Interview with Greg Begay

Denver, Colorado on November 22, 2019 | Interviewer: Renae Campbell

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Renae Campbell: This is Renae Campbell and I am here with Greg Begay and we are at the Denver, Colorado, International Gay Rodeo Association Convention. It's November 22nd, 2019, and we're going to talk a little bit about your background first, if that’s okay. I'd like to start with asking where you were born.
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Greg Begay: I was born on the Navajo Reservation in Fort Defiance, Arizona.
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RC: Okay. And did you grow up there?
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GB: Yeah. Not specifically in Fort Defiance, but in a small local town called Klagetoh. There's probably less than a thousand people that live there.
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RC: So that would be—would you consider that a rural location, probably?
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GB: Well, it's so rural that to this day there's not really cell phone service there. And it's kind of primitive because you have to haul water for some houses—they still don't have running water or plumbing. And some houses don't even have electricity. I love it. It's kind of what I've grown up with, so starting a fire or doing anything manual is not very hard.
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RC: Do you live there still?
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GB: My parents do. My dad works for a company that supplies natural gas to, basically, the U.S. They have a house that runs with electricity and then they have a house that doesn't have electricity. So, you do get both sides of it. I love being back—even though my phone doesn't work.
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RC: So, did you go to school there?
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GB: I went to school there. And then in high school, we went out of town—out of our town—and we went to a private school, a Catholic school. Then ventured off to Tempe for college.
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RC: You said “we.” Do you have brothers and sisters?
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GB: Yeah, I have two sisters and one brother, one older and the other two are younger. So, kind of a big family, I guess. I would think its normal size for that day because nowadays people like to have one child or two children. Unless you're like, what is it, Kate Plus 8?
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RC: It sounds like you and your siblings had a pretty fun time growing up?
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GB: Well, there's a pretty big gap with the younger siblings. I believe my brother is seven or eight years younger and then my little sister’s another seven or eight between them. So, it's kind of like a fourteen-year gap between me and the youngest. We grew up near our cousins, so we always had kids to play with.
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RC: And were you involved in, any sort of—were you around horses, or rodeo, or anything growing up?
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GB: My dad learned rodeo from my uncles and just went with it. And then we were born, me and my older sister, and we kind of just grew up on the road—loaded up into a van in the middle of the night, and drive to a rodeo, and then hang out and play underneath the bleachers, and watch our dad rope. And then, as we got more comfortable with riding and he put us on or he, like, sat us up there, we were like, “We want to do this.” So, we did junior rodeos and little gymkhanas. And then my older sister was very good at sports, so she didn't really do it past like, going into middle school. But I ended up going into high school rodeo. And I did that.
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RC: So, you have a pretty strong background in it?
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GB: Yeah. It's more of a love than just kinda something you picked up. I’m still having the passion to get better, to do better at rodeos. It’s kind of just what I love.
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RC: Nice. So, did you graduate from college?
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GB: I did not, unfortunately. I chose a subject that I’m passionate about but didn't have the focus to remain and do well. And so, I don’t have a college degree.
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RC: What was the subject?
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GB: I went in for pre-veterinarian. Which, there are some days where I think, “Oh, I totally could do that now.” But that’s more bills on top of bills that I have to pay for, right, being an adult. Before it was like, “Oh, I can just go to school, have my parents pay for it.” But it’s not the same now.
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RC: Yeah. So, what do you do for work now?
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GB: I am a blackjack dealer.
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RC: Oh.
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GB: Yeah. It’s fun. I mean, it's fun for me. […] It's fun…90 percent of the time. Ten percent it's, like, dealing with a disgruntled guest or a player that didn't win.
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RC: And where do you work?
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GB: I work in Scottsdale at Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Arizona. I've been there eleven years. I’ve also been doing this going on 14 years, since I turned 21, mostly.
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RC: And you said you were born on the Navajo Reservation?
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GB: Yeah.
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RC: Are you Navajo?
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GB: I am 100 percent Navajo, yes. And my parents, um, they were lucky enough to grow up with family that their first language was Navajo. And then they went to school and they learned English afterwards. Not the same as […] growing up we lived with quite a bit of, what is that, Caucasian families? And they spoke English. So, the difference between me speaking English because we lived with a bunch of families is different than having Navajo kids just normally. The English is a little different. That's kind of how they were. It wasn't like a normal thing to hear people speak English then. Them learning afterwards, it just kind of evolved.
