Balls & bulls

2 gay sports groups have 2 big weekends planned — and you’re invited

Rodeo5

LEARN THE WAYS OF THE HORSE | This weekend kicks off the Oak lawn Tennis Association’s 33rd season, and next week the TGRA begins a new tradition: A rodeo school.

There will be no lack of action this weekend. No, this isn’t about a successful night of Grindr-ing. All the action will either go down on a court or off a horse. The Oak Lawn Tennis Association (OLTA) and the Texas Gay Rodeo Association (TGRA) kick off their respective seasons over the weekend — in big fashion.

OLTA invites the community to “Friends of Tennis,” which marks the beginning of the group’s 33rd season. Tennis enthusiasts of all levels are encouraged to come out for the three days of mingling and playing and introduction to OLTA.

A mixer at Woody’s on Saturday at 7 p.m. starts everything off, with opportunities to learn more about the association. For those itching at the bit to get on the court, play begins Sunday morning at the L.B Houston Tennis Center with the annual Promiscuous Doubles play at 9 a.m. The open court allows for all players to mix it up between various levels of experience.  Lunch will be served after court time winds down.

L.B. Houston is located at 11225 Luna Road.

For more information, visit OLTADallas.org.

The TGRA’s big weekend isn’t until March 2–4, with its annual Texas Tradition Rodeo in Fort Worth, but the cowboys are busy this weekend when the Rodeo Roundup hits the Hidden Door on Feb. 25, starting at 2 p.m. But it’s the following Friday when things heat up.

This is the first year the association will hold a rodeo school for competitors wanting a refresher and for anybody else interested in rodeo events. Yes, anybody.

“Competitors can work with instructors on techniques as a sort of refresher course,” rodeo director Dan Nagel says. “But if someone’s never competed and always wanted to, they can come on in too and work with a champion.”

People can take courses on junior bull riding, chute dogging, calf roping on foot and steer decorating. And they’ll be in good hands. Every instructor is an experienced rodeo athlete and likely has a few awards to his or her name. Once a class is completed, students can sign up to enter the competition.

Like any class, there are some prerequisites. For newbies wanting their inaugural ride. they must first register with the appropriate rodeo association. Locals can sign up with TGRA while out-of-towners need to apply with their area organization (most chapters are expected to be at the rodeo). A mandatory safety class is offered, too. Classes are $15 each or $50 the whole she-bang. Other than that, Nagel says the only advice is to dress accordingly.

“Wear cowboy boots, jeans and a long-sleeve shirt,” he advises. “A hat is OK to wear at school but certain events require long sleeves and a hat. If they come in without it, they’re disqualified.”

After classes are over, the events and performances begin March 3 at 9 a.m. at the Will Rogers Arena in Fort Worth. The Chris Brade

Band, the Austin Babtist Women and the Free Ho Lay Sisters provide entertainment throughout the weekend. As a nonprofit, TGRA donates proceeds from the rodeo to various charities and has donated more than $2 million to Texas agencies.
For more information, visit TGRA.org.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: LGBT community gets into the holiday spirit

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

TGRA Dallas’ Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction

Dan-and-Mark

Mark Gurrola, left, and Dan Nagel

While some local charities have experienced major declines in fundraising due to the bad economy, the Dallas chapter of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association has actually seen an increase, according to President Dan Nagel.

“When I was first elected to the board as the chapter’s state rep four years back, my partner Mark Gurrola and I knew there were opportunities for improvement in our organization that were greatly needed,” Nagel said. “With the condition of our economy, change had to occur. Our first goal was to partner with other organizations and businesses in the Dallas GLBT community. There really was no relationship at that time.

“Secondly, our events needed to be produced and promoted better than in the past. Third, the membership had shrunk and needed to grow,” Nagel said. “We have successfully done all three.”

The new and improved TGRA Dallas will again be on display Dec. 10, when the organization hosts its 25th annual Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction. This year, TGRA Dallas will again team with the United Court of the Lone Star Empire for Hard Candy Christmas.

Nagel said Hard Candy Christmas was started by TGRA Dallas members Tom Davis and Michael Lee, who produced the first show in 1987. That night, a drag queen named “Boo-tee-La-Tits” took the stage and sang “Hardy Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton, Nagel said.

This year, hosts and emcees will be Miss International Gay Rodeo Victoria Weston, Miss TGRA Trisha Davis and Empress XXIII Miss Donna Dumae.

“It’s very Christmas themed,” Nagel said. “Most of the entertainers will do Christmas numbers. There will be a lot of live singers. Not all of it is going to be live, but we try to fill this with 50 percent live vocal talents.”

In addition to 20-25 auction baskets, the event will feature a Christmas tree on which bulbs will be sold until it’s completely lit — and maybe even an elf or two, Nagel said.

“We produce this event basically cost-free,” he said. “Our members will, out of their own pockets, go out and buy stuff and put auction baskets
together, so there’s really no expense. I’d say about 99.9 percent of it will all go to charity. “

TGRA Dallas, part of the 29-year-old TGRA, hosts 10 fundraising events each year — or one every four to six weeks, Nagel said. Each year the chapter’s board votes on beneficiaries for the following year’s events.

For 2011, beneficiaries are Health Services of North Texas, Youth First Texas, Texas Legal Hospice, Legacy Counseling Center, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas, the Sharon St. Cyr Fund and AIDS Interfaith Network.

TGRA is a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the Western lifestyle, produce rodeos and raise money for charity. And when it comes to the latter, Nagel said the Dallas chapter does it best.

“We’re the only chapter out of TGRA that has these big annual events that have a lot of longevity to them,” Nagel said. “I think here in Dallas we’ve been fortunate, because I’ve seen the other chapters fundraising go down the last three or four years, where ours has gone up.”

TGRA Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire team up for the Hard Candy Christmas Show and Auction at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas