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Luke Gilford: National Anthem: America’s Queer Rodeo
Text by Luke Gilford, Janet Mock, Matthew Riemer & Leighton Brown, Drew Sawyer, Mary L. Gray.
A unique document of America’s gay rodeo subculture, National Anthem is a celebration of outsiders and the beauty of chosen families everywhere
Growing up in Colorado with his father in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, filmmaker and photographer Luke Gilford spent his formative years around the rodeo, an American institution that has often been associated with conservatism and homophobia. It was only later, when he discovered the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), that he began to see himself as part of a rodeo family. The IGRA is the organizing body for the LGBTQ+ cowboy and cowgirl communities in North America—a safe space for all races and gender expressions.
The queer rodeo brings in participants from rural regions all over America for structured educational programs and competitions, facilitating opportunities to hone athletic skills, connection and care for animals, personal integrity, self-confidence and support for one another. Gilford has spent over three years traveling the country to document this diverse and ever-evolving subculture.
Shot on medium-format film and printed in a traditional darkroom, the work is detailed and rich with emotion and color. The resulting photographs are both personal and poetic—clear testaments to Gilford's intimate relationship to the community.
Featured image is reproduced from 'Luke Gilford: National Anthem: America’s Queer Rodeo.'
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
One of the great fashion portraitists of the new vanguard, Luke Gilford returns to his roots and looks to the great American rodeos of the West, focusing on the International Gay Rodeo Association. National Anthem: America’s Queer Rodeo is rich with Gilford’s tenderness for his subjects while imploring us to rethink the hegemony of the American cowboy.
A series of tender portraits celebrating and documenting the [International Gay Rodeo Association] in all its glory. Here, Gilford shares his celebration of the space where queer country folk cultivate a powerful sense of community, creativity, and pride
Dale Berning Sawa
A timely musing on the state of America.
It's Nice That
After discovering how homophobic American rodeos can be, the book... is a personal quest to break down these longstanding tribal dichotomies.
The International Gay Rodeo Association is the little-known organising body for the LGBTQI+ cowboy and cowgirl communities in North America. Based out of rural Colorado, it arranges educational programmes and competitions and teaches athletic skills, care for animals and self-confidence to the community. Photographer Luke Gilford, himself the son of a professional bull rider, spent three years documenting the scene. The resulting book is a glorious, poetic celebration of this singular subculture.
National Anthem is also a rejoinder to it, an unapologetically proud confrontation of a culture that has long clung to rigid archetypes of masculinity, race, and sexuality. Ultimately, as Gilford is himself quick to point out, National Anthem isn’t about undoing the myth of the American cowboy as much as recognizing that such a myth has more than one version to be told.
Luke Gilford has become one of my generation’s instantly recognizable photographers for his portraits of the contrarian and marginalized, whose cultural influence is often magnified by his lens. In these richly personal pages, the Colorado-born photographer explores his almost paradoxical love of the American West and queer culture. (Its forebear is another personal fave, the spectacular multi-hyphenate Lisa Eisner’s Rodeo Girls.)
[Gilford's] return to the rodeo resulted in four years of traveling throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California to document rural queer life—and the radical acceptance and community he discovered within the International Gay Rodeo Association. His queer rodeo images have now culminated in [a] stunning first monograph, National Anthem... The book, which is comprised of dozens of images, as well as poignant essays, renders queer resilience, survival, and joy.
If you're in an escapist mood, we highly recommend Luke Gilford's new book, National Anthem: America's Queer Rodeo — a delightful exploration of rural America. Gilford grew up going to rodeos with his father. As he grew older, Gilford became more aware of just how anti-LGBTQ mainstream rodeo and rural America could be. Gilford, who is queer, first participated in and then turned his camera on the subculture of the International Gay Rodeo Association over the last four years. This book is as much a celebration of queer culture as it is America, and it's a lovely way to look at the classic American sport.
Forever a Rodeo boy, raised by his father in Colorado, Photographer and Filmmaker Luke Gilford attended events sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Connecting with the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), Gilford is drawn to IGRA’s commitment to creating safe spaces for discussions on race and gender preferences for the LGBTQ+ Community. Seeing the brave and confident attendees at IGRA events Gilford began his three year journey meeting new people and documenting the emerging subculture.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.