Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Group protests outside gay rodeo fundraiser


Andrew Zollman, left, Cynthia Ashley and Julie Dunn of LGBT Compassion handed out fliers urging patrons not to attend a gay rodeo benefit. (Photo: David Duran)
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An animal rights group that believes rodeo events are cruel to animals staged a protest outside a South of Market gay bar last weekend as it held a fundraiser for the gay rodeo.

Animal rights group LGBT Compassion held the March 31 protest. Outside the Powerhouse bar on Folsom Street, organizer Andrew Zollman and seven others handed out informational fliers and held protest signs as patrons entered and exited the bar. The group wanted people to know that their cover charge was directly supporting the rodeo, and in their opinion, animal cruelty.

Julie Dunn of San Francisco has been involved with trying to end animal cruelty for three years.

"I can't sleep well at night thinking of the ways animals are treated," said Dunn. "For me, it started with factory farming and then I realized it extends into so many other factors like rodeo."

Cynthia Ashley was another protester who was there.

"Rodeos are a nightmare for animals and to get entertainment at the expense of creatures that are sensitive is unfathomable to me," she said.

A few patrons decided not to enter the bar after hearing their plea.

"I never thought about the treatment of the animals when I thought of coming to this event tonight, I was just wanting to come to support the community," said David Burns, who decided to go elsewhere.

Zollman believes that people are unaware that cruel methods are used to force the animals to perform.

"We want to inform the community of the cruelty involved in rodeo, and illustrate the parallels between the bullying, abuse and oppression of minorities such as LGBTs, and animals (who cannot speak for themselves)," said Zollman. 

In recent years, many rodeo practices have been changed. For instance, spurs that are used to enhance performance are not allowed to be sharp, flank straps that are cinched around the abdomens to force animals to buck are supposed to be fleece-lined, and break away ropes are required for calf roping on horseback.

Though animal rights advocates appreciate these modifications, they have not dissuaded LGBT Compassion and its supporters.

"The events are inherently cruel and frivolous, forcing frightened and unwilling animals to perform while at risk of injury and death, through bullying, intimidation, and physical force for money and entertainment," said Zollman.

The Bay Area chapter of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association declined to speak with the Bay Area Reporter .

"We have asked them to defend their actions toward the animals, and they have no good answers except the standard claims that rodeo is not cruel, and that we are simply ill-informed or extremists," said Zollman.

The group has urged the GSGRA to turn the rodeo into a country-western themed event with everything except the animals. The group's ultimate goal is to see the use of animals in the rodeo stop. "If someone wants to enjoy being around farm animals, I suggest they visit one of the local farm animal rescues or sanctuaries," said Zollman.

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