Underground Diaries, Part 6
A downside of hanging out with people to get inside their worlds (and decent video footage) is that you can come to appreciate them, and they you. Until you go and spoil it all by trying to be fair and balanced (maybe FOX NEWS isn’t such a good model after all).
With my gay rodeo feature, I couldn’t win. A friend of mine who is deeply involved in PETA practically disowned me for covering any rodeo, the following, critical piece on cowpokin’ notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, my beef didn’t exactly endear me to the gay rodeo-ers I hoped would get the word out about our gay rodeo feature…
In case you’re wondering, I do have a beef with gay rodeoin’. But it’s not the rampant violation of No Shirt, No Service policy I witnessed at the LA Gay Rodeo. I’ll wager the majority of the barebacked studs with six-pack abs I saw there had no trouble at all getting serviced — by complete strangers, even. And it doesn’t bother me one bit. Hell, I’m just grateful they’re gay; us straight dudes don’t need the competition.
No, my beef with gay rodeoin’ is the same as my beef with rodeoin’ in general, namely, that it’s mean to animals. Poor, dumb rodeo beasts get poked and prodded and whacked and ‘rassled and ridden against their wills and just generally tormented as a matter of course. It’s in the job description.
Now, there are no doubt plenty of rodeoers out there — straight and gay, alike — who will gladly pay extra for that kind of treatment. But they have a choice in the matter. Even if kink does exist in the animal kingdom (and I’m quite sure I’ve met a twisted creature or two in my day), kinky animals have no way of actually letting us know they’re consenting adults. And they sure as Shinola don’t have safe words.
To many people, rodeo is downright inhumane. Give PETA a call if you don’t believe me. Argue all you want about how PETA folk are nut jobs and that rodeo animals are actually treated very well. It’s a tough sell when, for the price of admission, one can view an afternoon of, say, bulldogging.
And yet, it is my experience that gays and lesbians can be — understandably — fairly rigorous where political correctness is concerned, both in their adherence to it and insistence upon it. There was nothing if not across-the-boards political correctness in effect among the gay rodeo organizers and participants I met.
What I want to know is, how does that square with such a politically incorrect pastime? Just asking. I don’t hold myself up as some paragon of virtue.
I was videotaping a couple of cowpokes — an old gay dude and young lesbian — herding steers at this year’s LA Gay Rodeo, when the old dude looks down at me and wants to know if I’m from PETA. I told him: “No way old gay dude, I’m no vegan pussy.” (Or something to that extent.)
I was so worried about making my old gay dude brother and young lesbian sister understand that I was cool — that I was down, that I wasn’t the enemy—that in that moment I became a collaborator: I was being all gay sensitive at the same time I was selling my animal kith and kin (not to mention my vegan friends) down the river. Or at least out to pasture.
To be fair, none of the beef I saw at the rodeo wound up in anyone’s burger that night — at least I don’t think it did. The animals were all healthy and well-cared for — when they weren’t being roped or wrangled.
I was informed that certain implements of torture, things like sharp spurs and burrs in the saddles or whatever traditional rodeo uses to make bulls more pissed off, are prohibited in gay rodeo. But that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of put-upon animals endured a fair amount of punishment.
Still, I’m not calling for an end to rodeo, gay or otherwise. But I do wonder how you reconcile humane fun with a rompin’, stompin’, gay-rodeoin’ good time. I trust someone will educate me further.
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