Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Gay Rodeo?

I used to love to watch "Big Brother," but a year or two ago it lost its appeal. This week, though, I watched a half-hour of this season's premiere.

It has the usual assortment of young, attractive, white people. (Ok, plus two older people and two African-Americans.) And no reality show would be complete without the obligatory gay person. I was surprised to discover that this year's is a rodeo cowboy. The combination seemed odd.

I wasn't surprised, though, that a rodeo fanatic was among this season's cast. A few months ago someone had posted a casting call of sorts on a veggie board I frequent. "Big Brother" was looking for an animal-rights activist to join the house. Who's the AR activist they found? Who's going to go toe to toe with Mr. Rodeo? A woman who proudly announced she works at Hooters -- and who doesn't eat red meat. Not exactly an animal-rights activist.

So Mr. Rodeo won't have much to worry about. He hasn't come out to the house yet, but that shouldn't take long. When I saw him on TV, I thought it was ironic that he was gay and a rodeo participant. I figured heterosexual cattle ropers wouldn't take kindly to gay people. And I may be right. What I didn't know, though, is that gay rodeo riders have their own organizations. There's the International Gay Rodeo Association, the Texas Gay Rodeo Association ... . Heck, even Illinois has a group.

What surprises me even more, though, is that gay people would exploit and harm animals. I realize I can't lump people together, but it seems that gay people would be more aware of and more sensitive to the plight of others. I feel the same way about women and African-Americans. As I said in a previous post, if one group is oppressed, then we're all oppressed. Gay people don't have the same rights as straight people in this country, and that's wrong. Yet these rodeo participants are treating animals like some people treat gays: as lesser beings.

Visit SHARK to learn more about rodeos and to see undercover video.

(Photo courtesy of SHARK.)

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