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RC: In your household, then, did you speak primarily Navajo?
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GB: When we were young, it was kinda just English. In high school, me and my older sister had to take Navajo language as an elective to meet the requirements for certain Navajo scholarships for college. We did that and we did pick up on most of it. Conversation-wise, we're not very good but we know certain words and we fill in the blanks, mostly.
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RC: So, when your parents are talking, you can…?
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GB: You’re like, “Oh, they're talking about us.” And then like, “Uh…no, it's not good, let's go.” But Rosetta Stone did make it as a language, so I plan to get that. Because my grandmother passed away two years ago, and I couldn’t really have a conversation with her because she never spoke English. She knew certain words like “pop” or “soda,” but having a conversation with her was, well, was never achieved. I missed out on that.
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RC: So, you did rodeo in high school and then did you keep doing rodeo after that?
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GB: I still compete in both rodeos. I mean, I’m a member of the Gay Rodeo Association, but I also compete in the World Series of team roping, and Indian rodeos, and, just everywhere where horses take me, really. I didn’t really stop. I did traditional rodeos all through high school ‘cause, at the time, I was competitive enough to stick with people that are older than me. And doing high school rodeo was, it was just fun. I didn't have a great partner then because I kind of got into it late. I started my senior year and so I kinda got the leftovers, I think. So, sometimes it clicked, most of the time it didn’t, but it was still fun.
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RC: How did you discover the IGRA?
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GB: I think I was like nineteen or twenty, and I was hearing all this gay stuff, like, “I think there's a gay rodeo.” And I searched it up on the internet. And then I forgot to delete the search history and my mom was like, “What is this?” I was like, “Oh, I was just wondering if they had an association for themselves.” Because I didn't come out until I was twenty-one, so it kinda led into something that I wasn't prepared for. So, when did I go? My first gay rodeo was—I think I was twenty-three.
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RC: You came out before you joined?
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GB: Yeah, I joined in February of 2009. So, I’d already been twenty-one, or maybe it’s twenty-four. Yeah, twenty-four. And so, that’s when I joined them and went to my first rodeo. And I wasn't as involved then as I am now. At the time, I was living paycheck to paycheck and I was like, “I really have to watch my money.” And when I went to my first rodeo and I got paid I was like, “Man, this check isn't really what I'm used to winning.” Like, when I win, it’s not very big, so then I was like, “Okay….”
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RC: So, did you participate in the first IGRA rodeo that you went to?
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GB: Yes. I entered; I went…. I think I got there Friday during the day. And then I went and I kinda did some research on, like, entering, and reading the rulebook, and new contestants will have no late fee. I was like, “Okay.” So, I went, and I registered, and I competed. I did well. I think I won the breakaway and I might have placed in the team roping. But I was still new so I kind of—I competed and then right after I was done, I would go back to my truck and I would sit in my truck because I didn't know anybody and not a lot of people talked to me. So, I just kinda went back to the truck and then sat in there and waited ‘till my event came up again and then went back to the arena.
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RC: And then, you decided relatively soon after that to go to another one? Or did you think about it for a while?
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GB: Um, no. I think the next rodeo I went to was like August. That was in Las Vegas. And it, that rodeo, was only a one-round rodeo. So, I went to that and did well. I didn't take my own horse then. And I asked somebody, “Hey, can I borrow your horse for this event?” And, fortunately, she said “Yes.” And I did well on it. And then, um, I think I went to my first finals—that was in Albuquerque in 2009. And I didn't have enough points to go in the team roping myself, so I had to partner with somebody and then get invited through them. I made it in the breakaway also, so then I had two events. Did that, and it was fun for me.
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RC: And is that when you kind of started meeting more people?
