Interview with Amy Griffin

Denver, Colorado on November 22, 2019 | Interviewer: Revulai Detiv

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Revulai Detiv: Hello, this is Revulai Detiv. I’m here with Amy. We are at the IGRA convention on the 22nd of October—
Amy Griffin: —November.
RD: Oh, sorry. 22nd of November. Thank you. [Laughs] In Denver, Colorado. And so, I guess just to begin, where’d you grow up?
AG: I grew up in San Francisco. I was born in Michigan. But…marriages and divorces and so forth, and ended up in San Francisco when I was seven, and stayed there until after college.
RD: What was your childhood like?
AG: [Quiet laugh] It was pretty chaotic. My father was the, uh, marrying kind—and also the divorcing kind. So, he was married quite a lot. I have one brother who’s two years younger. Nothing unusual, really.
RD: Okay. Do you feel like talking more about the kind of divorce/marriage thing?
AG: It's whatever you want.
RD: —Oh.
AG: —I mean…my parents were married for six years, and my dad did something pretty unforgivable. And my mother picked my brother and me up (and she was very tiny, so it was like, I don't know, if she got like Incredible Hulk strength or something) and carried us out of the house in the middle of winter and pretty much never looked back. She remarried, they moved. We moved with them to Dallas. And then at some point, I guess I was about six, she decided she was going to leave her second husband and wanted my brother and I to be safe when that happened.
AG: So, she called my father, who was then in Minneapolis and said, “Hey, can you come and take the kids for two weeks, ‘cause I need to take care of some stuff?” And we woke up the next morning, and my dad was sitting there. We hadn't seen him for three years, and it was sort of like, “What's he doing here?” We went back to Minneapolis with him, found out he had a new wife. Then he wouldn't let us go back to my mother. And we moved to San Francisco. He got divorced. He got married again. He got divorced. He moved to Texas. I stayed in California. He got married again. He got divorced. And by that point, I was in graduate school. So, it was sort of—I was kind of out of the picture. But he spent, I don't know, the last 15 years of his life in Texas. But San Francisco, that's where I consider home. I don't live there now, but that's where I grew up.
RD: You mentioned graduate school, what did you study?
AG: Uh, art history.
RD: Oh, great.
AG: I…funnily enough, went to PhD school.
RD: Oh, nice.
AG: Did that, and when that was done, I…Well, I lived in Scotland for many years. Most of the 80s. And then I moved to Los Angeles, where I’ve lived for almost 30 years now.
RD: Wow. What was life like in Scotland?
AG: It was fantastic. It was beautiful. Very cold, very damp. But the people are magnificent, and it's just a different…In my experience, people have a greater appreciation of the little things in life and are less…socioeconomically competitive. And I would still be there, but, at the time, all the things that one would think would make me an attractive candidate for permanent residency actually worked against me: being from an allied country, native English speaker, highly educated, Caucasian. They were all negative marks. So, when I finally gave up and said, “You know, OK, this is—I'm gonna have to leave.” And so, I moved to Los Angeles and started a new career, and I've been there now…yeah, it'll be 30 years on December 1st.
RD: Oh, wow. Well, congratulations.
AG: Thanks. [Laughs]
RD: What kind of career?
AG: I work in legal administration. I'm an administrator for a nonprofit law firm. And I've been in my current job…I'm in my twenty eighth year. So I'm, you know, reasonably stable.
RD: For sure.
AG: I don’t jump around.
RD: [Laughs] So, I guess, how’d you get involved in IGRA? That's, like, the big question.
AG: [Laughs] Yes, of course. Well, I mean, I grew up in the city. So, rodeo was not something that was on my radar. And I had a couple of friends in Los Angeles who did camp events: wild drag, steer decorating, goat dressing. And they had been trying to talk me into becoming their wild drag partner for about two years. And I thought, you know, “You guys are just crazy.” And they acquired a Golden State Gay Rodeo Association—that's the California Association—membership for me, forged my name, paid my dues, and signed me up as their partner for the L.A. rodeo in 1993. I found out about it about 24 hours before the rodeo. I was absolutely terrified. I'd never even seen it before. I mean, I'd been to a couple of rodeos, but I was really young, six, seven years old. But this was, you know, I mean, completely sight unseen. And one of the guys got hurt on Saturday in steer deco and ended up being out for the season.
AG: So, all of a sudden, the other guy, Mark, said, “Hey, great. Now you can be my partner in all three of these events!” [Laughs] I'm thinking, “OK, you want me to partner you in an event where our friend just got hurt?” He's like, “Oh, yeah, it's fine. We'll be fine.” And that was the start of it. I mean, we just had so much fun and I…I wanted to…I wanted to participate, and I wanted to learn about different areas that I could be involved in. You know, in terms of the larger picture. Because it occurred to me pretty early on that being an all volunteer organization, people are always very happy to show up for the party, but getting people to do the work is a little more challenging. And I thought, “OK, you know, how can I gain knowledge in a bunch of different areas and make myself more useful?” So that's what I did.
AG: I was a contestant. I served on the board of both (at the time we had two) L.A. chapters. Different positions on both of those boards. Got the royalty program. Did a couple terms as state vice-president. I was on a royalty team for IGRA. Served a couple terms as IGRA vice-president. And I chaired a number of committees over the years, chaired judges, co-chaired judges. Rodeo growth and planning. Health and safety. Hall of Fame. I think that's it. I don't know. I would have to, like, really think about it, you know? I was a scorekeeper for five years, and at the time we had two auditors. And that’s…we have scorekeepers who report to secretaries who report to the auditors, and at each level somebody’s checking your work. And the auditor is where the buck stops. And it's a very critical position.
AG: Well, we only had two. And at the time, we had a lot of rodeos. I mean, we had, I don't know, 20, 22 rodeos a year? We were much bigger. You know, we had a lot more members. We were much younger. I mean, not just the organization, but, like…as individuals, we were much younger as well. And one of the auditors got very, very sick. This was 1996. And I thought, “Oh, shit.” If we lose him…we…I'd better learn how to be a secretary so I can learn how to be an auditor so that, you know, if we lose him, then we have two auditors, but hopefully he gets better, but then we might have a backup. And so, I went through the secretarial program—hated it. And I think I was one rodeo away from being certified, and this gentleman—thank goodness—got better. And he's still here.
AG: And, I thought, “OK, well, then, I'll just go back to being a scorekeeper and a contestant. Great! Everything's good.” And I went through the judges program a couple of times in the mid 90s, but I wasn't really ready to…commit to it pretty much full time as opposed to… You know, I'd been a contestant, I liked being a contestant, and when I was approaching 40 and hadn't been hospitalized for any rodeo injuries, I thought, “Okay, maybe this is a good time.” And I got certified as a judge when I was…right before I turned 39, and I've just completed my 20th year of judging. The first few years that I was a judge I competed as a contestant sporadically, but was primarily judging. And now…I probably haven't competed in…at least 10 years. And here we are.
RD: What kind of stuff did you do when you competed?
AG: I started out with what was just supposed to be wild drag race. But, back then, we had divisions. We had geographical divisions, and the way to earn points for finals was to compete within your own division. This was actually a brilliant system because whether you had a small rodeo or a large rodeo, it didn't matter where in the country you were holding an event, you were guaranteed to have contestants, because they could only get points in their own region. So, at that point in time, the Division 1, which was the Pacific Coast and Nevada, the first rodeo wasn't until April. So, what was supposed to be one event turned into three events on the very first weekend.
AG: So, it was wild drag, steer deco, goats. And not long after that, I added calf roping on foot. Because, back then, everyone, 100 percent of the contestants had to be present on Saturday morning for a mandatory contestant meeting. Calf-roping on foot was usually held immediately thereafter. And I thought, well, if I'm going to be here…you know. And I think it was the next year that I was trying to decide between steer riding and chute dogging, and I ended up going with chute dogging, because I figured, if I think I'm going to get hurt, maybe if I let go, the steer would go away and not try and kill me. And yeah, that was it. That was enough. Five events.
RD: So, how do you identify in terms of, like, gender and sexuality?
AG: I’m sorry, what?
RD: Oh, I said…[Repeats question.]
AG: Female, gay. [Pause]
RD: Sounds good, yeah.
AG: Whatever. She/Her/Hers.
RD: Oh, yeah. So, I guess, what was it like for you coming out?
AG: You know, I never really came out.
RD: Oh, OK.
AG: I never…I was never really in. I grew up in San Francisco, which…it's very different now, but in the 60s and early 70s, it was an absolutely magical place to grow up. Very diverse culturally, very diverse ethnically, sociologically… There was everything there and…I wouldn't say—I mean, my father was very strict. He was former military, not the least bit progressive. But, I was in a very progressive, highly academic school, and…it was just no big deal. I mean, just, you know—you'd see gay people, and it was like no big deal. And, you know, it was until…I guess a couple years after college that I sort of…I don’t even know how to put it. I mean, I dated men for quite a while. And…you know, I had a long-term relationship when I lived in Scotland, and when I moved back to the States, I only dated women. Who knows now? I don't know. I'm a widow, so anything could happen.
RD: Did you ever face any discrimination for that?
AG: Yes, and…yes. There was political discrimination at my graduate school, and it was not pretty, but I'm not one to back down, and…things could have gone better. But I'm glad I made the choices that I did. And, you know, I’m fortunate. Aside from the times that I lived in Scotland, I've always lived in a very cosmopolitan area. I mean, you know, San Francisco—nobody gives a shit. It’s like, as long as you don't frighten the kids or hurt the animals, you're okay. Los Angeles, you know, when I moved there, there were a lot more gay bars than there are now. And, you know, it was different for people of my generation back then. To some extent it was a safety issue to be segregated, as it were.
AG: But it's just different now. It's totally different now. We…I mean, I think the last time I intentionally went to a gay bar in Los Angeles, I had friends that were visiting from Australia, and they were staying in West Hollywood, and they wanted to go to gay bars. And I'm like, “I don't even know what to tell ya.” And they found a place they wanted to go, and I'm like, “OK, I'll meet you there.” This was probably seven or eight years ago. You know, occasionally when I'm at a rodeo, maybe I'll go to the bar with some friends. But generally, at this stage in my life, I’d rather just get something nice to eat for dinner and go back to the room and relax rather than go out partying, you know?
RD: That makes a lot of sense, yeah.
AG: We used to be able to do this, y’know? I mean, when I was in my early thirties, we would start at the big rodeos at 7:00 in the morning and we'd finish, like, 11:30 at night. It was insane. And then we would go directly to the nearest gay bar, close it down, go back to the hotel, crash for a couple of hours, and get up at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning and do it all over again.
RD: It's impressive.
AG: There aren’t many of us that have the stamina to do that anymore—or the inclination.
RD: Yeah.You think the larger LGBT community supports the rodeo at all?
AG: That's a tough one…I think less so than it used to. You know, it's a very expensive sport and…we need younger people. Honestly, if we change the ‘G’ in ‘IGRA’ from gay to geriatric, it would be fairly accurate. But it's difficult for us to recruit younger people, partly because a lot of them don't hang out in bars and have grown up not having to feel threatened the same way that we did. And, just, not thinking it's a big deal to be gay, and who cares what other people think? And, you know, it's…how do we reach those people? Also, younger people are…it seems like it's taking longer for them to become financially independent adults.
AG: So, there's the issue of the…increasing cost of living. And do they have the seniority in their jobs to be able to take Fridays and Mondays off several times a year? And do they have the cash or the available credit to do it? And it's, you know…even for we old people it's not easy. I don't know. I've been saying for years and I think we should approach the extreme sports people, because we already know that they're adrenaline junkies. You know, these, like, motocross guys and gals, and the base jumpers, these sports that are adrenaline fueled. But, you know, I feel like the people in their 20s and 30s these days, by and large, just don't see any reason to be segregated. So, we have—it's the greying of IGRA, y’know?
RD: That makes sense.
AG: Yeah.
RD: [Long pause] Do you see IGRA eventually just morphing into normal rodeo?
