Interview with Patrick Terry

Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 21, 2017 | Interviewer: Rebecca Scofield

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Rebecca Scofield: This is Rebecca Scofield and I am here with Patrick Terry and it's October 21st, 2017, and we're at the World Gay Rodeo Finals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Can you tell me when you were born?
Patrick Terry: Yes, November 25th, 1957. I celebrate my 60th birthday next month.
RS: Congratulations!
PT: Yes, I am treating myself to a cruise.
RS: That's gonna be amazing. So where were you born?
PT: Denver, Colorado.
RS: And...
PT: Born and raised on the west side, graduated from Almeida High School, and then went on to college and graduated from CU. I have a bachelors in PR and business management.
RS: So the area you grew up in, was it pretty urban?
PT: Yes, yes.
RS: Did you grow up as a city kid?
PT: No. People might say I did, but I didn't 'cause even though I didn't have my own horse, I had people that had them and so I was constantly riding.
RS: Were you pretty horse crazy as a kid?
PT: Yes I was. Always have been and still am.
RS: When did you first learn to ride?
PT: Oh gosh, I would say probably about when I was about 6, 7 years old, I first rode and I then I knew. I knew then, and still do, that I love it... So then, you know, through high school, our high school didn't offer an equine type of program like that so I went into the program called the Westernaires, which is a professional riding, I mean kids riding, group that puts on a show for public events. And when I was in it there was about 15, no there was about 500 people in it, and now there's 2,500.
RS: Oh, wow.
PT: Yeah.
RS: And to do that, did you have to have your own horse?
PT: No. And see, I was fortunate enough that my father's boss had a horse and so I was able to do it. But of the four kids, I was the only one who took an interest in doing it, and so I did it and then, you know, had my own horse for a while and then sold it for different reasons, various financial and everything. But I always have had that passion to ride and be a part of rodeos and everything else. And so then, I came out as a gay man in 1987 and right away jumped right into it, into the western lifestyle and gay rodeo, and have gone on from there.
RS: And so, when did you first know you were gay?
PT: Very interesting question, because people, a lot of people will say you're born with it. I don't believe that at all. I have gone through two engagements to women and it was during my year that I travelled in Up With People, which is a singing/performing group that travels all over the world, I did that and was a staff member also one year, that I started having feelings because, you know, a lot of times we'd share, 'cause we stayed with host families wherever we went, so a lot of times we'd share a bed with another handsome man. You know, 85% of the men in Up With People are gay because its theater and production.
PT: And so I started having these feelings, and then I was so scared because my brother, my little brother, was gay. And it all came out when he was 16 and it wasn't good. He got caught fooling around in the park, got arrested, you know. My dad had to go bail him out. My dad bailed him out and then kicked him out of the house and wanted nothing to do with him. And so he grew up. And I have always said, he paved the path for me to be able to come out because it was so much easier for me to come out. My father never knew that I was before he passed away but my mom, I told her right away. I said, "You know, this is it. I am this."
PT: My brother had seen me working at a gay bar. He came for the grand opening of this one particular bar and I was bartending. And it was kind of, kind of... not a real good thing. But he, rather than talk or say anything, he goes and stands right in front of the register where I was bartending, he and his partner, all night. And so, then he brings it up at Thanksgiving, that I have this job. And he says, you know, "What's your extra job that you're doing?" 'Cause at the time I was working in retail.
PT: At that time I was store, I mean department, manager for the entire mens' department of Bradburry Southwest. I had seven departments in one, 55 employees, 3 assistants, and it was a multimillion dollar business a year. It was big. I was the first one with that company to ever have multiple departments. So, I was working there and doing that and then I started, you know, going to gay bars and then, all of a sudden, they're asking me, "You wanna bartend?" And so I did. I went to Charlie's and in 1987, it was probably in August or September, and, right away, they were in the process of moving downtown from the Aurora area, they said, "You wanna work here?" And I helped put the new bar together and everything else. Which, ironically, was the same place where I went to my senior high school homecoming dinner. It used to be a restaurant called Emerson Street East and it's ironic to go back into that building. And I was bartending, DJing, waiting, bar backing, and everything.
PT: And so, after I'd left the other bar and went on with Charlie's, then it was after that because the owner, the general manager, he was one of the founders: Wayne Jakino, he was one of the founders of IGRA and CGRA. Actually, CGRA first and then IGRA. He pushed me into getting more involved. I went to my first rodeo in Phoenix, Arizona, finals rodeo, in 1987 and had a great time and everything else and I said, "This is it; I want to." So I did, and I got in. And so, in 1988, I joined CGRA and from there the general manager continued to push me into a position that he had helped create for the International, which was the administrative assistant, and so I took over for a guy that got sick and eventually died of AIDs.
PT: I took over 1993, worked in the office as the administrative assistant for 10 years 'till 2003 and then resigned from that for other reasons, you know, which probably aren't so important. But I did that and have been involved, basically, with gay rodeo since 1988. Have been rodeo director of Denver's rodeo twice, I've been finals rodeo director, can't remember what year... 2013. How can I forget that? 2013. I was finals rodeo director in Fort Worth, Texas, and have served on various committees, not only at CGRA level but also IGRA level. I've been trustee for CGRA twice and have done other things, committees and everything else.
PT: Then in 2000... gosh, sorry can't remember, either 2013 or 2012. I think it was '12, I was inducted into the hall of fame. I found out that I was not only nominated once, but twice in the same year. The first year that I was nominated, I went into the hall of fame. It's very dear to me. It's an honor. It's, you know, means a lot. And I've served on that committee and everything else but I had to recuse myself because I was on the committee at the time I was nominated. So the chair said that I had to back out of it during the process of them deciding who was gonna make it. And so, I believe it was in 2012, was at convention in Las Vegas, my rodeo mom and dad and my real mom, sister, and her husband came to it and supported me during this time of recognition and everything. And so...
