Thursday, January 31, 2008

Butch Women and Open Space at City Hall

The San Francisco Art Commission is sponsoring another art show in City Hall's basement by photographer Ann P. Meredith with the expansive title of "Tall in the Saddle: Cowgirls, Ranch Women and Rodeo Gals." The show reminded me of going to the first local gay rodeo in Hayward during the mid-1980s, which was a fascinating affair on all kinds of levels.

I was attempting to write an article for a gay newspaper which was trying to compete with B.A.R. called "The Sentinel," and the material was amazing. Most of the contestants were from the rural West, had grown up on ranches, and for the most part found the urban gay scene completely flabbergasting. The rodeo was a chance for them to get together for the first time (outside of the military).

The first gay rodeo was held in Reno in 1976, and the winner of the bull-riding competition was one of the people I interviewed on the bus to Hayward in the 1980s. She was a butch old dyke who had grown up on a ranch in Montana but wasn't allowed to compete in rodeos because they were only for guys, with the exception of one event, calf-roping I believe. She didn't care, and ended up doing whatever she wanted as she grew up, which included a stint as Debbie Reynold's stuntwoman on "How The West Was Won." When the 1976 Reno event came around, she was the only female entrant in the bull-riding competition, and they canceled the event, so she insisted that she be allowed to compete in the men's division, where she ended up winning.

There was a wonderful woman photographer who was taking pictures for the Bay Area Reporter newspaper, and we tried to join forces, but the owners of the gay rags were having none of it, and The Sentinel hacked my story to nothing and the B.A.R. only printed one of her great photos. This is unfortunately still how professional journalism works, by the way.

Upstairs, there was a meeting of the Mayor's Open Space Task Force in one of the Light Courts.

Since I don't believe a single word that comes out of the Gavin Newsom administration anymore, I'm sure the meeting was nothing but well-intentioned crap that he can use for his press releases.

Meanwhile, one of San Francisco's premier gangsters, Donald Fisher, is proposing to build a monstrous museum housing his modern art collection smack dab in one of the finest "open spaces" left in San Francisco, the Presidio, but I don't hear a peep out of this administration about what a disgrace it is.


namastenancy said...

I've suggested to one of my friends that we put out an omnerata (sp) - anyway, some sort of Italian curse and vendetta on Fisher. I am an artist but every time I read about the new eyesore (and you know it will be built), I want to scream and shout. Most of the artists are overpriced and overrated. I loved your story about the dike cowgirls. When I was a Navy brat, we have a contingent of Waves on one of the bases where my dad was stationed. I adored them and I think my parents were quite concerned. Anyway, they sent me off to boarding school where I proceeded to get in trouble with boys.
I should have stuck with the girls.

Matty Boy said...

Great pics and stories from the Wild West, mike. Glad they could be given some of the circulation they deserve despite journalistic turf battles.

sfwillie said...

btw: I think the one event for girls is/was the "barrel race," where they do the tight turns around three barrels. Totally stupid.

Golda Meir--there was a butch woman Hillary could emulate.