by Jessica Carreras
There are many LGBT sporting groups in existence, but none quite like gay rodeo. Mel Enness, a 42-yaer-old Lansing resident, is president of the Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association, which holds fundraisers and events throughout the year and donates profits to different charities each year. For five years, Enness has been roping cattle, riding bulls and enjoying being part of an elite and fun-loving group of LGBT cowboys and cowgirls.
How did you get involved with the Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association?
Back in 2004, I was approached about attending the rodeo that was coming up and after getting to the rodeo, I was asked about participating in Goat Dressing – an event that is only at LGBT Rodeos. After participating in Goat Dressing, I was hooked. Now when I attend a rodeo, I can usually be found around the chutes. The chutes are where we load the bulls, broncos and steers for bull riding, bronco riding and steer riding, plus steer decorating and wild drag .
MIGRA grew very quickly once it began. Why do you think it’s so popular?
There is a lot of interest in cowboys, cowgirls and the ‘old west’ lifestyle, not to mention there is a lot of interest in the different types of country and western dancing. As for MIGRA growing so quickly, the founding fathers of MIGRA had an inspiration of bringing the gay rodeo to Michigan and the Great Lakes area, and when MIGRA was formed, not only did it include all of Michigan, it included northwest Ohio, and the Windsor and Toronto areas.
What’s the best thing about being an LGBT cowboy (or girl)?
The best thing about being a LGBT cowboy or cowgirl is the fact you can travel all over the country to meet members of other rodeo associations and do rodeos, whether you are competing in a rodeo, working on one of the crews or just being a spectator at one.
Which charities is MIGRA focusing on in 2009?
MIGRA’s charities this year are diabetes and leukemia, as the Royalty Team are the ones that choose them. They chose the American Diabetes Association because we have members that are affected by diabetes and leukimia, we have not decided which specific charity at this time, but we have a member who has leukimia.
Why are LGBT sporting groups important to the community overall?
LGBT sporting groups are important to the community as they help bring people together not just locally but from all over the world. When MIGRA had the rodeo back in 2004, we had contestants from Canada, and at some of the rodeos over the years, there were people from Europe. We have had people from Australia also interested in gay rodeo.
For more information, visit http://www.michiganrodeo.org.