For Robin Cagle, serving on the IGRA royalty team is a personal mission
Most folks in the gay community are familiar with pageant titles like Miss Gay America (drag) or Mr. Dallas Eagle (leathermen). But what about “MsTer?” It’s a title Robin Cagle didn’t even understand a few years ago.
Now, Cagle can’t help but understand: She is the current MsTer IGRA 2012 First Runner-Up and just last weekend was crowned MsTer TGRA 2012.
“It’s the opposite of a man who dresses in female attire — it’s more of a female into dressing butch,” she explains.
Of course, when you’re a rodeo champ like Cagle — she will be competing in four events in this weekend’s World Gay Rodeo Finals in Fort Worth, the capper of the International Gay Rodeo Association’s season — dressing in butch attire is kinda par for the course: Jeans, starched shirts, Stetsons and Tony Lamas are practically uniforms.
But for Cagle, serving on the IGRA’s royalty team is less about accumulating sashes than it is accumulating converts to the rodeo. (And money, but we’ll get to that.)
Cagle grew up in rural Louisiana and from early childhood was reared around livestock; she routinely competed in rodeos well before graduating from high school.
Then she moved to North Texas, and owning and stabling a horse wasn’t as easy (or affordable) as when she was younger. It took her 11 years to acquire the resources to get back in the saddle. And rodeos weren’t far behind.
“I met some friends in Corsicana [and they convinced me] to compete in the Austin rodeo in 2003,” she says. “That was the first gay rodeo I attended; I did barrels, poles and flags as a kid so I knew the events. I’ve been really involved with those speed events ever since.”
She admits she was slow getting into the gay rodeo scene until about 2008. Then Cagle was asked if she and her partner would be interested in running for IGRA royalty.
“I had no idea what it was — it was new to me,” she now admits. When she realized exactly what the position entailed, she became quickly hooked.
“There are two main duties of royalty: Being out on the rodeo circuit representing IGRA and the royalty program, and raising money — not just for IGRA but for the charities we have chosen. It’s pretty amazing once you see the money you are raising go to the charities in need. And doing the onstage questions even helps me build myself professionally.”
While HIV charities have been frequent beneficiaries in the past, Cagle says the IGRA has expanded its reach. This year’s royalty team continued the previous class’ choice of the It Gets Better Foundation, but also added the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. It’s a charity close to Cagle’s heart.
“My own partner is battling ovarian cancer,” she says. “This is a way of giving back.” (Her partner’s prognosis is good, she says.)
That’s a lot on Cagle’s plate: During the finals this weekend, Cagle will not only compete for four titles (in addition to the speed events, she also qualified for calf-roping on foot, a popular sport with the “Six Old Heifers,” a pet name for the friends — including Cagle — who enjoy the event), Cagle also has duties as a member of the “royal” family.
“I’m in the arena competing, but between events I’ll be in the stands talking to folks. From a royalty perspective, [a lot of what we do] is getting people involved is going to different communities — the bears, the leathermen, Tarrant County Pride [where she’s from] and building bridges” … as well as awareness that the rodeo is open to everyone.
“I guess you could say women are a little bit of a minority — or you’d think it,” she says. “But when I picture the Kansas City Rodeo over Labor Day weekend, there were 20 male barrel racers but still 13 or 14 women. It’s a very welcoming community. We call it our rodeo family.”
Cagle’s title of MsTer IGRA First Runner-up ends this weekend, but don’t expect to see her on the podium when the 2013 team is announced. She’s sitting this year out. But she’ll be back next year.
“I will be running for MsTer IGRA 2014,” she says. “I will be going for a red sash — black’s not good enough.”
Sounds like someone with a competitive spirit. And the rodeo loves a competitor.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 19, 2012.
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