RS: So, can I ask, going back, what year did you travel with Up With People?
PT: 84 and '85.
RS: 84 and '85. So, it was right around there that you came out?
PT: It was after. Basically, right towards the end of it in '85 and then, I was so scared at first because I saw what my brother had gone through. And I was so scared that I stayed in the closet for two years until coming out in 1987.
RS: And did anything particularly draw you to Charlie's, to the sort of country western side?
PT: I loved the music, I loved the dancing, I loved the animals. And, through the years I've done various things with IGRA including, one of them being, I was score keeper for several years. I did it but I didn't really like it because it took me away from the contestants. And during the 10 years that I was the administrative assistant, I worked directly with the contestants, and that to me was the thing.
PT: So, now that I've taken a couple of years off and I've come back, today reassured me. I belong with the contestants, not up in the booth, but back there. So I pulled gates, did the gates for the speed events, for the horse contests, and everybody was really excited to see me. Not only see me back 'cause after being gone for two years, but that I was wanting to volunteer. I said, "Well, it's just, I can't just sit there and watch. There is no way I can go and sit in an audience and not participate."
RS: So, at the very first rodeo you went to, did you compete or did you just watch?
PT: Nope, I just watched.
RS: And what did you think?
PT: I was hooked. I was hooked and I was ready to start competing, and started competing in 1988.
RS: And what events did you compete in?
PT: I did calf roping on foot, wild drag, steer deco, goat dressing, chute dogging, steer riding, and bull riding. And I competed from 1998, I started competing right away, and I competed until, I think it was about 1994, '95. And then I went into the certification. I was getting too old. It was too hard to come back from the injuries. And at that time we had 20 to 25 rodeos a year and, I mean, sometimes we had rodeos that were back-to-back, and so it was hard to recuperate and then go do it again. But it's, it was something I always wanted. My mother refused to come watch. She, you know, I think she supported me, she just didn't want to see me in case I got hurt. I had my injuries. I definitely did. Broke both collar bones, almost every rib, and got stepped on and, you know, but its still....
PT: And, I've been thinking about it, when I started to get back involved with CGRA, I started thinking about that I would love to one time go back and steer ride. So, possibly next year, I'm going to do it. Just do it one time, just to satisfy my craving for it because it just, it, ugh, it is so hard to explain. People ask, "How can you ride a bull?" And it's so hard to describe because it's, in that moment, it is the biggest thrill you could ever have. And that, I always said, I'd never do broncs. I said it's too high. It's a lot higher up there to fall down. But, then, drawback is broncs usually don't come back after you, bulls do. Only thing I ever really attained, I mean that injury I had from bull riding, was a broken collarbone. And it was a fluke, it was a simple fluke. I fell off but I landed on my shoulder and it broke.
RS: What were those early rodeos like in the '80s?
PT: Oh my gosh, very well attended. I mean, you could go to the LA rodeo and, I am not kidding you, there were ten thousand people a day. Partying, out dancing, watching the rodeo, all these other things, and I mean, it was just, we were just thriving. And there were 20, 20 to 25 rodeos a year. We had up to 28 associations at one time in IGRA and it was really going really strong. I mean, pool parties at the San Diego rodeo. You just did not want to miss it.
PT: And so, it was all this, but the most important thing at all of this, and I realized this after being gone for two years, was the camaraderie and the friends. You meet friends that become your family and they, you know, you really do care about them. It's not that I don't care about my immediate family, but these people mean a lot to me, they do. And I had a lot of people yesterday and today say it's wonderful to see me back and that, you know, that they truly, really do love me and are excited that I'm back in it.
RS: And you mentioned your rodeo mom and dad. Who is that?
PT: Turned out to be... it was the funniest thing, because I was a certified scorekeeper and at the Chicago rodeo I got invited to be the score keeper. And this rodeo was on the facility, I mean on the grounds, of this couple's home. One of their sons lived across the driveway and everything, but then they had their own full arena back there and everything else. Well, when I first went in and met her and everything else, she thought I was the most pretentious queen that she'd ever seen. And it was so funny, but we grew to be so close, so close, I just... And when I was inducted into the hall of fame, she came to Las Vegas and she broke the news to me that she had cancer. And she fought it for about a year and passed away. And it was a very, very devastating to me. It was very, it was so hard. I just can't even imagine.
PT: And I, you know, I lost my father but my father and I weren't really close after my parents divorced because I was involved with, I was the one that found him, caught him cheating on her and everything. And then I had to help her out when he filed for divorce and moved out because she had never had a job 'cause she raised us four kids. And, all of a sudden, here she's in a five bedroom home and no money to have to pay utilities while this was going because he had taken their checking account and...
RS: How old were you when that happened?
PT: Let's see, I was... um... I'm trying to think... I would say maybe, '79 or '80, 1980. [...] They'd been married 28 years. We had, us four kids had, put on this huge party for them for their 25th anniversary. My parents traveled, through my father's business he was able to win these trips to go. They traveled all over the place. They went on a trip to Portugal, came home, mom said everything was fine, and then he didn't come home that night. He insisted on going bowling and, sure enough. I was the one who caught him doing the whole thing and it was devastating to me. So after that, my father and I did not speak and we had no communication with each other.
RS: And when did he pass?
PT: He passed in 1995, I think. No, he passed in 1991 'cause my brother passed away in 1995 of AIDs. He was, it was really interesting because I am HIV positive myself but I am in no danger. I have never been in danger because I accepted it and I dealt with it. My brother, little brother, was in total denial of the AIDs. And him and his partner had all these holistic views about saving him. So, it was very difficult 'cause when he did get sick, he was so sick. He went in the hospital and 18 days later he's gone. After being in the hospital, being fed intravenously, and he's losing a pound and a half a day, just deteriorating something terrible. I had to educate my entire family on what exactly was going on. They couldn't understand how I could be HIV positive, but he was in full blown AIDs, full-blown AIDs. His T cell count was five when he went in. They thought at first he had tuberculosis but, then upon starting to.... But my brother had been tested somewhere, don't know exactly where, but he used his social security number.
PT: And so, when he died, we got the death certificate and his partner really got upset because it put it on there, the information, they have to, that he had been HIV positive for 10 years and full-blown AIDs for 18 days that he was in the hospital. And so, you know, it was really difficult. So, I'm educating my family on what is going on with my brother deteriortating like that, and I just had to say it. In his final days, we spent lots of time together. We had never been real close because he always kinda despised me 'cause he was right behind me and I accelerated in school and he didn't and the teachers expected the same out of him that they got out of me, so it was difficult. He actually attempted suicide once, blaming me, and so it was a rough road but those, probably 15 of those 18 days, him and I had a lot of talk. A lot, you know, about each other and everything. So at least I got to go away with that. But he survived that.
RS: And, does your, how did your mother cope with that? With losing a child?
PT: She did very well, and she does very well with things like that, but I know, deep down, it was really difficult. But as far as the level, I was the most devastated because I was scared to death that this is what is gonna happen with me. But, I accepted when I found out that I was HIV positive, which was in 1995. I was on a study for HIV negative people and my test results came back positive. And, you know, people say different things. They used to say you could contract it and everything else but I know exactly what happened. I know when and strictly mine. But the nurse was just astonished, she could not believe it, so she had me come in and do another blood test 'cause she thought it was a false positive. And it turned out it wasn't.
PT: But my T cells have never, ever been below 500. I started taking medicine when they were between five and six hundred, the doctor felt it was a good time to do it. And I have applied, and my T cells are currently around the nine hundred to eleven hundred range so, I mean, the disease is there, it doesn't go away, but you have to accept it and you have to move on with it. And I've learned and felt really good about some things that have happened in my life, you know, becoming gay, coming out, and then becoming HIV positive. I don't look at it as a bad thing. It's something that's happened but with research and everything else, and I've participated in a lot of studies here in Colorado at the University of Colorado, I'm involved with studies. They call me all the time and do these different studies so they can work on trying to get, they're never gonna find a cure, but being able to control it.
PT: I was very, very lucky when I started taking meds, AZT was very, there was very little AZT in the meds. And I have only in my 20 years, 15 or 20 years now, I have been on two different kinds of medicine. And I currently only take two pills a day. I take them in the evening. And one's a booster and the other one is... and that is what has really kept me alive. And through all these other medical issues that have come, you know I have crohn's disease, barrett's esophagus, cholesterol problems and all that. I take 38 pills a day but, you know what, it's kept me alive. It's kept me here and I credit that to that.
RS: How do you think your rodeo family has helped through your various health struggles?
PT: Oh, I mean, everybody's so supportive. Because this association is very unique, we don't do rodeo for a living. None of the contestants, you know, you can't, by the time you do all your expenses and everything else throughout the year, and especially if you have a horse, you go into it knowing you're gonna lose money. But, there's more to it than that. And that's why our rodeos and the umbrella IGRA association, all proceeds go back to charity. That's why we do this, to be able to give money back to charities.
RS: So, you said earlier that you know Wayne pretty well. What was it like working with him? I heard he was very enthusiastic about IGRA and Gay Rodeo in general. What was it like working for him?
PT: He was; and he pushed, and pushed, and pushed me. You know, 'cause he did. And we traveled together; went to rodeos together; and he gave me a lot of work, favors, and everything else so that I could go to these rodeos and all this other stuff. And he was just like a dad to me and it was very devastating when he passed away. He passed away of pancreatic cancer. And that was very difficult, once again for me, but his ideas and his creativity continues to live. He's very proud, I know he's very proud. I know when he died he was very proud that he had created this and watched it grow to where it had gone.
PT: And, you know, we've struggled in the last few years. We've struggled because financially it's difficult, it's becoming more and more difficult, to find sponsors because sponsors look at it as "butts in the seats." And we can have as many contestants as we want but it's [...] our rodeos are very recreational. None of our contests make a living off of 'em. They all have other jobs and do other things. So, it's very recreational but we do it because we give the money to charities and we feel good. And this camaraderie that you create, that you become a part of at the rodeos, it's indescribable. I found out when I had to take these last two years, take a break.
PT: I really found out how much it really is in me, and how much I missed it. And I really missed the contestants. Being here this weekend and being, I was a timer in the rodeo, and I couldn't, I can't, just sit in those stands and watch the rodeo. I got to be doing something. So I volunteered to go back behind the chutes, behind the alleyway, and help with the arena directors, with speed events, and pulling gates. It got me right back with the contestants. Because when I was a score keeper, you're isolated into a different spot so you don't get that. And I just, I miss that so much, because I became so close to the contestants while I was in the office. I just became so close to them and, you know, confided in them, they confided in me, and it really was a family. And I missed that when I went up into, as a scorekeeper, because I was isolated up there.
PT: I retired as a scorekeeper in 19, in, let's see, it would have had to have been about 2011 I retired. It was at the Florida rodeo, that was my last rodeo. They gave me a big old send off and everything else and I said, "Well, I'm not going away, I'm just retiring." And the reason I was retiring was because I had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and my writing was very difficult, and I did not want to subject a contestant to a wrong score because the secretary or the auditor couldn't read it.
