals. Unlike in traditional rodeos, contestants are allowed to compete in all events regardless of sex. Buckles are awarded to the top male and female competitors in each event, as well as buckles for Rookie of the Year and for All-Around Cowboy and All-Around Cowgirl.

Rough Stock Events

  1. Bull riding
  2. Steer riding
  3. Chute Dogging or Steer wrestling
  4. Bareback bronc riding (this is an optional event)

Roping Events

  1. Calf roping on Foot
  2. Mounted Breakaway roping
  3. Team roping

Speed Events

  1. Barrel racing
  2. Pole bending
  3. Flag Racing

Camp Events

  1. Wild Drag Race
  2. Goat Dressing
  3. Steer Decorating


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  2. "About Us," International Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 3 July 2011 Archived March 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Autry Libraries awarded NHPRC grant". 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  4. Hinton, Gregory. "Better Two than One: The Shirts from Brokeback Mountain," pp. 118-122 in The Brokeback Book: From Story to Cultural Phenomenon, ed. William R. Handley: Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2011 ISBN 978-0-8032-2664-7
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  13. "Animal Welfare". Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  14. Archived March 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. Arizona Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 3 July 2011 Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
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  17. "Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 3 July 2011". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  18. "Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 4 July 2011". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  19. "Cotton States Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 23 November 2015". Retrieved 2015-11-23.
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  21. Florida Gay Rodeo Association, accessed 4 July 2011 Archived September 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
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