Out in the Valley
Produced by J. Greenberg

 

D. L. Shields is a true man of the west. He's been competing in rodeos since the age of 15, but little did he know that one day he'd be directing a rodeo himself: the Sierra Stampede -- Sacramento's annual gay rodeo.

That's right: Sacramento has a gay rodeo. Surprised? D.L. says you shouldn't be.

The Sierra Stampede is dedicated to keeping the time-honored traditions of the rodeo alive…but it's not afraid to add a few of its own -- such as "camp events" like goat dressing, steer decorating, and wild drag race.

This unique blend of "wild" and "west" draws thousands - both gay and straight - to Sacramento each July. From in the closet…to out of the chute, the gay and lesbian community has come a long way in just a few generations.

Dennis Mangers, a former Assemblyman from Orange County, now calls the Valley home, and says tolerance isn't just good social policy - it's good business. He cites a study by the Brookings Institution that found the leading indicator of a metropolitan area's high-technology success is a large gay population. Sacramento may not be the next Silicon Valley…but midtown is coming alive as it's coming out, with many shops along J and R Streets owned and operated by gay and lesbian merchants.

Gay and lesbian businesses have also found a home in "Lavender Heights," a corridor along 21st Street. One of its anchors is the Lavender Library, a lending library serving Sacramento's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender -- or LGBT -- communities.

In five short years, and almost entirely through doantions, the Library has acquired a collection of more than 10,000 books and other items -- many dating back to the 1950s. It was a much mroe repressive era, says author Ann Bannon, but despite the political climate,she had stories that needed to come out…

Her first novel became the second best-selling paperback of 1957 -- thanks at least in part to readers who judged the book solely by its cover… Because of the lurid artwork, her sweet college romance between two women was seen by some as "sleaze."

Though her books were set in the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village, Ann wrote all but one of them while living in California. In the mid-60s she turned from fiction to academia, eventually becoming a dean at CSUS. But her work lived on through reprints and translations. Now Ann is finally ready to add another chapter to her characters' lives. And like her, they've left the Big Apple for the Big Valley.

It's the same setting where, come July, cowboys and cowgirls throughout the West will flock to the Sierra Stampede - to bust broncs…as well as stereotypes.


 

INTERVIEWS:

D.L. Shields
Festival Director, Sierra Stampede

Dennis Mangers
Senior V.P., CA Cable & Telecomm. Association

Ann Bannon
Author, The Beebo Brinker Chronicles


TRANSCRIPT:

The complete text of New Valley Episode 206: Divided We Stand...

 

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