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GB: I mean… yeah, but there wasn't a bunch of communication. Like, I was either too shy or I didn't know their phone number. Back then, I think it was like MySpace, and I just didn't get all that together yet. But, um, I went to—the next year, I think I went to three rodeos. But I didn't go to finals because I had just gotten this new job and I kinda was like, “Now I have to wait.” I was tempted to do the suicide missions of going to work, and then driving three hours to the rodeo, rodeoing, drive back, sleep for like 30 minutes, and then go to work again. I was like, “I think I can do that,” but I was like, “I can't, because when I am going to sleep? And I might run off the road with my horses.” So, I opted not to go to the finals. And it was sad because it was fairly close to me and I really like the facility because I've been there before.
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RC: So, what are your main events that you compete in?
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GB: Currently?
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RC: Yeah—has it changed over time?
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GB: Oh, yeah. Back then, I think I did the calf roping on foot, break-away, team roping, barrels, poles, and flags. And I tried wild drag then, but never really was successful so not a lot of people asked me or competed with me. But now I do break-away, calf roping on foot, team roping, barrels, poles, flags, steer decorating, goat dressing, and wild drag.
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RC: You do a lot of them!
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GB: Yeah. It's an all-day event. Things just go, and go, and go. Like, from the moment we wake up to feed the horses, to the night when cleaning stalls, and watering, and graining; having sometime to eat something, or get relaxed enough to have a drink and hang out with people. Sometimes, I'm just not feeling it. I'm just so run down, I’m like “I'm going to sleep.” And it does… make it look like I don't want to be around people, but I’m literally just thinking about myself like, “I want to be able to do well tomorrow.”
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RC: Do you go to a lot more rodeos now?
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GB: Right now, I think I went to seven. Arizona, Palm Springs, Santa Fe, Denver, San Francisco, Vegas, and finals. So, yeah, seven. When I first started, I only went to two a year and now I go to seven. And, I mean, I really wouldn’t to be able to go to that many without my sponsors because they do help financially and they're supportive enough to, like—I'm able to get to there without having trouble or being in a predicament where I wouldn't be able to enter as many rodeos.
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RC: What's the process like for finding sponsors?
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GB: I would think it’s—I think it's mostly about personality and what you bring to the table. I mean, anybody can be good but you’re essentially representing that association, or those people. So, the process, I mean, I went up and I talked to people. Face-to-face is always easier and you're gonna get a better response than writing a letter. And I've done that. I've written letters and I've gotten turned down. And some sponsors asked, “What can you do for us?” I'm like, “Well, this is what I plan to do. I don't know if it'll work.”
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RC: So, who are your sponsors now?
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GB: I’m sponsored by Charlie's of Phoenix and John King—he owns the bar there in Phoenix. And my friend owns his own horse—performance horse training— and providing horses, and he sponsors me as well. I do have another sponsor in California. She is an equine therapist, it's called “A Step Ahead Equine.” And she does Acuscope and Myoscope treatments, sort of like relaying micro-pulses of electricity through your body to help and heal. So, she's done treatment on my horses and myself—like when I tore my ACL, when I broke my leg, and when I fell off a horse. She treated me after the rodeo. It really did help with soreness.
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RC: So, have you had many injuries throughout your career?
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GB: I don't know. I wouldn't say… there's only been like one real injury where it did take me out, or—two actually—that really took me out from competing. One was a concussion where I tried to ride steer riding, and that didn't work out too good. And then, the second was when I broke my leg in the pole bending. I had a horse up front, unfortunately, slip and fall. And my ankle was the one that took everything, and it broke it. Stopped the rodeo. Ugh. That wasn't…. but it was fun.
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GB: I mean, in the sense that when I fell and I was laying in the middle of the arena, and people were trying to hide me from the crowd because they didn’t want to see what would happen, or if I was gonna say something. But I guess I was like, “Why are you guys hiding me from my fans?” [laughs] In all honesty, my ankle really didn't hurt until I got to the hospital. I think the adrenaline had worn off by then.
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RC: How long before you could compete again after that?
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GB: So, I think I got on a horse… a month after. Way before I was allowed to, but that's just, that’s just me. I don't want to be away from that. And I watched this movie recently, it was sad. It was very sad. It's like, I think it's “One of Us” or something like that. Where it’s talking with people about getting injured and ending up in a wheelchair. One person was injured when they were a toddler, somebody was injured like two weeks ago and they’re quadriplegic.
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GB: And it was sad because they're like, “I just want to get back.” Like one guy did stem cell and it didn't work, and he was like, “I’m fighting to get back to be able to walk.” And one guy kind of made improvements. But I guess that's what was in me. Like, I didn't want to get stuck away from that. I didn’t want to be that person that it got taken away from me. I think that's why I tried to get back as fast—trying not to lose what I love.
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RC: And was that—where you injured yourself—at an IGRA event or rodeo?
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GB: Yes. All the times that I've actually been injured has been in a gay rodeo. I got concussed doing gay rodeo that took me out of rodeo for the rest of the day. But apparently, I didn't know what was going on. Like, I would, I kept asking the same questions. Then, I got injured again when the horse broke its leg. And then, at finals in Albuquerque, I got kicked in the knee and tore my ACL. But I didn't know it. That was the second event of that first day, the first go, and I competed that whole weekend and ended up second in the all-around. But I won the team roping and the break-away. Not knowing that, I had a torn ACL for like eight months until I got it fixed. I competed that whole next year with the torn ACL. Can't stop me, I guess.
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RC: I guess not, yeah. And it sounds like you've won a number of all-arounds and other things?
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GB: Oh, that's, I mean…
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RC: Do you have some titles you’re particularly proud of?
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GB: I am particularly proud of the individual event that… I am very strong in the breakaway roping. It's fast; it can be difficult. The timing part and being together with your horse, it really does make it challenging for myself. And anytime I can be a two, I'm thrilled about it. But there are times where I have gone in no time and.... that's the one I really beat myself up on. If I make a mistake in that event, then I really am upset about that. As far as team events, I have been team roping basically my whole life and any time I can win the team roping with my partner—which is, I would say, ninety-nine percent of the time at the gay rodeos, is my best friend—and anytime we can win that together, it just it just makes everything that much better.
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GB: I don't know. Winning the all-around for the year end, does make things that much better. If you win the all-around, then you’re there. You’re on fire because you can't win the all-around just by winning a little bit. […] This past finals, the finals was really in my home town—basically where I live now. And I, I did let the pressure get to me the first day. I really wanted to do good, I just…. And that doesn’t happen all too often. But, the second day, I kicked butt. It was fun. I guess, I just let everything go. I was like, “I can do the things I can control but that's about it. I can't really hang on to yesterday because that doesn't make any—that doesn't make me get points for today.”
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RC: Did you have any family members or friends come and watch you?
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GB: My little sister has recently been an amazing cheerleader and team supporter of me and my friends. So, she was there all day. I think she got there Friday-ish late and stayed the whole weekend. My older sister came Saturday, and she stayed pretty much the whole day. And that's a big thrill. I did hear her when I was running poles. I heard her, like, I know distinctly I can hear her voice. And she's like, “Go!” I was like, I heard it. I was like, “Wait, I’m doing something right now. I gotta focus!” [laughs] But, this rodeo association has kind of become a family to me. We look out for each other, we help each other when we need it, or if we can. So, it's never like I'm alone. That’s just kind of how it's been for me. I don't know about everybody else, but it kinda transformed into a rodeo family and makes everything a little bit better.
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RC: That's actually something I hear over and over again.
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GB: Yeah, well, growing up in traditional rodeo and going all these ropings, you do get that same camaraderie. Sometimes it’s, they're out to beat each other, to win. And some people can't, if they're winning, they can allow themselves to help out somebody who needs it. The competitiveness drives more than just being normal—just a normal person. But here, not always. I mean, there are some people that just compete for themselves. It happens. Can't really control that part of that.
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GB: But, if I can help you in any way that you're going to do your best or that I can help you to do your best, I'm going to do it. If you need me to stand in the box with your horse right before I have to go, I’m gonna try to help you if nobody else can help you. I've helped several of my competitors do that this year because they, not only do they make me compete harder and with more heart, it just makes the rodeo better. When people are catching, and riding, and doing the best, then they're making a good showing. Why not try to help them?
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RC: So, is that kind of one of the big differences you’ve seen? Since you've been involved in different rodeos, is there something that makes IGRA different than the other rodeos you've been involved with?
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GB: Oh, man. It's not, there’s not a difference between night and day. It's like, little small things. It's an association that is including, like, down to the timers and volunteers. That in, that sense, what I see is different than traditional rodeos. I don't see a whole lot of the production side of traditional rodeos and what is involved. I go there, show up, rope, sometimes I leave immediately after. Sometimes I wait and watch some of the rodeo, or I get there early and watch part of the rodeo.
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GB: But, since I'm in so many events in the gay rodeo, I see it a whole different side and things that are different from my point of view. But, it's a rodeo. I mean, I can't really say that it's that much different, other than the quality of contestants is different. And, you're going to get that from different associations and rodeo backgrounds—like there are people that learn how to ride at an older age, or people that rode a long time ago but their training technique has is behind the curve, coming up and learning new things. So, it's not something that is directly different.
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RC: Okay. And, so are you involved in any of—sort of—the planning and behind the scenes type of stuff?
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GB: I am not. I would like to think I'm a leader, but I'm really not. [laughs] I am a very good teammate. I’m “You asked me to do this. I'll do it.” If you have an idea, I can help out, structuring it and figuring out how exactly to do it but I am not a good planner. I… planning doesn’t work for my lifestyle. Anything that I plan goes to crap and so I don't plan. I am very spontaneous. I take off when I want to. Like, buying plane tickets is hard because I'm like, “I don't want to go now.”
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RC: But I bet you have to do that for a lot of rodeos, right? Or, do you drive your horses?
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GB: Um, I drive. I drive because I have horses. And so, there's no, I mean, if that were an option, it would be easier—but no. This trip was probably one of the few that I didn't have to worry about my horses. But I had to make reservations for a hotel, and make flight plans, and stuff like that. And then, the last minute I was like, “I'll just take my own truck to the airport and park it at the east parking lot instead of having to get dropped off. […] The plan was to get dropped off, and then somebody drive me home so I could get my truck, so I could go to work. But then, I ended up changing that like, literally, the last minute. So, yeah, planning doesn’t work for me.
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RC: But you made it here!
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GB: Oh, yeah. That was always the goal. I wouldn't say a plan, but it was always the goal. And, like, a couple of days before I was leaving, I was like, “I’ll just stay home. They don’t need me.” But, probably should—I need to do something.
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RC: Is your local organization Arizona?
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GB: Yeah. Yeah, I kind of ventured away for a couple of years and then I went back. But I’ve always been with Arizona.
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RC: And did you—you said you did a couple camp events, is that right?
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GB: Yeah. I do the steer decorating, the goat dressing, and the wild drag.
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RC: So, you do a lot of them.
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GB: Yeah, I do a lot of it.
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RC: Are those events that you enjoy being part of the rodeo?
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GB: Um, I… I don’t know. It’s just, sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's challenging. And I do almost all—I do all my team events with my best friend. So, we know when somebody’s slacking or if they can't do it. And if we can't get it done, then we just say, “That's it, we left it all out there.” But, I mean, some of the events are funny. It just cracks me up. So I can't really say that, I mean, there's no event like it other than in gay rodeo. Like, the wild drag is an easier way of doing wild horse racing, being that they use a wild horse, and they put a saddle on the horse, and they let it go. Basically, they let it go. They don't drive it like we do with a steer.
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RC: So, is your best friend someone you met here? Or did they…
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GB: So, I met my best friend, yeah, through gay rodeo. But that's not how you should meet her best friend.
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RC: Why do you say that?
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GB: I met my best friend David in Palm Springs, like, six years ago now. And I had roped in the break-away and I won the first round, like by a considerable amount. But David was second, and his time was pretty good. And, on average, the times aren’t always great. So, I was like, “Oh, well, this is somebody that's gonna rope.” And then, um, he had slaughtered everybody in the barrel racing. And I ran but it wasn't that great. And then, like, I guess the tradition after that rodeo was everybody was supposed to go to the same restaurant and eat there. And it was called Grandmas, or something like that. It was like a small diner. And so, you get this huge block of corn bread with almost every meal.
