Stock show apologizes for gay jokes, Brokeback Mountain banter at Saturday rodeo

Update: The spokeswoman for the stock show has responded to our post and acknowledged that mistakes were made. See her comments below our original item.

I was sitting in the stands of the rodeo at the National Western Stock Show on Saturday night, watching men wrestle steer to the ground, when the announcer mentioned Brokeback Mountain. He and the bullfighter/rodeo clown had been bantering all night.

Your favorite cowboy movie is Brokeback Mountain, one said.

You were the stunt double for the sex scenes, the other shot back.

The lines were clearly meant as put-downs, though many in the audience -- which included kids and families -- laughed.

Later, when the guy in charge of music played a clip of "Tiny Dancer," the announcer struck again. "I bet you have a lot of Elton John on your iPod," he teased the bullfighter. "So?" the bullfighter said in a mockingly defensive tone of voice.

The two spent the rest of the evening making jokes about Lady Gaga, the bullfighter's balls and how he sucked at picking up women. The bullfighter spent much of the night straddling the fence surrounding the ring, asking a woman in the audience to marry him.

I found much of it offensive, especially the jabs about cowboys in love. And while the homophobia may not have been overt -- no one said, "Gay people are gross!" -- furtive homophobia is still homophobia. And it's apparently welcome at the rodeo.

We put in a call to the rodeo's spokeswoman. We'll update this blog when we hear back.

Update: Spokeswoman Bonnie Blitz wrote us this e-mail this morning.

After reviewing the tape of the event, we understand how some of the comments made during a rodeo comedy routine might have been offensive. As such, we have taken internal measures to address the situation. Both employees involved have apologized for their remarks during their comedy act and have removed this from all future shows.

For more about the Stock Show, check out our "People of the Rodeo" slideshow.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar