All our research is curated and peer-reviewed giving you access to an unmatched library of information all in one place.

Collecting Visual Voices: Understanding Identity, Community, and the Meaning of Participation Within Gay Rodeos

Rodeos have been an integral part of American cowboy culture since the 1800s, however, it wasn’t until the 1970s when gay rodeos began to form and challenge some of the assumptions about ‘cowboys,’ ‘sexuality,’ and ‘masculinity.’ The purpose of this ethnographic study was to utilize participant-driven photo-elicitation (PDPE) method to understand how individuals who participate in gay rodeos experience their identities and the meanings they attribute to their participation in this queer subculture. The diverse images shared by the participants illustrate their unique identities and the various meanings they attribute to their participation in gay rodeo. The findings from this study serve to highlight various aspects of the gay rodeo subculture and the role of gay rodeo as a site of support and solidarity for LGBTQ communities. In this study, gay rodeo emerges as a space of contestation, resistance and reification of gender norms and heterosexuality. The findings call into question tensions that exist when trying to dismantle sexual minority stereotypes while simultaneously perpetuating white hegemonic masculinity through the pervasive image of the gay cowboy. Interrogating the ways in which gay rodeo participants simultaneously reinforced and challenged hegemonic masculinity helps to understand how the idealized (hetero)sexual images of cowboys connected to symbolic power, strength and self-worth, position gay rodeo participants. This research study also reveals that participants of gay rodeo, who travel within and across the USA in order to participate in rodeo events, experiment with multiple non-heterosexual identities as they search for spaces and communities away from compulsory heterosexuality.