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GB: And so, he's sitting there eating and then, he's like, “So are you gonna rope the same?” Or something came up with me roping and he wanted to barrel race I said, “Do you really need to be eating that cornbread?” And it was so bad! Like, it sounds really bad, but it was kind of like funny/shady. So, our best friends started with an insult. […] And then, I think we danced on Sunday night like normal, I guess. I don't know. We just danced. I was like, “No, I don’t want to dance.” And he’s like, “I'll show you. So, we just danced, and then like five, three—like three months later—the Bay Area Rodeo was happening and he had normally roped with this team roping partner.
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GB: And she went another way and teamed up with somebody else. And so, he was kind of searching for a partner. And then, he, I guess he got my phone number from somebody, he's like, “Hey, this is David [...].” And I'm like, “Uh, hi?” And he’s like, “If you fly up here, I'll find you a horse to ride in the barrels and poles. Will you rope with me in the team roping?” And I was like, “Um, I’d have to check with work but, I mean, yeah. That sounds fun.” And so I went there. And then we kicked his old partners butt in the team roping. And we’ve kind of been friends since. I mean, it evolved into being best friends and treating him like family. So, that's kind of just what we have. Our relationship started with me being shady.
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RC: So, do you country dance much? Or do other dance?
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GB: I don't. I don't dance country very often. […] And even if, it looks very amateur. But dancing is fun. I don't go out, typically, a whole lot. I haven't really been into that scene. So, yeah, I’m kind of like the boring homebody. I like being home with family, it feels more comfortable. That’s just me.
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RC: Yeah. Do you have any favorite moments from rodeos?
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GB: Oh, there—geeze—that's a big one. [pause] My favorite of, like, all time—well, one of them is when I, we went to Canada for the rodeo there in 2015. In order for […] me and David's rodeo to be somewhat financially profitable, we had to run the same course in one event. And I ran my, I ran, I won, the pole bending buckle that weekend. And, it was just, it wasn't easy because I had to run against David on the same horse. And that horse, he’s had that horse forever. And to get that, to be able to beat him, was a feat in itself.
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GB: And then I ended up riding that horse at finals that year. And I ran my first twenty on the pole bending on him. And that, I mean running twenties, is hard unless you're really small, like a small girl or a small guy and just having a horse that works really good. But to be over 200 pounds, you’re resisting—like that resistance is heavier, so it's going to slow you down anyway. But to ride my first twenty was amazing. I cried. It was awesome. But then…there's so many highlights in my life as far as rodeo goes. Like almost winning a truck, or winning a roping in Vegas. It—there's too many—there's too many highlights to say that one is better than the other because it just fills up everything.
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RC: Yeah. Do you sport your buckles that you’ve won very often?
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GB: Um, some of them. There's quite a few, so the prettiest ones, I guess I wear. I guess the buckle company sometimes that they order from, they end up just selecting the same outline and so they kind of look—a quite a bit of them—a few look at the same. Most of the time I wear them. Like right now I'm wearing the all-around buckle from the 2015, from the finals. It’s one I’m proud of.
[00:39:18]
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RC: And do you plan to kinda keep being involved in IGRA in the future?
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GB: Um, so long as it's still around, I plan to be in it. There's nothing that stops me really from going. Probably unless I got, like, if I had gotten a partner that was mind controlling and beat me if I left the house, that probably would be the only way stop. But I'm not in to those kind of people…
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RC: That’s good.
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GB: I guess nothing would really stop me. And I do support the association, and being that it's a charity event, it does—it gives back. I'm proud of that. I'm the entertainment. I'm like, I wouldn’t say I'm Beyoncé. But, if she were to do a benefit concert, I’m that. I'm that singer. But I can't sing. I’m horrible.
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RC: [laughs] You’re the Beyoncé that doesn't sing?
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GB: Yes. I'm a mime.
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RC: [laughs] Nice. Well, what do you think about IGRA in the future? Do you have any hopes or fears?
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GB: Ah, […] Hope is tough, because people feed on hope, and it doesn't happen, and it hurts. Like, I'm one of the youngest competitors. And I’m 34. So our pool hasn't really grown lately. Being that there are associations that pay better and there are gay cowboys and gay cowgirls that see that. They see the dollar signs. But they don't realize what can happen when you compete here. They don't have, they don't realize that, to be—their success isn’t judged by how much you win. Like, you can be successful and be friends with everybody. When you compete in traditional barrel races, you know, there's winners. But it’s not all about the money. I mean, in some senses, where I do enter, it's about money. Yeah, for sure. I'm going for that. But, to be able to hang out with people and feel like I don't have to worry about anything.
