About 1,000 people watched bull riding, a wild drag race, and other events at a gay rodeo in Sparks, Nev., over the weekend. Sixty-eight competitors took part in the High Sierra Rodeo Association's
Comstock Stampede Rodeo at the Gandolfo Rodeo Arena. The rodeo drew spectators from across the country, including Jymmye Jaymes of Alexandria, Va., who is queen of the Atlantic States Gay Rodeo Association.
"Rodeo is a big family," said Jaymes, 53, who has been a drag queen for 27 years. "You see people you haven't seen for a while."
While Texas is conservative, Anne Budd of San Antonio said, it has accepted gay rodeo. "I am who I am because God made me that way," said Budd, who is Miss Texas Gay Rodeo. "And God does not make mistakes."
Jo and Ann Kenny, who live on a small ranch near Marysville, Calif., took advantage of the trip to Reno to get hitched at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino. Nevada does not recognize such unions.
Ann, a construction supervisor, competed in the rodeo. Jo, a nurse, helped with competitors' cuts and scrapes as a rodeo volunteer. "For one cowboy, I glued his head back together so he could finish his
weekend events," Jo told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Other events were steer roping, chute dogging, and barrel racing.
Proceeds from the rodeo will go to the Hopes Food Bank in Reno for people with the HIV virus and children with AIDS, said Mitch Gill, High Sierra rodeo president. All gay rodeos donate proceeds to charity.
About 5,000 people are expected for the International Gay Rodeo Association Finals in Reno in November 2006. It will mark the rodeo's 30th anniversary since it began in Reno in 1976. (AP)