By Joel Dryden
CALGARY — Director Matt Livadary remembers attending his first rodeo with his father at a very young age as being eye-opening – an introduction to a whole new culture and world.
So when tasked by his production company to come up with a new scripted series, he decided to go on a research trip across America to reacquaint himself with rodeo.
“I re-fell in love with rodeo. Of course, it’s very conservative. The rodeo clowns made fun of me for wearing khakis,” Livadary said.
At one particular rodeo that was comparatively liberal, Livadary noticed a lesbian couple watching the action. He approached them and asked for their story, and they said this particular rodeo was the only one they felt comfortable at – aside, of course, from gay rodeos.
Livadary immediately knew he wanted to know more. He left his job at his production company and decided to follow the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) for one year. Livadary said the IGRA provides a place for LGBTQ athletes to participate in a sport that still has a way to go when it comes to these issues.
“There’s no way in the traditional circuit for people to be out. I think rodeo is the last bastion of male superiority and heterosexuality,” he said. “What the gay rodeo offers is a family for a lot of people who don’t think they’ve had a family.”
Queens and Cowboys follows four characters as they compete in the IGRA, hoping to qualify for finals. Livadary said that despite the family atmosphere of the gay rodeo and positive atmosphere at the events, homophobia is still alive and well in America.
“A man at an event approached me and said, ‘I heard you’re straight and I don’t want you to film me. I’m a teacher in a rural Texas town and I’m not out at the moment. You are threatening me with your camera,’” Livadary recalled. “So I had to exercise a lot of caution of not outing people.”
Queens and Cowboys will premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival in September, and Livadary hopes that Calgarians will embrace the film.
“I’m so excited to be showing in Calgary,” he said. “Of course, it’s a rodeo town that may not always know about gay rodeo. So it will be interesting to see how they react.”
Queens and Cowboys showcases at Eau Claire Sept. 21, noon, and at the Globe Cinema Sept. 23, 7 p.m. For more information on the film, visit www.queensandcowboys.com.AB, Alberta, Calgary International Film Festival 2014, CIFF 2014, gay rodeo, International Gay Rodeo Association, LGBT, Matt Livadary, Queens and Cowboys, queer cinema