PT: So I took that step but I found myself, I think 'cause I like so much being with the contestants, I found myself going to becoming barn manager. And this turned out to be just a total fluke. I had gone to the Oklahoma rodeo and I was supposed to be scorekeeper. And I came in a day early and I stayed with the rodeo director and then helped him set up. Well, he needed to go to a VIP party on the Thursday night and he didn't know how he was gonna be able to do it 'cause these contestants were starting to come in. And I said, "I'll do it. It can't be too difficult." You just check their papers, and give them a stall, and ask if they need shavings, and it's very simple. And that really brought me back with the contestants, really brought me back, and so it's something that I totally enjoy.
PT: And all this weekend people have said over, and over, and over, "We've missed you so much." It's kinda hard to grasp. I never realized that it really, people really did care, and do care. And so, it's been a wonderful, wonderful weekend. To be back into this. And I'm jumping right back into it. Of course, I'm not gonna be quite as involved as I really was before but I've submitted my name to be back on the finals committee. I just told them, I'll do anything on the committee - just don't make me rodeo director again. Been there, done that, and don't wanna go through that again 'cause it's not easy. It's a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure. And, you know, with our rodeos starting to struggle in 2000... probably about 2010 or '11... starting declining and everything else, it was becoming more and more difficult. Unfortunately, the rodeo that I was rodeo director of, finals wasn't as successful. It was really hard for me. It was really hard for me that it didn't, it wasn't, successful like I wanted it to be. But it was happening, and we're happening right now.
PT: And I tried, you know, I've served on various committees, probably almost every committee you could possibly think of. And I have been trying to preach that, with the difficulty of getting sponsors and everything else, we need to, rather than create new associations and then they jump in and do a rodeo first year, and they don't know what they're doing, and they don't know and don't realize, and they end up losing a lot of money. And, unfortunately, some have folded. I have really been trying to push, and I'm going to continue to push, that associations work together, come together, and be. We had four associations that were the GPR: Great Plains Rodeo. Four associations: Kansas, Oklahoma, Little Rock, and Missouri. And the rodeo rotated. It rotated to the different cities. And it worked. And that was at a time when the rodeos were successful, but it worked. Then they eventually went off and did their own rodeos. And that's what I'm trying to get back again because we have some little associations that are struggling, they are struggling to even stay alive, stay in business. And it's very disheartening when we lose one, so I'm gonna try to continue to try to push for the coming together. Not being, feeling like you wanna be independent, do your own thing. Because it's hard; it's not easy.
PT: And some rodeo budgets [...] our finals budget can run anywhere from 150 to 200 thousand dollars budget. And it's hard, it's very hard, 'cause see, what the contestants put in - at finals they have put in a percentage all year long towards the finals rodeo and then their fees for the finals rodeo itself and what's been participated - this all comes into the big pot and every single event no matter how many people [...] are in the event, the payout is the same for all 13 events equally. And then it's broken down as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. I've seen bronc riders, bull riders, that that's all they do. They are the only ones that cover, and they walk away. I've seen them walk away with 3,600 dollars just for two rides. And, so, it is a big thing but even then it's becoming more and more of a struggle. Like I said, we don't do this, there's no intention of being professionals. Some of our members are PRCA card holders because they do other professional events: roping events, barrel racing, you know those different things. But we... ours is recreational. And it's more, it's more than just the rodeo, it's the camaraderie, the chance to see friends, be together, spend a weekend together.
RS: So, with you getting started in 1988 were you, did you, experience the cancellation of the 1988 finals? When it was supposed to take place, I believe in Nevada, and then all of a sudden got canceled?
PT: I'm not quite sure that was 1988; I believe it was earlier than that. I would have to go back and look but, yeah.
RS: Did you experience any sort of homophobia on the circuit?
PT: Yeah, I mean, we did. PETA used to protest a lot of our rodeos. So, we had to deal with that, but they had their limits on where they could protest and we just did not let that affect us and, you know, not get to us. 'Cause we have very strong, how would you say, rules or guidelines for animal safety and we thrive on that because that it is so important to us. And part of, you know, the mission of IGRA and everything is for the country western lifestyle but [...] we don't tolerate abuse of animals.
RS: How do you think the culture has changed overarchingly in terms of homophobia?
PT: Oh, I think it's changed: it's become much easier. Gay marriage is becoming legal now and, more and more, it's changed a lot and it's a lot more comfortable. I've always said that with my brother, it was very difficult because that was during an era in the '70s that it was not accepted and you had to be very careful. And there was a lot of, you know, hate and everything going on. And you just really, you know, you really had to be careful and a lot of people remained in the closet or very isolated because they were so scared. And nowadays it's much more accepted and everything else.
PT: But the one thing about our rodeos, too, is that we have never, ever turned somebody down for their race, their sexual orientation, anything. We have straight people that compete in our rodeos, we have a couple of 'em this weekend that are competing, and we have always, with open arms, invited them in. And they, the first thing they say, after they've completed one day is, "This is unbelievable. Everybody is so wonderful and so nice." And they say it's a much nicer atmosphere. So we're really proud of that, you know, that we're able to bring that out into the community and open it up to anybody. And we do not discriminate.
PT: We're even working on trying to get kids now involved. The problem we have is the legal age and stuff like that so currently kids cannot, depending on what the legal age is in the state, cannot compete. But we're getting, we've gone, in a direction now where some of the associations, CGRA has done it, we have junior members. And they come to gymkhanas, they come to the other events that aren't sanctioned rodeos and everything, and then they come to the rodeos and watch their friends and/or family members compete. I mean, a lot of kids come that their parents are competing. It's really, it's a very gratifying, very satisfying, feeling and it also, you know, it's just become so much easier.
