Photo Essay: Gabriela Hasbun Photographs the Gay Rodeo

Gay rodeo is like regular rodeo except more fun.

Gay Rodeo Photos by Gabriela Hasbun
Photos by Gabriela Hasbun

Can you give us a quick explanation of gay rodeo?
It’s like regular rodeo except more fun. Instead of the roping competition they have a humane version called “goat dressing” where the cowboy dresses the goat with a pair of panties.


How did you come across it? Zana Woods, the previous photo director at Wired, took me in 2006 or 2007 to the Bill Pickett invitational rodeo in Hayward, California, where people from all over the country traveled to compete. After that I started documenting the Silver Buckle Rodeo that happens in Taylorsville, California, each 4th of July near my husband’s hometown. Then a friend suggested I check out the gay rodeo in the Bay Area. So I went to the Best Buck in the Bay in La Honda with a seamless and strobe lights and set up a little photo booth behind the bleachers. Everyone was gregarious and friendly. It was easy to find subjects. And then I started looking them up, and it turns out they’re all over the Bay Area during summer and early fall.


What interested you most about your subjects? Always their personalities. I feel like I really get to know people even in a short amount of time.  Not sure if it’s the camera or me.


How do you get such animated responses? I tend to not give a lot of direction. I let people do their thing.


Do some of the riders take it more seriously than others? You have to be a serious rider to participate in this sport. Horses can be deadly.



Any idea what your next project will be? I’m starting a new series celebrating transgender families. Photo Essay: Gabriela Hasbun Photographs the Gay Rodeo