“Queens and Cowboys: A Straight Year on the
Gay Rodeo” is Matt Livadary’s affectionate portrait of several LGBT members of
the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA). Livadary shows that in contrast
to the mythic image of cowboys, being openly gay does not make anyone less of a
His film is
notable for being inclusive. Among the half-dozen subjects profiled are
transgender and HIV+ riders who take their rodeo as seriously as the drag
queens and straight guys who participate in IGRA events.
engaging subjects include Wade Earp, a descendent of Wyatt Earp, who dreams of
winning his first All-Around Cowboy buckle; Char, a bull rider who want to win
her first buckle; Chris, a bullied student from Oklahoma, who found an outlet
for his interests in gay rodeo; and Travis, who hopes to raise enough funds to
put on his San Francisco-based rodeo event this year.
selected a strong cross section of rodeo folks as these men and women suffer
setbacks and injuries as they try to achieve their dreams. Char likens bull
riding to a scary as a rollercoaster, only with no seat belts and only a grip
for holding on with one hand. It is impossible not to root for her, or share
her mother and girlfriend’s fear as Char tries to ride a bull for six seconds.
goal is to beat his rival, David Renier, for All-Around Cowboy. Renier is a
handsome, soft-spoken competitor, who works hard in the arena. Watching him beat
Wade in event after event by tenths of seconds is disheartening.
Livadary also addresses
the need to keep the IGRA alive, as both funding and finding new and young
members is proving difficult given that the organization has lost more chapters
than are active.
The film also
addresses the discrimination the gay rodeo circuit and its members face. Arenas
decline to host IGRA events, and one interviewee indicates that he cannot get
hired if it is known that he has worked on the gay rodeo circuit.
But “Queens and
Cowboys” is best when it shows the inspiring men and women who ride and rope in
action. The film celebrates the community that is the IGRA. Whether it is a
fundraiser for a member battling cancer, or the way Chris speaks of the
acceptance he feels in the gay rodeo, these moments emphasize the importance
this subculture has for these folks who take their vacation time to drive days
to compete in events.
For anyone who
has never attended a gay rodeo, this heartfelt film is the next best thing to
“Queens and Cowboys” is playing at
Mountain Film, Friday, November 21 at 6:00 pm at the Francesca Beale Theater.
For tickets and more information, click here. There is a reception open to filmgoers after the film.