Jeffrey Payne announced as TGRA Grand Marshal for annual March rodeo

Former International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne can add another accomplishment to his resume. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association has announced Payne as its 2012 Grand Marshal for its annual March event, A Texas Tradition Rodeo. TGRA celebrates almost 30 years of gay rodeo and the 2012 event will be held March 2–4 in Fort Worth.

Read the official announcement after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Spirit of giving

2011 Toy Drive for children with cancer

Dr. Christine J. Coke of Allen is once again collecting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards from Toys R’ Us, Target or WalMart to donate to the Children’s Cancer Fund to benefit children undergoing treatment for cancer.

Donations can be dropped off at Dr. Coke’s office, 107 Suncreek Drive, Ste. 200 in Allen by Saturday, Dec. 17. You can also arrange to have donations picked up by calling Dr. Coke’s office at 214-383-1380, or by calling Linda Lucky any time at 214-632-9271.

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Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash

The Cocktails for a Cause Red Ribbon Bash, benefiting Resource Center Dallas, begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Central 214 at Hotel Palomar, 5300 E. Mockingbird. Admission is $25.

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Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction

Miss IGRA Victoria Weston, Trisha Davis and Donna Dumae host the 25th annual Hardy Candy Christmas benefit show and auction, presented by TGRA-Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire on Saturday, Dec. 10, starting at 8 p.m., at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave.

Proceeds benefit TGRA and UCLSE and the organizations they have chosen as beneficiaries.

Other events coming up at Dallas Eagle include the Stocking Stuffers Auction benefiting PPF on Dec. 16 and UCLE’s Jingle Ball Golden Rings 5 benefiting Youth First Texas on Dec. 17.

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Christmas Stocking Auction at The Round-Up

The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road, will hold its annual Christmas Stocking Auction on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m., and preview baskets will be on display in the bar on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Proceeds benefit Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage.

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Black Tie Dinner check distribution party

The Black Tie Dinner committee will distribute checks representing proceeds from its 30th annual dinner, held last month, to the Human Rights Campaign and the dinner’s 17 local beneficiaries on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Those attending will also have the chance to visit the exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, now on display at the museum.

Go online to BlackTie.org for information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

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

Cowboy up!

Full schedule of events planned around IGRA Finals Rodeo in Fort Worth this weekend

Cowboy-1

HANGING ON | One of the most popular events in the IGRA Finals Rodeo is bullriding. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The “best of the best” in the world of LGBT rodeo are coming to North Texas this weekend to dress goats, decorate steers, wrestle steers and ride wild horses and bulls, according to Randy Edlin, president of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association.

A total of 90 competitors will be competing in the 25th World Gay Rodeo Finals, being held Saturday and Sunday at the Watt Arena in the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. They will be representing the 27 local International Gay and Lesbian Rodeo Association affiliates around North America, including two from Texas — Texas Gay Rodeo Association, which has five chapters around the state, and Red River Rodeo Association, based in Aubrey, northeast of Denton.

Edlin said that participation in the IGRA Finals Rodeo is by invitation only. Contestants earn points through the year at regional rodeos, and the top 20 in each event are invited to the World Gay Rodeo Finals.

Edlin will compete in the chute-dogging event, sometimes known as steer wrestling, and in two camp events, the wild drag race and steer decorating.

Dan Nagel, president of the Dallas chapter of TGRA, said the camp events are one of the things that distinguish gay rodeo from traditional rodeo, adding to the entertainment and fun. But the inclusion of the camp events, he said, shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking gay rodeo contestants aren’t as tough as the mainstream rodeo cowboys and cowgirls.

In fact, Nagel said, the caliber of participants in IGRA’s 10 more traditional events are equal to those in any rodeo, and a number of members of TGRA also enter other rodeos.

Another difference between the gay rodeos and mainstream rodeos is that in gay rodeos, men and women may compete in all events.

In mainstream rodeos, you usually only see women competing in barrel racing. In gay rodeos, men race the barrels, too. Chute-dogging is usually a men’s event in the mainstream, but the women are out there wrestling steers, too, at the gay rodeos.

Nagel called those two events two of the most competitive on the circuit.

Gary Miller, owner of Dallas’ Round-Up Saloon who is also a former TGRA president, explained that while men and women compete together in chute-dogging, the top male competitor and the top female competitor both get first place trophy buckles.

Miller encouraged people who might be interested in participating in rodeo come to Fort Worth  to see the sport’s finest athletes and recommended the camp events for those just starting.

“Try goat decorating,” Miller said. “You won’t get hurt and you don’t have to have the skills of riding a horse or roping.”

Nagel agreed that some camp events are great for newcomers. But he called the wild drag race — in which teams of three, with one of the three in drag, work to get their member in drag on a steer and across the finish line in the fastest time — one of the most dangerous events on the circuit.

Miller and his partner, Alan Pierce, have been named honorary grand marshals of the rodeo. Miller joked that it was a role he was getting very used to filling. Two weeks ago, the pair were grand marshals of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

“It’s an honor for us since we’ve been involved since the 1980s,” Miller said.

Miller was among founding members of Texas Gay Rodeo Association in 1985 and served as its first president. Pierce helped form the Houston chapter while working at Bayou Landing, a country-western bar in that city.

The couple met through their work with the rodeo and became owners of the Round-Up in 1998. They celebrated their 26th anniversary this year.

Miller said the Round-Up Saloon sponsors five participants by paying their entry fees. He said rodeo can become an expensive sport, especially
for those traveling with their horses.

“It’s a big deal to trailer one in, especially from the coasts,” Miller said.

He said the trip takes several days because they have to stop every few hours to exercise the horses.

Events connected with the rodeo begin at the Crowne Plaza Fort Worth South, the host hotel, on Friday, Oct. 7. The honorary grand marshals will be presented at a dance at the hotel that evening.

The finals rodeo events begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, then again at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9.

“Peak spectator time is noon to 5 p.m.,” Nagel said. “They’ll run slack in the morning.”

“Running slack” means that rather than have all 20 competitors take part in one event twice in one day and declare winners, some of the entries from a variety of events will run in the morning. That way people attending during the peak afternoon hours will get to see the full variety of events.

Winners won’t be named until Sunday evening after each competitor in each event has been scored in that event twice.

In addition to the competitions taking place in the Watt Arena, a vendor area and an entertainment area will be set up in an adjoining building.

Edlin said each regional association has “royalty” — association members who have competed throughout the year and raised money for their associations to claim the Mr., Miss and Ms. Titles — and they will be entertaining throughout the day.

Nagel said that IGRA’s archives of the 35 years of gay rodeo and 25 years of international competition will be on display at the arena as well.

Dance has always been a big part of gay rodeo. Saturday night, a dance competition takes place at the host hotel.

Despite the fact that a Nevada sheriff shut down the finals in 1988 because area residents didn’t want “those type of people” in town, Edlin said the rodeo is a great place to bring kids.

“Gay rodeo is very family-oriented,” Edlin said. “It’s not cut-throat competition.”

Edlin has been involved since 1999.

“Friends took me to a gay rodeo in Calgary and I was hooked,” he said. “I’ve been involved ever since.”

Edlin said gay rodeo is so welcoming and family-oriented that a number of straight people participate in gay rodeo — including his straight son, a two-time Iraq War veteran who competes in chute-dogging and junior bull riding.

Nagel said TGRA has a number of straight members who enjoy the close friendships and fun.

“But the other side of all this is that we give money to the community,” he said.

Last year, the Dallas chapter of TGRA gave $30,000 to eight local groups including Resource Center Dallas and Youth First Texas. This year, he said, they’re already ahead in the amount they’ve collected. They’ll distribute  those funds in March.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

TGRA Underwear Auction tonight at the Eagle

Getcher undies here

TGRA’s  annual Underwear Auction returns with the easiest of draws. Cowboys and cowgirls in undies? Along with hunky bears and bartenders, leather dudes also modeling. Oh, yeah. Count us in. The event, hosted by Christopher Wilson and Heather Thomas, is also a fundraiser for the rodeo association and its charities.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 8 p.m. DallasEagle.com

