The Georgia Gay Rodeo Association is in trouble—again.
The gay rodeo group, which enjoyed a resurgence this year after nearly closing down, is again on the brink of closing its doors. GGRA’s president, Brad Bruner, emailed supporters earlier this month with a plea for alternatives, but cited a lack of new members, few candidates for the board and a leadership group of only a handful of people in raising the possibility that the group might disband.
Time after time, the number of people actively planning and executing each initiative could be counted on one hand. Event after event, the same few people showed up. We have signed up new members, but most of you havenʼt been able to make it to subsequent events. It feels like we are paddling furiously upstream against a swift current, and weʼre losing our remaining energy. In talking with other gay groups, it sounds like most of them are suffering participation problems to some degree or another.
Bruner wondered in the email if rodeo is falling out of favor with gay men and lesbians or if the economic downturn is also playing a roll. In September, GGRA said it was passing on returning its Southern Spurs Rodeo to the Conyers facility that last hosted it in 2005. But Bruner kept open the possibility that the event would still be held somewhere else next October.
In our case, though, our participation problems are extreme. What could be the reason? Perhaps rodeo is just out-of-style with the larger LGBT community, perhaps the organization doesnʼt serve the same purposes of bringing folks together that it used to before every person got a computer and internet access, or perhaps various other reasons. Further, in this economic downturn, sponsorships and charitable giving to organizations like ours are also down. Thus, it seems increasingly unrealistic that we would be able to produce a Southern Spurs rodeo in the near future from either a financial or a participatory point of view. The end result simply doesnʼt bode well for GGRA.
The group has been rebounding since suffering organizational fatigue last year, with a new slate of officers taking over last January and adding new members and activities to its calendar. But it sounded a similar alarm about disbanding in November 2007, citing organizational fatigue.
I hate to sound the same alarm here that was broadcast in 2007, but after having tried to revive the organization in 2008, I am not sure there is enough member interest to merit keeping it alive, even if the organization could flounder along in some semi-hibernation for the next couple of years, bleeding money all the while. At the moment, GGRA has several thousand dollars in the bank, but our accounts are declining rather than increasing. Since we are a charitable organization, I wonder if we should stand by hoping for a miracle while we hemorrhage money that could be donated to our charities. That money should not be wasted but rather be donated in keeping with our charitable mission.