PT: And I've said, you know, I was so blessed to come out when I did. Not only did my brother pave the path with my family but [...] it was at a time where it was getting much better and it continued to get better all the way up to today. It's become much more acceptable. There were times, you know, in the early years that we were a little fearful. When we went into cities, we had to be very careful. We had to be very careful. We didn't allow people to go out by themselves; we had to be very careful because of the acceptance of being gay, lesbian, transgender. And so, it's come a long ways and I think it's continuing to become more and more acceptable. And I believe that's happening around the world too. Countries that never used to acknowledge women are now acknowledging women, gays are no longer being tortured and murdered for being gay, and so it's a good thing. It's good and I feel very proud to be a gay man living in the 21st century.
RS: Now, could you describe what you did as the administrative assistant for those 10 years? What did that job look like?
PT: I was a lot like the liason for the contestants. The contestants would call the office if they had a problem with the registration - they couldn't get registered, this, that, and everything else - they'd call. And I, that's the one thing I did do that has still continued [...], is I gained the respect of them. Because I listened to them and I helped them get better or get through the obstacles that they needed.
RS: And the physical office was in Charlie's?
PT: Yes. Yes, the initial, it started in 1991. Wayne created this position, it was another bartender that was at Charlie's and he started, Ricky Joe Newly, and he was the administrator for two years and then he got sick. So at the time he did, Wayne said, "Okay, here's your opportunity. Go." So I interviewed at the finals rodeo, no the Texas rodeo, in 1992, and started January 1st, 1993, for 10 years. And that was a wonderful, wonderful thing. If I were to ever get the opportunity to go back, I would do it in a heartbeat. And it would be because of the contestants.
RS: And were you mainly doing most of your work at that time via telephone and mail?
PT: A lot of it was mail, snail mail, and telephone. The internet was beginning and all that but a lot of it was snail mail and telephone.
RS: Did you ever get an email address?
PT: I did, I did actually, during my time and I still have it. I still have it. I have an account, it's but it's still one of my own personal accounts. So, yes I did. And then, when I was an administrative assistant, I had one: And then I had one, when I was trustee for Colorado, I had different emails. So I did. But I got to experience the beginning, the real beginnings, and the popularity of email and the much easier way of translation.
RS: And was that your full-time job, or were you doing that in addition to other things?
PT: It was a part-time job. It was, let me see, how many hours a week was it? It was probably about 30 hours a week. And then, and I worked in conjunction with working at Charlie's as a bartender, DJ, and all that. And my office was downstairs in the basement. So, sometimes I'd come in and work up until it was time for me to go upstairs and go to work that. But it gave an, and this is exactly what Wayne wanted, it gave an avenue for contestants to be able to go. When you couldn't necessarily go through your association because, for various reasons, you had an avenue to go that would help you. And, I believe today it still has gone on.
PT: And Tommy Channel, when he took over my position in 2003, and is currently in the position, a lot of things have changed. The office is no longer there; it's all done remote. You know, Tommy works out of his house and everything else but... he just received on Thursday, Thursday night, no, Friday night, last night, he received the Wayne Jakino Western Lifestyle buckle. And I've won various buckles across the years; my most favorite one is, of course, my Hall of Fame buckle. I wear that very proudly, but I wear other ones too. But, that's one I do not have yet and I hope someday before I die that I will get that, because Wayne paved the way for me. He pushed me into all this. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. And he was just like another dad to me. And it was just, it was so hard, you know. It's hard to describe, I mean, just how we bonded so well.
RS: Can I ask what the western lifestyle means to you?
PT: Western lifestyle, in my opinion, is the beginning of the West. You know, the beginning of cowboys and Indians, you know. That was the start, that was the beginning of the United States. And it could have even been the beginning in other countries, but it was really the United States where the western cowboys and Indians started. And at first they were fighting against each other, and then later on, you know, and now to this day, get along. And I don't know if you were there for grand entry today, when they blessed? That was very moving. That was unbelievable. I was just like, "Wow." Just to be there in that and face the different directions, and she would bless the directions. And they all had - you know, north, east, south, west - all had meanings. It was, it was quite the experience. I thought it was just amazing. I told the person that was in charge of getting that, "That was just amazing, it really was."
RS: So do you consider yourself a cowboy?
PT: Yes, I always have. I always have. I've always worn the jeans, the cowboy hat, everything else. And, ironically, I'm the only one in my family that does. Nobody else did. My father grew up on a farm in Iowa. He was basically on his own at 14. He had 10 siblings, actually he had 11 siblings initially and two of them died so then it was him and nine other siblings. There are two of them left. But he grew up there, you know, on the farm, so I attribute some of that to him being that way.
PT: My mom was pure city slicker. She was born in Salt Lake City, wasn't even there a few days and was in Colorado, so Colorado recognizes her as a... I am a third-generation native because they recognize her as a native 'cause she spent most of her life here in Colorado. So, yes, my family comes from Fairplay area. I have a lot of relatives that are buried up in, outside of, Fairplay, in Alma. And we, when we have a death, [...] we go as a family, we go up and spread the ashes at the same place where we've done all the others. And we've even marked a tree so that we know we have the same place. It's something that our family does that just, it's just what we do. And it means so much because it goes back to where our roots and where my great-grandfather was and grandmother.
RS: So did you leave Charlie's at the same time that you left the administrative position?
PT: No, no. I continued at Charlie's and worked there up until I left there in 2000. I met my partner at the time; we met by mutual friends in Puerto Vallarta and hit it off right away, dated for six months, and then I moved to Colorado Springs. 'Cause he had just taken over, him and his brother had just taken over, their father's business. A 30-year painting business. It was very reputable. They don't have to advertise because they have all these people from before that return, so it's quite the deal. So when my partner and I, Craig, talked about it, [...] I said, "You know what? I'll go. I'm ready to go." I'd been in the bar business 15 years and that was, it was enough. It was enough. And I just really wanted a relationship that I thought was going to be forever. Unfortunately it was not but... and part of it was my fault because I was so heavily involved in rodeo and travelling so much that my partner strayed, and therefore...
PT: But I left 2012, moved back to Denver, lived with my friends for a year, and then my Mom and I moved in together and I started taking care of her as she started getting, you know, progressing and getting older. And she's getting pretty frail. And probably we're gonna have to put her into a, some kind of, assisted living or nursing home in the next six to eight months because it's gotten to a point I can't... and she needs medical assistance. And so, once again, I'll be out on my own but I'm ready to do that and I'm ready to do a little bit different than what typically people do. I want to be, I worked up, I just left July 22nd, I worked up the Jefferson County fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado. I was the campground supervisor. It was a position that this director had created with, specifically with, me in mind running it. 'Cause he had seen what I had done when I was barn manager for CGRA rodeos, and he wanted that to happen, so he created the position. I was there for 15 months before I had to resign because I was having medical issues, and I just was worn out. [...]
PT: But during that time, I was, I had attained a trailer, a fifth wheel, a small fifth wheel, ' cause I stayed in it sometimes if we had events going over the weekends and, you know, it was gonna be the long hours and all that. So I had it, and with the help of two of my very dear friends, I was able to get that fifth wheel and did that. Well, during that time it convinced me, that's the way I wanna live, I wanna live. I was the campground supervisor and I just loved the people, the stories, oh my gosh. People from all over the country, even out of the country, you know, they come to camp and everything else. And hearing their stories... You know, it's becoming more and more people, and not just older people but younger people, are living full time in their RVs. And so, you know, of course, even though I left Jefferson County fairgrounds, I've been told I'm always welcome to come back. So, I definitely wanna be a camp host. Because I can do volunteer, not have to pay rent, because for volunteering it's in exchange. Then I can still do the rodeos. 'Cause I'm back. I told them today, I told a lot of them today, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going anywhere.
RS: So when you took the last two years off, was that really to sort of focus on your health?
PT: Partially. But partially I just needed a break 'cause I had gone non-stop and, you know, through losing a relationship, partially to my involvement with rodeos and commitment. Not that my commitment wasn't there, but it's difficult because I traveled a lot and so then he....
RS: And so he wasn't interested?
PT: No. Oh, no. I tried to get him interested once and boy, was that the wrong thing to do. He just didn't care for that. But in the beginning he supported me completely but then, I just got too involved. I didn't realize until it was too late, you know, how involved I was. And so, I took the two years just to get a break away from it, but also because I was working full time up at the park. Even though it was part time, it wasn't. I was working very much full time but only getting paid part time, which was okay with me because of my being on disability, I can only make so much a month. So it wasn't the money issue, it was the job. And I loved it, and I would go back in a heartbeat. I would go back to it, if offered that, but even if I don't, I'm welcome to come back as a camp host and do that. So, I'm looking forward to that. It's very unfortunate that we have to do what we have to do with our mom but it's part of it. So I kinda get my independence back, because it's been interesting.
RS: Its difficult.
PT: Yeah. I love my mother to death, but it's been tough.
RS: Do your other siblings help at all?
PT: My younger sister does; my older brother doesn't help too much, but it's mainly my sister and I.
RS: It's a lot of work.
PT: Yes. Yes. Can we take a little break?
RS: Yes, of course.
RS: Alright, we are back here with Patrick Terry and I was wondering if you would be willing to talk a little bit about the effort that went into building the amazing archive that you helped donate to the Autry National Center?
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PT: I, when I was a competitor, I always kept the programs. I kept them myself and everything else so I had accumulated boxes. Then when I went into the office, I was still competing but, you know, I was going and having access to and getting rodeo associations to send me their programs, advertising posters, everything. And I went into the office and I said, "You know what?" And it had been somewhat collected prior to that but it was mainly just thrown into a box, it was not organized or anything, and, you know, I'm a very organized person and probably a little overboard but I started arranging it. And then I thought, "You know what? This stuff is gonna come back. Someday it's gonna be important, someday it's going to be beneficial. I know it will. Maybe not while I'm alive, but I hope that people that continue on after me will continue to collect it.
PT: So I started collecting and putting it all together, organizing it, get it all in order by year, by rodeo. And started doing that when I went in the office, you know. Heavy contacting all the associations, telling them they had, whether I went to the rodeo or not I told them, that they had to send me the program, the advertising, their flyers, their posters. We used to do a poster mailout, CGRA used to do a poster mailout, to bars, organizations all across the country. And each association would submit their poster and we collected, we'd get them all, and then we'd put them all into tubes and mail them out, CGRA did. So that was going, so we had accumulated lots of posters. I'd accumulated quite a bit and, you know, I'd put 'em up on the top shelf thinking someday and everything else. But then I went full force getting as much as I could from the rodeos and/or events that the associations had put on. And it, it was fun. I loved it. And I knew that someday it would be.
PT: So, then through the relationship that we built with Gregory Hinton, he came to Charlie's and we were going to ship archives. Well, I wanted to retain some for IGRA, for the International. And so it was kinda interesting, when we met and we started going through it, Gregory wanted to take it all, and I wouldn't. And so, Brain Helander was the president at the time and he got kinda, became the referee for, you know, what we were doing. And he said, his words were, "Patrick is entitled to keep whatever he wants." Then whatever will go to the archives. And so Gregory wasn't too happy with me about that, but it worked out. So we went through all of it, all of it by year; I had it all in order by year. We went through every single one. If there were duplicates, I would keep one, one would go to them, or maybe two or three, because I was collecting about four to six programs from every rodeo and as much of the flyers and all that stuff. So I was doing all that, and so we went through all of it. It took three days, took us two days, three days.
