Gay rodeo practices bucked by critics 

click to enlarge A traditional event in gay rodeos is two cowboys racing across the arena to put panties on a goat, something at least one critic has taken issue with. - MRMITCH-FLICKR (CC)
  • MrMitch-Flickr (CC)
  • A traditional event in gay rodeos is two cowboys racing across the arena to put panties on a goat, something at least one critic has taken issue with.

Organizers of San Francisco’s Best Buck in the Bay gay rodeo say they have taken strides to create an event that treats animals with respect, but activists have two words for them: Goat panties.

The practice of two cowboys racing down a dirt arena to quickly outfit the captive goats with dainty undergarments is unique to gay rodeos, and the group putting on this year’s show in mid-September in La Honda was the subject of protest Saturday outside a fundraiser for the event.

“It’s cruel,” said Andrew Zollman, who led the protest in front of the Powerhouse bar in South of Market. “It’s just a docile animal.”

Zollman also takes issue with the “chute dogging” event that has bulls being dragged to the ground by their heads, a common event at rodeos.

But Paul “Popper” DuBray, the rodeo director, says the content of the event has to be determined by the International Gay Rodeo Association, and he doesn’t feel the current attractions rise to the level of abuse. DuBray noted his rodeo’s use of breakaway lassos for calf roping events.

“I respect people’s opinions and respect what they have to say,” DuBray said. “At the same time, they also have to afford us the same opportunity and do what we feel passionate about. We have put things in place to keep the safety of the animals at the upmost.”

DuBray added that the goats don’t seem terribly bothered by wearing panties.

“They just sort of stand there,” he said. “I don’t really know. I don’t speak goat.”

Gay-rodeo standards require goats to be “rested” after every eight “dressings.”

Zollman also criticizes the group’s overall fundraising and spending structure, which was hit with a $24,000 embezzlement scheme by former treasurer Jeffrey Harper in 2010. DuBray said the rodeo has since taken measures to prevent future fraud, and that information on its finances is tough to nail down because many of its files were lost in the embezzlement.

According to the group’s nonprofit form filings, the event’s charitable contributions have fluctuated widely over the years. While the rodeo gave charitable grants of $5,750 and $14,808 in 2006 and 2007 respectively, it only gave a total of $4,000 between 2008 and 2010. In recent years, the cost of the event has been between $60,000 and $90,000, according to the forms.

“It seems like just a shell for them to have special events and keep it tax free,” Zollman complained.

His group, LGBT Compassion, also has been protesting the rodeo’s backers, including a winery that canceled its sponsorship in October. The group previously catalyzed the shutdown of live chicken sales at The City’s Civic Center farmers market and others.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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