Partnering with the International Gay Rodeo Association to collect and preserve people’s experiences as LGBTQ+ westerners, this project seeks to protect endangered histories and relocate LGBTQ+ people back into the American West as people continue to build resilient communities.
The Gay Rodeo Oral History Project was created in 2016 with the aid of a University of Idaho Seed Grant which purchased basic equipment and funded travel to several rodeos over the course of a year. Having conducted archival research on the International Gay Rodeo Association at the Autry Museum of the American West, I was struck by the precarious future of the association, the deep commitment of its members, and the rarity of public-facing projects engaged with rural LGBTQ+ communities. I quickly discovered that interviewing at a rodeo presents its own special challenges. Rodeoers often have only 20 minutes to spare between bronc-riding and barrel-racing and rarely is there a place that provides optimal recording conditions. Wanting to capture people’s everyday experiences, I sought a wide cross-section of members: old-timers and newcomers; members of all sexual and gender identities; and competitors and organizers.
With the aid of University of Idaho’s Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning, we have curated many of these interviews in order to highlight the points of convergence and departure that gay rodeoers experience.
Currently funded by the Whiting Foundation, student collaborators will be traveling to rodeos during the spring of 2020 to expand our oral history collection and, in turn, the stories available in this exhibit.
This project would not be possible without the tireless historical and organizational work conducted by IGRA’s leadership and royalty teams, and individuals like Frank Harrell, Roger Bergmann, Patrick Terry, and so many more.
Assistant Professor of History
University of Idaho
Rebecca Scofield is the principle investigator for the Gay Rodeo Oral History Project, co-creator of the Voices of Gay Rodeo, and the author of Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the American West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019). Born and raised in Emmett, Idaho, she holds an MA in Regional Studies: East Asia and a PhD in American Studies from Harvard University. She has received fellowships from the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, the Charles Warren Center for the Study of American History, Harvard University's Graduate School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and the University of Idaho's Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning. She is a 2019 Whiting Public Engagement Fellow.
Patrick Terry is a 30 year member of IGRA and our community collaborator on this project. Patrick has been involved with IGRA since 1989, serving as the association’s Administrative Assistant, a certified scorekeeper, a barn manager, committee chairs, and a competitor in all categories of rodeo events. Patrick saved, organized, and delivered much of the archival material now held at the Autry Museum of the American West and the ONE Archive.
Devin Becker is co-creator and designer of the Voices of Gay Rodeo web project. Devin is the Head of the Data and Digital Services department at the University of Idaho Library and director of the Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning (CD?L). Some of the features of this site developed out of his most recent digital humanities project, CTRL+Shift, which explores the ways poets' writing practices changed with the advent of the personal computer and digital age.
Renae Campbell is a historical archaeology PhD student in the departments of History and Anthropology at the University of Idaho, who specializes in Asian American history and the American West. Renae’s dissertation research focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese mining sites in Southern Idaho’s Boise Basin. She is also a Research Assistant at the Asian American Comparative Collection at the University of Idaho (https://webpages.uidaho.edu/aacc/) and co-creator of the Historical Japanese Ceramic Comparative Collection (https://www.lib.uidaho.edu/digital/hjccc/), one of the first online resources for identifying and describing Japanese ceramics found on North American archaeological sites.
Revulai Detiv is a Senior student at University of Idaho completing a bachelors degree in Philosophy with a minor in History. Her interests are in political theory, 20th century history, and economics.
Saraya Flaig is a Senior at the University of Idaho studying History with minors in Political Science and Spanish. She enjoys learning about American history, especially histories of marginalized populations. She is also passionate about advocating for social justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Dustin Fleener is a cultural anthropologist and ACA-FAN from northern Idaho. His research focuses on fandom and participatory popular culture. He is currently a PhD student in History at the University of Idaho.
Courtney N. Fund is a first-year MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Idaho. She is the Marketing Editor and Images&Etc Editor for the Fugue Literary Journal. Courtney’s poetry is interested in queering rural lexicons and is invested in the body, the ecstatic, and disrupting language.
Kenwyn Richards is working towards a master's degree in history in her spare time. After spending over 25 years working in the accounting industry, whether with a private company or public accounting, Kenwyn is now honored to be a part of the university research administration community. She specializes in grant financial compliance as well as core facility financial management. During her endeavors, she discovered her love of history.