RS: And where was it stored?
PT: It was at Charlie's, in the basement of the administrative IGRA office. And it was all there, in these big, heavy-duty shelves. And I had put them all into these large, really long, file boxes and had them all in order by year, by rodeo, blah, blah, blah. So I had them. So by the time Gregory and I finished going through, I kept what, I felt, IGRA should have. And then we sent the others and Tommy Channel and myself drove to Burbank, California, and [...] we had to actually get a special SUV, large SUV, a suburban, because of the weight. There were 22 of those boxes, full to the brim of programs, flyers, everything you could possibly think of IGRA.
PT: And so, when Gregory had approached us and said this opportunity was... it was the same time that Brokeback Mountain had just come out. And so the understanding we had was, it was gonna go on display right away. And when we arrived there, I had to sign off on there, meaning it was no longer our property but theirs. And it was difficult. I had a real difficult time signing that piece of paper. I hesitated, and hesitated, and said, "You know what, I don't know if I can do this." But then I kept thinking, for the future of people and studying, researching as yourself, and doing this, it will benefit. So, I finally signed the piece of paper. I have to this day, still, that piece of paper that I kept myself. I took a copy and put it in the archives but I kept the one I signed to myself and I know. So we dropped that off. So we were anticipating that it was gonna go on display fairly quickly. And I don't know if you've talked with Gregory in depth and everything else but at the time, the Brokeback Mountain, the two guys' shirts, had been donated. Some guy bought them and didn't know what to do with them but he had wanted to buy 'em. I think they said he paid 40 thousand dollars for them. So he donated them to the Autry with the understanding that they were going to be displayed immediately. And that's where we thought our archives were gonna go, in conjunction with that, and we're gonna be displayed.
PT: Unfortunately that didn't happen. It took a few years for them to archive it, and catalog it all, and everything else. And we had people from associations, if they were in the Burbank, California area, that they would go. But they never allowed, never anything was allowed, to leave the Autry. It was never allowed to leave the library. You checked it out but you could only do your research right there; you could not take it home with you. There was nothing to take. Unfortunately, the archives was never really fully displayed, but there was a, like a, ceremony and everything else and Mrs. Autry was there. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make the event but, you know, it was okay. Everybody knew that I had done this. And that was probably one of the biggest highlights of my entire time with IGRA. It was so gratifying, and just that whole idea that I knew, someday, somewhere, that it would come into play.
PT: And you know, people have researched, people have gone and researched. We did have some of ours on display for a while. I don't know that it still is but, you know. So it was a little disappointing that we anticipated it'd go farther than it did but, the fact is, it's all cataloged, it's all there at the Autry museum, and Mrs. Autry was so... she could not get over, she said, "I have never seen any organization that kept so many things, you know, and archived them." [...] So, she congratulated me on doing that and sent it through people, you know, and so they told me. And that, to me, was the top of it. Here was all that, it had come to fold and had come. It was now going to be put to use, rather than sitting in the boxes in the closet down at the office at Charlie's, in the basement. It had its purpose, but yet we still had ours.
RS: So, one thing that really struck me going through the archives was that a lot of people, when they do archive rodeo things, they do flyers, and they do programs, but they don't do filing of complaints, or they don't keep stock contractor agreements. They don't keep that sort of business side and I'm wondering how you decided which of those sort of, those business-end of things, to keep in the archive?
PT: Well, I mean, it was more of the how International Gay Rodeo Association board felt about it. Whether or not they wanted that released because of people at the times, you know, it was just starting to get better, but people's names and everything else were associated and they wanted to remain anonymous. So we were, we had an obligation, to our members to keep that quite, keep that as quiet as possible. So, therefore, it was difficult to pass on that stuff. We kept all of it and still have it and it's currently being stored up in a semi-trailer that we share with the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, the International does, in storing in this big semi-trailer.
RS: And for the pieces you've kept, that's really helped Frank Harrell construct his online archive.
PT: Correct. He took it to yet another level. A level that I never even envisioned would happen, and it's just been absolutely wonderful and it's made, it's brought Tom and Frank and myself so close, we are so close, it's amazing. Because he continued making my dream come true and making it happen. So, we still have a lot of the paperwork and everything else, but, you know, that basic stuff that I kept when Greg and I went through it, went over to Tom and Frank. And from there, Tom and Frank, or Frank and I helped some, we put together, started cataloging ourselves and putting it so that we could put it on our website so people could see this. And if you go onto our website, you go in there, you can pull up, by rodeo, by year, if we have the program and we have almost all of them there. We've gotten down to, I think, in the 20s. It might even be lower than 20s. Now, as far as programs, people have discovered, and have come forward, and have given. So that's all been done and that just was, to me was, it was my dream come true. That I knew someday, somehow, this would be important.
PT: And with technology where it's gone and everything else, we don't do posters very much anymore. Flyers, all that, it's all electronic, but we still have the programs. Not always do the associations elect to do a program. But we still, if they do, we still collect it and Frank archives it and keeps it on the website. And it's a very, very interesting portion of the website to go to. You can get a lot of information, a lot of stuff that I learned over the years that I didn't even know occured. And finding out more and more, and I'm still finding out more and more, about gay rodeo that existed before CGRA or IGRA were created. That was going on. And then being thrown out of Reno, Nevada, for our finals rodeo and not being able to have that take place after contestants were up there and ready to go and everything. It was very difficult, but we managed to make that event and/or time still be part of gay rodeo. And, you know, all around, that year that they couldn't have the finals rodeo they gave- at that time there were 2 divisions- and they gave the persons that had the total points, both men and women in division 1, division 2, their buckles as All Around buckles because the buckles had been ordered, everything was in place, but then they couldn't have the rodeo. So did that.