—  Rich Lopez

Miss Firecracker pageant tonight at the Eagle

Camping out

The 23rd Annual Miss Firecracker pageant returns just in time for July 4. Heavy on the camp and actual singing, the contest is also a benefit for TGRA and its charities. The winner goes on to compete for Miss Charity America. The lovely Victoria Weston will serve as one of the hosts.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. DallasEagle.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 07.01.11

Friday 07.01

Do not mess with the lez rocker
Otep Shamaya is quite the unpredictable rock star. She’s dead serious about her place in heavy metal and her band OTEP. Last time we interviewed her, every joke we cracked went by without even so much as a chuckle. Or maybe we’re just not funny. She and her boys in the band are on the road supporting their new album Atavist.

DEETS: Trees, 2709 Elm St. Doors at 7 p.m. $15–$19. All ages. TreesDallas.com.

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Sunday 07.03

Camping out
The 23rd Annual Miss Firecracker pageant returns just in time for July 4. Heavy on the camp and actual singing, the contest is also a benefit for TGRA and its charities. The winner goes on to compete for Miss Charity America. The lovely Victoria Weston will serve as one of the hosts.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. DallasEagle.com.

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Thursday 07.07

‘Beat’ of a different drum
Chicano beat poet Christopher Carmona signs copies of his new book Beat. He’s a staunch LGBT ally challenging notions of gender roles in his poetry. Sounds like a cool guy to us.

DEETS: Cliff Notes, 1222 W. Davis St. 7 p.m. Free. Facebook.com/OakCliffNotes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FEEBACK: Thanks!

Thanks!

We want to extend a very special “thank you” to all the merchants who donated to the Round Up Saloon’s annual Easter Basket Auction this year. And thanks as well go to the generous buyers who showed up to bid on and purchase the baskets.

We especially thank our staff that worked so hard to get the baskets decorated, cataloged and presented for sale. Louis Ramos coordinated the entire event, and our auctioneer, R.D., has donated his time now for 15 years to doing our auctions.

And to all the Resource Center Dallas staff, TGRA members, The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, Michael Doughman and all our donors, buyers and entertainers: THANK YOU!

We are proud to announce that $14,400 was donated to The Nutrition Center and TGRA as a result of the Easter Basket Auction. The economy and the crowds are returning, and this charitable event is back on the way to recovery following a couple of pretty lean years.

Again, thank you to everyone.

Gary Miller,
Round-Up Saloon

—  John Wright

TGRA’s Texas Tradition Rodeo weekend

Grown up to be cowboys

The rodeo is back in town, or close by, at least. TGRA’s A Texas Tradition Rodeo fills the weekend up with barrel racing, bull riding and breakaway roping and a whole lot more action for the LGBT cowboys and cowgirls heading out to Alvarado to compete. James Allen and Weldon Henson provide the music along the way.

DEETS: Diamond W Arena, 8901 E. Highway 67, Alvarado. Through March 13. TGRA.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets • 03.11.11

Friday 03.11

Grown up to be cowboys
The rodeo is back in town, or close by, at least. TGRA’s A Texas Tradition Rodeo fills the weekend up with barrel racing, bull riding and breakaway roping and a whole lot more action for the LGBT cowboys and cowgirls heading out to Alvarado to compete. James Allen and Weldon Henson provide the music along the way.

DEETS: Diamond W Arena, 8901 E. Highway 67
Alvarado. Through March 13. TGRA.org.

Monday 03.14

Third time is a charm
Maybe it’s just us, but the buzz doesn’t seem as loud for this week’s return of Lady Gaga. And we’re certain the gays haven’t forgotgaga about it. She returns to Dallas after two sold-out shows last year, but this time she’s armed with a new number one hit ,“Born This Way,” and the Scissor Sisters as openers. OK, now we hear the buzz.

DEETS: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. 8 p.m. $52–$178. Ticketmaster.com.

Thursday 03.17

Mother always knows best
In this Outtakes Dallas screening of You Should Meet My Son, a mother discovers her son is gay and then decides he needs to have a hubby and her fabulous adventures begin. Way to go, Mom!

DEETS: Magnolia Theater, 3699 McKinney Ave. 7 p.m. $10. OuttakesDallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas