Phoenix/ Fun & Entertainment
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Published on February 21, 2024
Arizona's Fusion of Festivity and Activism as Gay Rodeo Celebrates With a Purpose, Rallying for Abortion Rights Ballot MeasureSource: Facebook/Arizona Gay Rodeo Association

The Arizona Gay Rodeo was not just a typical display of cowboy bravery and rough riding this past weekend. The 38th annual event, held at the Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds in Laveen, was a spectacle that combined traditional rodeo pursuits with a flamboyant twist. Ditching the usual rodeo paradigm, organizers spiced up the proceedings with steer decorating, wild drag race, and even goat dressing competitions—putting a distinct spin on the western festivities, as reported by the Phoenix New Times.

While cowboys and drag queens added a splash of color to the Arizona landscape, a serious undercurrent ran through the event as well. Signature collectors made the rounds among the cowboy hats and haircuts, rallying support for an imminent ballot measure regarding abortion access. If successful, the measure would protect the right to abortion in the Arizona constitution—a response to a nation grappling with the post-Roe legal landscape.

Turning gears to a more sober topic, Planned Parenthood Arizona staffers at Brick Road Coffee were busy this weekend, seeking to cement abortion rights in the state. Volunteers convened at the LGBTQ-owned business intent on enshrining a "fundamental right" for Arizonans. The Arizona Abortion Access Act aims to ensure the provision of abortions before fetal viability, and in cases necessary for a pregnant person’s health post-viability. In a statement acquired by the Phoenix New Times, Gabe Hagen, the coffee shop co-owner, highlighted the urgent need to safeguard abortion rights in these challenging times.

The path to the ballot is steep—organizers require about 384,000 valid signatures from registered Arizona voters, a target they hope to overshoot considerably. Molly Gutterud, senior director at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, shared with the Phoenix New Times that the combined effort of five organizations has amassed more than a quarter of a million signatures since September. Their goal is to double the required amount, hoping to collect 800,000 in total, to send an unmistakable message of determination and solidarity.