Back in the saddle

BTL Staff
By | 2009-07-23T09:00:00-04:00 July 23rd, 2009|News|

Under the radar for the better part of five years, the Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association has reorganized and is refreshed and ready to get back to work.
The group’s first order of long term business: begin planning the Greater Motown International Rodeo, slated for June 25-27, 2010, at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. “We’ve been going through some restructuring and regrouping,” said MIGRA President Leroy Aune, “because we’re the type of organization that puts its best foot forward and we don’t believe in doing things halfway.”
It takes a lot of careful planning to put on a rodeo, Aune said, which is why the group hasn’t hosted one since 2004.
Poor communication and sloppy planning have been major contributors to the group’s degeneration and near disappearance in the past few years. “Before, there were too many chiefs and not enough indians and everyone was just doing their own thing,” Aune said. “Now that changed to, everyone has their own specific job (and) purpose that they do.”
Aune, who has been a member of MIGRA since 2007, became president four months ago after a board member left the position for personal reasons. “It’s been fast and furious since Leroy started as president,” said Rob Silversides, MIGRA trustee chair and Greater Motown International Rodeo sponsorship chair. “You know, the communication between the members that are active and want to be active is amazing. It’s something I’ve never seen before.”
While the structure of the organization has been significantly modified, there are still those things that will never change. MIGRA still is working toward the same goals: to make a difference in other people’s lives one step at a time through the rodeo country western lifestyle.
It’s still true that members don’t need to own a horse or live outside a city to call themselves a cowboy.
And bar events still are routine social gatherings. Only now, dress code is no longer limited to just cowboy hats and boots. These parties have themes, games and prizes. “We’ve held Mardi Gras parties before that we never had done in the past until two, three years ago. We’ve also held whipped cream auctions and bar rodeos, in which you do the events basically without a horse and with a tricycle,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of gift baskets and raffles, which in our early days, we were really unable to do.”
Community outreach events – such as spaghetti dinners, dance competitions and car washes – have given MIGRA the opportunity to recruit more members and collaborate with other Detroit-based LGBT groups, including Motor City Bears, the Triangle Foundation and Affirmations.
Last year’s first Brokeback Camp Out proved to be especially popular. “Obviously, you can’t camp in a bar,” Aune said with a laugh. “We held it last year and the turnout was phenomenal. I’ve gotten tons of e-mails and calls asking when the date is going to be this year for this event.”
And here it is.
This year’s Brokeback Camp Out will take place July 17-19 at Pleasant Lake in Jackson County. The two-night, three-day event includes camping, bon fires, horseback riding, a barbecue dinner, hayrides and family friendly games and events. Some MIGRA members will also be teaching lessons on the proper way to throw a lasso and how to line dance.
Cost of admission is $25 per single person, $35 per couple, $70 for a family of four and $15 for single daytime pass. All are invited to bring RVs, tents and pop-up campers. The event is open to the public.
For a full schedule of MIGRA events or more information about the organization, visit

Brokeback Camp Out
July 17-19
Pleasant Lake, Mich.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.