PT: That's why, if you look at spreadsheets that I've also done for years, and years, and years, and I still do. And I send the updated information to the announcers for the rodeos just, you know, all the people that won, how many they've won by year, everything else. And it took a long time to put that together, I mean, I had to do a lot of researching and look, and looking up stuff myself, but people love it. They love that information and, it once again, makes me feel so proud to be a part of this and do this. And, I'm still doing it. Even though these last two years I took off, I still updated the information and everything else. And there's a big spreadsheet that has all the women, all the men, that have ever won, all around at any rodeo and/or finals. But what's interesting, this year is actually the 31st... World Gay Rodeo Finals but, the one year we awarded two all arounds, both men and women, that screws it up to make it one more. So there's 32 years because I felt it still needed to be recorded and was important.
PT: And we've been working on, we just celebrated, the 500th rodeo, or 500th gay rodeo event. I have to be careful I say it to make sure I get it all in. It wasn't just rodeos, but it was other events that have taken place. I tried to keep on top of it as much as possible but then when I left from the office it was more difficult for me to keep that updated and everything else. So then, another gentlemen in the last two years came forward, Rodger Bergman, and he went through everything and all that. Now him and I still have a little bit of disagreement on which actually is the 500th rodeo but, you know, it's there. It's there, it's just a matter of when. But it was decided by the board of directors and everything else that the 500th rodeo was the Bay Area rodeo outside of San Francisco, up in the Russian River this year.
RS: And were you able to make that one?
PT: No, I didn't. I wasn't able to make that one. This is my first rodeo besides Denver's rodeo that I've gotten back into and so....
RS: So, as a at-home-archivist, is there, like one poster, or program, something that you think of as your just favorite thing?
PT: You know, I try, I really do, but just when I think I have it, I look at another one and it's.... It's so hard for me because it brings back, for me, so many memories, people I have met. One of our biggest all around cowboys ever was featured on the front page, I mean on the cover, of the program the year of the finals after he had past away. And that one was my favorite for so long, because I was such good friends with that gentlemen and...
RS: Can I ask who it was?
PT: Greg Olsen, Greg Olsen. And, I went to his memorial service and everything. But it was my favorite and then others started coming up and, you know, as electronic and everything else evolved, things become fancier, you know, and everything else. So it's very difficult for me to really pinpoint one thing because I can give an excuse or a give an answer to every single one of them. *laughs* So it's hard for me, personally, to figure out.
RS: Well, is there anything I haven't asked you about that you want to cover?
PT: Not really. I mean, I just, you know, the fact that it meant so much to me, and doing that project was so gratifying, and I have been recognized so many years by the International for that. That was part of my getting into the Hall of Fame. I'm a lifetime member with CGRA. So if, it's that whole process. My involvement with IGRA, or with CGRA and IGRA, is part of archives and part of the memories that go back. I share many, many memories. I can't even tell you how many rodeos I've gone to because there's, I can't even remember some of them, because I went to so many. But its not, numbers are not important to me, it's the fact that the history of IGRA, the International, and the archiving, that means more to me because it's beneficial, it'll be beneficial down the road in years to come.
RS: What do you think it means to young gay people to have their history documented that way?
PT: I don't know that they really understand archiving; I don't think they really realize it. I know I really didn't until I was older. I was 30 before I came out and so, for me, I was more mature and everything. The young kids, I don't think they really understand archiving and the importance and everything else. They think it just happens, museums just happen, this stuff happens[...] So I would say most people, most of our young folks, don't collect like, like I did, and like a few others.
PT: There's another gentlemen that, honest to god, his place in Arizona - his name is Dan Iverson - he has collected. And I mean, he has two trailers full of it, to the door. Full of programs and stuff like that. He's got an entire, practically an entire, basement full of it and everything else. And he's very protective of it, he doesn't like to give it up. I had to beg on some of 'em to give, to make it so that we had our archives. And I was never, I've never been able to go down there and spend enough time to go through all of it. 'Cause I'm sure if I did, with all of it that he has collected over the years and everything... 'Cause he was one right in the early years and he was actually Greg Olsen's partner in events, in the camp events, for years. And they were very identifiable, they wore shirts with polka dots on them, and they were both the same [...].
PT: But, yeah, he saved his stuff and everything else. But every time I've gone to his house and I see something and he's like, "Umm...." And I'm like, "Please, can I have just one? I'm sure you've got another one." Just so that we can make our's complete. And he's good, he's really good about it. But I've never gotten the opportunity to go down there and actually go through everything and I really should before, you know, too late. You know, or something happens, maybe to them. I don't know how long he's gonna keep those trailers full that sit on his property. And all these archives, these just, filing cabinet, after filing cabinet, after filing cabinet in the basement in his house full of all this stuff. And, like I said, I think we could pretty much complete it but it would take a lot of time to go through all that stuff to find... because he wasn't necessarily organized in filling it like I was. He, it's all, kind of thrown together. So it could be various years, could be intermixed, and stuff like that. Maybe someday... maybe someday I can get down there and do it. But I think what we have put together - and I say we because Frank, and Tom, and Brian Rodgers, and people that have served on the committee - have spent a lot of time doing this, but it's all for the good of the organization and to get out and really show what we are.
RS: Well, thank you so much for your time.
PT: Absolutely. If you have any other questions, I mean, feel free to contact me; you have my number.
RS: Wonderful.