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RC: Do you feel like you have to worry about stuff when you compete in non-IGRA rodeos?
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GB: Oh, um, not anymore.
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RC: Okay.
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GB: I kind of give the, the notion that, nothing they do to me can hurt me. Unless they physically hurt me. I've crossed that mental barrier a long time ago. I put up with the, kind of the, hazing, as you could call it. I don’t, I mean, I don't care that I'm different in the sense that I like the same sex. But people do. And sometimes their view changes—and that's cool. But I won't make the decision to go or not because of some person. I'll do it foremost if my horse is healthy, or if I'm healthy, or financially I can make it.
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GB: That's what I plan on, or that’s what I go on. I don't go on the fact that somebody’s not going to like me. I’m real sure that not every person likes me. I'm not going to stop because some person doesn't think that I should be there. I've taken straight people's money just as much as I do the gay people's money. And being that competitor—like, I grew up doing high school sports and junior rodeos—I’ve always wanted to be. So, it doesn't matter where I’m at, I’m still going to try to win.
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RC: Nice. So, do you think that the money, maybe, is kind of the main thing that is holding back, maybe the younger generation from joining?
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GB: I think some. I think some view the money more, yeah. But I think some see that it's “gay,” the word “gay” is in there. And that’s gonna make people look at them differently.
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RC: Even if they are people that identify that way?
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GB: Yeah. I mean, I know a couple that recently got married that they go to all these barrel races, and they post about it, and they posted their wedding pictures. And they don’t come to our rodeos. I mean, I wouldn't understand why, because they live in Arizona. But like, why? I mean, our entry fees aren’t more than the barrel races that they go to, so I can’t see why. And if they think they have such great horses, why wouldn’t you go and show off a little bit? If you're going for the money, try to take our money. But they're scared. In some sense, they’re scared. They don’t want to be known, I guess. I mean, that's my personal opinion. I don't know if that's truly how it is. But typically, when people get beat up or... something gets taken away from somebody is because part of them is scared. They’re scared of something.
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RC: Yeah…
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GB: I don't know. Can’t really help them.
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RC: Yeah. Yeah, there's not much you can do then…
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GB: No. I mean, I've reached out even to people that I know that are gay. And I try to keep—I tried to say, “Hey, just so you know, there's a rodeo coming up that's pretty close—if you can make it.” And then sometimes they're like, “I don't have a horse right now, or financially I can't go.” And that's understandable. But I do try to reach out. Some people have asked me for help on how to do things or coaching. But I can't force—I can't manipulate people into going. They have to ultimately choose to go. And it sucks because some of the competitors that are good now won't be good next year. Don’t know.
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RC: Yeah.
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GB: I mean, I've gone so far as taking my little brother who is straight. And we competed in a few—like one year, we competed in the team roping. I hold the, our association's record in the team roping with him. That’s the fastest time. So, I’m proud of that.
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RC: So, does your little brother also do rodeo?
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GB: Yes. Everybody has done rodeo—even my mom, like, back in the day. She doesn't compete anymore, but she's a good videographer and she stresses for us more than we stress for ourselves. My older sister doesn't compete anymore. After our good horse when we were kids got hurt, and we had to retire him, that kinda fire left. So, she doesn't compete anymore. But I am roping with my brother in Vegas in a couple of weeks and excited about that. Really excited. So, I'm practicing a lot. And just getting ready for that. And we just had a rodeo this past weekend, just outside of Phoenix, with my dad and my brother.
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RC: Sounds like you stay very busy.
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GB: Oh, yeah. This weekend there was a roping that I wanted to go to but then I was asked quite a bit ago to come to this—to the convention. And so, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll go.”
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RC: Are you serving as a delegate here?
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GB: Yes. For the Arizona Gay Rodeo.
138
RC: Nice. And have you been to convention before, or is this…?
[00:49:22]
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GB: I have never been. It's kind of an eye-opener. Sitting in rodeo rules, it's interesting the logic behind some people’s thoughts and how some person views this and, like, trying to change some rules to make it easier or more better for the contestants. But we’ll see what happens. I mean, it's not…voted. It's not approved yet by the whole convention. So, we'll see.
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RC: That's tomorrow?
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GB: Yeah.
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GB: We'll see how people like me then. They might not like me anymore.
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RC: Do you feel like you’ve been outspoken on some issues since you've been here?
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GB: Yes, yes. But...I always get the notion that people don't like me anyway. But, it's not like hatred, is just like “How many times are you gonna win?” Like, “You won, why don't you let us win.” I mean, I guess it's just the practice that I put in. I've been doing this a long time, so it's very…the muscle memory is there. And it might be a mental game with some people. I mean, I don't know. I mean, if you were to ask me, “What did I do wrong?” Well, this is what I saw but I don’t know how you feel like you were doing it. When I mess up or I do something wrong, I watched tons of videos. I go back and I watch it, and I break it down. I just pick myself apart to make myself a little bit better every time.
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RC: So, do you—you don't have to share this—but, were there any rules that you suggested changes to?
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GB: Um, yes. Two of them. One was with break away, just having a uniform string through all of it. Because some people use different densities or quality of string. And some is easier to break, and some is harder. Like, I rope with the hardest one to break. But it makes a pop and it makes the rope fly out faster. That’s just me.
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RC: Nice. Okay, So, is there anything that I haven't asked you about that you would like to add?
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GB: Um… I'm very single. [laughs]
149
RC: [laughs] You want me to put that on the website?
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GB: Yes.
151
RC: Okay.
152
GB: No, I don’t know. I really don't know because there are tons of things to talk about, tons of things that don't get spoken on. But it doesn’t directly have to do with me. So, I don't—I don't stick my feet where I don't need to be. Um…I just wish there’d be more, I mean, I wish there were sponsors for our association that would allow us to probably grow as well as the PRCA, or even like some of the amateur rodeos that get kind of national sponsorships. I just kind of wish...I guess, I just wish we weren’t turned away as much as others. […] I reached out to one company, and they were like, “Well, we don’t support that.” So, wow, okay.
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RC: Wow, that’s frustrating.
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GB: Yes. Don't tell anybody this, but I eat Chick-fil-A. [laughs] They employ gay people, so who cares?
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RC: Yeah… that’s a personal choice.
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GB: I like Chick-fil-A, though.
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RC: I have never actually eaten Chick-fil-A.
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GB: Oh, my God!
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RC: Just because, I never really have. [laughs]
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GB: It's, like, right out here.
161
RC: I saw it over there.
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GB: It’s so good.
163
RC: [laughs] Okay. Um, so the last question that I usually ask everyone is whether you consider yourself to be a cow person/a cowboy or cowgirl.
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GB: Ooh. That's a tough question.
[00:54:06]
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RC: That’s why I save it for last.
[00:54:12]
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GB: In a sense that I'm a performance rodeo athlete, yeah. But as far as the old historic term of being a cowboy, I don't work on a ranch. I don’t heard cattle. I mean, yes. I do when they get out and I have to chase them back to the house. But, I mean, I know how to castrate a horse. I’ve done it twice this year, so there’s that. [laughs] But…as far as being an athlete, I am a cowboy. As far as farming and taking care of animals—like, animal husbandry—yes. But herding animals, no. It’s just, it’s a big question. It’s like, do you consider yourself a professional interviewer?
167
RC: Huh. Probably not.
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GB: But you are an interviewer.
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RC: Yeah. Yeah, well, I mean, it's however you want to answer it. It’s whatever nuance you want to bring to it, right?
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GB: Just, I mean, I feel like I am a performance athlete. Because I trained my body, I trained my mind, I trained my horses. Perfect practice makes perfect, not practice makes perfect. Because you can practice whenever and do whatever but until you try to make. perfect in everything…I mean, essentially perfect is never going to be attainable, but if you can allow yourself to train as if you could be perfect, that is attainable. Yeah. I think, I don't know…That's how I see myself, as a performance athlete.
[00:55:28]
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RC: Okay, cool. Well, thank you very much for sharing some time with me today.
[00:56:23]
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GB: No Problem
173
RC: I'm going to go ahead and stop this.