AG: You know…we have an increasing number of…I don't know the right language, I don’t want to sound politically incorrect… Non-gay contestants. For example, here, there's a couple who—I won’t mention their names, because I don’t know if they’d want to be mentioned—but it's a heterosexual couple who happened to move in next door to two of our oldest members—longest time members—and said, “Wow, that would be fun.” And they started coming to our rodeos as contestants, and they're just part of our family, y’know? They have a little boy who is…I think he just turned six in September, I want to say (no, he can't be 7 yet. He must be six.) And [coughs] it's like, they bring him…when we come to Denver in the summer, we do a junior rodeo on Friday night.
AG: He competes in that. He knows everybody. He loves everybody. His parents know that if they're both competing at the same time, that this little boy is going to be well looked after, you know? That there's no danger whatsoever and he's got a couple hundred uncles and aunts that'll keep a close eye on him. We've got a bunch of speed event—horse speed event—women, here, in New Mexico, and Texas, particularly.
AG: You know, straight girls that are local girls that like to do barrel racing, and they come down. We have some rough-stock men that are straight. And [clears throat]…I think some of them…are a little resistant to telling their friends what kind of rodeo it is that they're going to…But the ones that are particularly secure with their masculinity or whatever don't seem to have a problem. And some live in places that are, you know, smaller places in Wyoming, in Oklahoma, here in Colorado. But they're…they keep coming back. And our people—we don't give a shit, you know? We don't care if you're gay or straight or transgender or whatever, but it's…if you want to come and have fun, please come and join us. We’re open. We're open to everybody.
RD: It sounds like it's a really supportive community overall.
AG: It is. And, you know, years ago it was very rare that we would have a contestant come along who was straight, or was transgender. And…it's just different now. It's like…it's just…you want to come and have fun and play with us? Come on down. We welcome you. [Pause] I don't even know if I answered the question.
RD: No, no, you absolutely did. I think I made a statement.
AG: It’s morphing.
RD: So, have you experienced any protests, or any kind of homophobia at the rodeos?
AG: [Laughs] You know, not for quite some time. It was very, very common in the 90s. You know, the PETA protesters, and the religious people with their big signs—and more often than not they had small children with them, with big signs that say GOD HATES FAGS. We had…three rodeos in Washington state in…I want to say ‘93, ‘94, and ‘95. I believe it was. And the rodeo was in this little town called Enumclaw. And it's really a little town [laughs]. And, I don't know, it was probably…it seemed really far away from Seattle. It was probably 45 minutes outside of town. And…we did our registration and stuff on Friday in Seattle, and then we drove out to this place for Saturday and Sunday.
AG: And on Saturday…one of mornings, I think it was Saturday morning, there were all these ten penny nails in the parking lot. And some extremists had targeted the parking lot because, you know, the fags are coming. But I think there’d been some sort of straight event there the night before, and they’d put the nails in at the wrong time. And…that was a little threatening. It was a beautiful arena, and it was just surrounded by, you know, Washington State. It was just surrounded by all these massive big green trees. And what we didn't know at the time was that there were police sharpshooters in the trees keeping an eye on us. Which was pretty radical for 1993, in a little town, in Washington state. We haven't…it's been quite a while since we've seen a lot of more PETA protesters. .
AG: We went to Florida for four years, I think it was, four or five years, starting in…maybe 2008-ish… 2007 or 2008…and there were a lot of protesters outside the gate, but we also had, like, 5000 spectators over the course of the weekend. So, the protesters did really get very far. You know, we have a PR spokesperson, and we have very, very rigid rules dedicated to the welfare of the animals. You know, the stocks that we effectively rent for the weekend for our contestants’ own animals. We are very, very big on animal welfare. And in the past, when we've tried to explain this to those people, they don't want to hear it, because… it's just not what they want to hear. It's been…yeah, it's probably been 10 years since I've seen protesters. So that's good
RD: Yeah, that’s great.
AG: Yeah.
RD: So, when you were doing stuff in the rodeo, did you ever get injured?
AG: Not horribly.
RD: Okay, that’s good.
AG: You know, I got a lot of bumps and bruises, but I never had to go to the hospital.
RD: That’s good.
AG: That's definitely, definitely positive.
RD: Do you feel comfortable talking about the racial diversity of the rodeos?
AG: Sure.
RD: Have you been to any that were, I guess, exceptionally racially diverse?
AG: I have not. There's…I don't even know if it's still there…there used to be a black rodeo not too far from where I live. And…I refer to it as black rodeo because that's what it's called. It's called the black rodeo, it's not called the African American rodeo. And it's held in a facility where we have held a number of Los Angeles rodeos back in the in the old days. And, you know, every time I drive past that place—which isn't very often—I think, “You know, I really should find out when that rodeo is, because I’ll bet it would be really fun to go.” I have seen some Mexican rodeos in Mexico, but just at a distance, not as a paid spectator. But, you know, that's it.
RD: OK. [Pause] So, when you’re at the rodeo, do you, like, have Western wear? Or is it, like, 100 percent of the time kind of deal?
AG: Do I wear Western wear a hundred percent of the time?
RD: Yeah. Or, at the rodeo.
AG: No. I…I'm a California girl. This is me. And if I wasn't in Denver, I'd have on shorts and sandals. You know, as a judge, we have uniform requirements, and it's basically the same uniform requirements that the contestants have. I used to have lots of boots and lots of fancy clothes. And travel has just become so…it used to be fun, and it used to be easy. And since 9/11 it is neither one of those things. I mean, for example, I used to dress up for Sunday night awards. Every rodeo. And I did it for 10, 15 years. And I had this really amazing, brand new sequined dress. And we were in San Francisco. It was the first time I'd worn it, and the drag queens are just like drooling at my dress. And I got home from…we did awards, we went to this bar, you know, kind of as an en masse, right? Because they were a sponsor.
AG: And I got back to the hotel—I only had this dress on for, like, three hours—I got back to the hotel, and there was a huge burn hole in the back of the dress. I'm like, “Oh, shit, my dress is burned. And I thought, You know, [squeak] do I really need to keep carrying stuff like this just to wear for a couple hours on Sunday night? And my answer was, No. [Laughs] No, I don't.” So, yeah, no. I'm…you know, I have lots of buckles, but I don't wear them at home. I mean, I'm very fortunate that I don't have to dress up for work—I mean, I can't wear shorts. But I mean, you know, if I wanted to wear jeans and a Western buckle, I totally could. I'm just too lazy, basically.
RD: Do your coworkers know about the—?
AG: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Years ago, they’d be like, “You’re going on vacation again?” And I was like, “No. I'm traveling Friday, I've got meetings Friday, I'm working Saturday, working Sunday, and traveling on Monday. No, I'm not going on vacation.” And now they know better. They're just like, Oh, yeah, she’s….yeah. [Pause] They think it's weird.
RD: Oh…yeah. Coworkers. So, what's it mean to be a cowboy or a cowgirl for you? And I guess, would you consider yourself one as well?
AG: Well. Wow. That's actually a really tough question. For me, it's really more of a philosophical thing. You know, just. What do we value? I mean, we value honesty and we value integrity and…camaraderie and…being respectful and supportive of each other. Helping out, you know, when people need help. Whatever. You know, if the arena crew’s shorthanded and they need help drawing a line well, yeah, if they want us to help, we're gonna jump in and help them. I think…I don't know. This is a really extraordinary group. Over the years, I've participated in a lot of different sports and…this is—I mean, I've done racket sports, and I skiid, I rode—not here cause that's for rich people—and this is the only sport I've ever been involved with where more often than not, your biggest supporter is gonna be your direct competition.
AG: And that's just…that's how we roll, y’know? And I mean, I remember…I think it was in San Diego, sometime in the mid 90s, and it was chute dogging. And I could’ve won the buckle. And it was down to one gal who could beat me, and I did my run and it wasn't very good. And then I jumped up on the back of the chutes, and I was cheering for her. And some of the other people back there were like, “Why are you cheering for her?” You know, and I'm like, “Well, because she's my friend,” y’know? And she won. Which was cool. I wasn’t, you know—didn't make me unhappy or anything. But…not everybody is the same, they're going to be exceptions, you know, ‘cause there's assholes everywhere.
AG: But this is a really supportive group. And the contestants, but not just the contestants. I mean, the judging team I see at pretty much every rodeo, we will talk to people and say, “Hey, you know, if you try this, it might work better,” or, “Here's what went wrong,” or, you know, “Maybe if you look at it from this angle” or, whatever, or, you know, “Hey, if you do this, you’re costing yourself time.” And we want people to succeed, and we want them to be happy, and it's just…the level of support kind of across the board is…I haven't experienced it in any other sport. Ever. Y’know? And I'm 59, so…it's been a while [laughs].
RD: Where do you think that comes from?
AG: I don't know. I mean, you know, in the beginning…we—the Big We, IGRA- we—got together to be able to do what we love in a safe environment. And I don't mean like safe from injury. I mean safe from people that…might threaten our welfare and…we—It's like a big family, y’know? And we look out for each other, we stand up for each other, and…it's very different than it was in…I mean, I don't know what it was like in the late 80s. I didn't live here. I didn't get involved ‘til 1993. But in the bigger picture of IGRA that's still, you know—I mean, that was 27 years ago. That's still relatively early days. I think there's a…I don’t know, what is it, like, strength in numbers or something? There's a sense of security that is inherent when you're with a group where you know you're safe. And I don't think it's, like, a conscious thing. I think it's like more like a feeling, y’know?
RD: That makes sense.
AG: I don't know if I even can articulate it.
RD: I thought you did really well.
AG: I've been talking all day, so…[Laughs]
RD: It’s okay. [Long pause while interviewer formulates next question.] So, what are your thoughts on IGRA and trying to get more people involved?
AG: I would love to see more people involved. We have been in a period of declining numbers: declining numbers of rodeos, declining numbers of members. Part of it is that people are aging out. People are dying. Some people have just said, “You know, if I didn't do this, I could have a really, really great vacation.” Sometimes, you know, people's interests change. It's tough because such a high percentage of our core membership are people in their 50s and 60s. And, I think it's a tough sell to be attractive to people in their 20s and 30s when they see all these old people. I don't know what the answer is. I think that as far as the number of rodeos go, that we're better off having a smaller number of rodeos that are successful than a larger number of rodeos that maybe aren't all successful.
AG: So, what works in Little Rock might not work in Denver, and what works in Minneapolis/St. Paul might not work in Dallas. And I think, you know, we have to continue to encourage our hosting associations to…structure their events in ways that work for them in their market. And, you know, it's not often we get new associations anymore. In fact, we've been losing them. But when we were going through a massive growth spurt in the 90s, I think that new associations felt—I don't think IGRA put the pressure out—but I think that they felt some sort of internal pressure to host a rodeo or host a convention, because, well, “We can't be in the club unless we do this.” But that's not true. And it's like—no, you can totally be in the club. You don't have to do this. And please don't try and run before you can walk, because maybe you're setting yourself up for failure.
RD: Yeah
AG: And we had a…there was a suggestion from an external sponsor type person, years ago, that thought we should do away with small rodeos. Because they didn't—presumably—sell enough of his product. And there was one particular rodeo that was targeted and, you know, people like stood up and yelled and screamed and stamped their feet and said, “Look it, if you're in Peoria, Illinois, you're not going to have the population to draw from that you're gonna have in Phoenix or Dallas or Denver or Los Angeles.”
AG: So, if Peoria can get 400 people over the course of a weekend and they're holding an event—a gay event in a place where they've got lots of military bases—that's successful for them. You can't hold every place to the same standards because they're not dealing…it's not apples to apples, you know? And in fact, this particular organization—which is not Peoria—had a…I can’t call it what it’s real name was…they had facility. They had a facility that belonged to them 365 days a year. And they would hold events there and they would rent it out to other community groups. And they sold a lot of beer in their facility.
AG: And they made a lot of money in their facility, and it enabled them to have an event in a place with a low population, and not a huge number of attendees, and still be able to pay for it. So, you know, we've had…California used to have rodeos in Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Bay Area. Well, also Sacramento. Now we have rodeos in Bay Area and Palm Springs. So, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento just closed this year. Los Angeles and San Diego, just, kind of…people weren’t interested anymore. Nobody wanted to do the work. Nobody wanted to be a board member. They've been closed for quite a while. And…that's fine. We have…I think we have 9 or 10 rodeos on the list next year—which for us is small. But it's sustainable.
RD: Yeah.
AG: OK? They can get the contestants. Minnesota and Arkansas now take turns. So, in the even years it's Minnesota, and in the odd years it's Arkansas. Because they know their market, and they know what they need financially to not dig themselves into a big hole. So, they've made they've made the decision to just take turns and do a rodeo every other year, and that has worked very well for them. Had they continued to try and hold rodeos every single year, you know, would they still be with us? I don't know. That's a big question. I think IGRA could do more to support the local associations. I don't know how we increase the membership. I just don't. I hope that we still exist five years from now. It has been an amazing experience for me. And, you know, back to when I started and wanted to learn different aspects of how things worked, trying to be useful, I still want new people coming in to be able to have similar experiences and be excited about this and want to come back and want to see it continue. It remains to be seen, right?
RD: Yeah
AG: Yeah.
RD: So, how has gender inclusivity been during your time?
AG: Well, you know, we've always…I don't know what the percentages are. I would guess, I don't know, 70/30, 75/25. I'm not the person answer that question. It's always been at least two thirds men. Easily. It's at least two thirds men. But as a woman, I've never felt unwelcome because I was a woman. I mean, there are always fewer women than men that are competing. But, you know, a lot of things changed. A lot of things changed in in the 90s. [Pause] Before the AIDS crisis really came, like, slamming into us.
AG: I think that the genders were much more segregated. And I know an awful lot of women who were the first ones to step up and take care of our brothers when they got sick. And I think that the community’s learning to accept the help maybe went some way to break down some of those barriers. Maybe. I mean…just…things are very different now. You know, I don't even know how to articulate it. But I do think that, where there used to be, you know—I have never had a problem going into a gay men's bar—I grew up in San Francisco.
AG: So, my first bars were gay men’s bars. [Laughs] Y’know? And, you know, it was just sort of…I didn't really have to think about it. I just thought, “Well, I'm going to be friendly and pleasant and tip well.” And I've never, ever had a problem. But…a lot of people have. And…I think things are…there are still gonna be places that are very, sort of, I don’t know, exclusive or…unwelcoming, I suppose. But I think that the 90s made both the men and the women in the community break down some barriers. You know, for the better.
RD: Yeah.
AG: Yeah.
RD: OK. Did you have anything else that you wanted to…?
AG: No, I don't think so—I mean, this is a great project. I wish that there were fun things like this to do when I was in grad school.
AG: Yeah, this is…it’s…I didn’t know a whole lot about it when I started, and just the more I’ve been in it the more I'm like, this is really great…I think we went through most of these…I don't want to be like…going by a script, you know?
AG: No, it’s OK. Whatever you need to do.
RD: OK. [Long pause]
AG: I mean, if I could do anything differently, it would probably be to have not spent two years arguing with my friends Mark and Bill about coming out and playing in the dirt with them. Because I would've been involved two years sooner. And I mean, I've been very fortunate that, well, that I've been able to be involved for so long. And that my work situation is such that, you know, I can take a lot of long weekends—I mean, I'm always on. I always bring my laptop! I’ve got work to do. But I've only ever had to cancel one rodeo because of work. And I'm in the neighborhood of about 250 now. I feel very privileged that I’ve—first that I'm still here—but that I've been able to participate in so many different aspects of our organization.
RD: Yeah.
AG: And, you know, while we really want more younger people, I think it's important…I'm glad that that all of we old people haven't left. Because continuity is important, and a sense of our organizational history is important. And, you know, if you can get some voices of reason in the same room, you can do great things. Yeah.
RD: Well, great.
AG: You’re gonna be… Tomorrow's either gonna be very, very boring for you, or you’re just gonna laugh your asses off. Maybe both.
RD: I think we'll have fun. We were in a couple of the meetings, and it is pretty great. So, yeah, unless you’ve got anything else.
AG: No, I’m good. You good?