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Wade Earp
(1966 - living) U.S.A.

Wade Earp

Rodeo cowboy

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Earp, who is openly gay, and claims kinship to renowned lawman-gunfighter Wyatt Earp, looks every bit the rodeo cowboy -- hazel-eyed and goateed, lean with a perfect cowboy's physique of 160 pounds on a 5-foot-11-inch frame. He has a cowpoke's appreciation of livestock, as evidenced by the horses, pets and poultry that scratch, squabble and preen nearby. And, he has the typical rodeo cowboy's love of competition.

Born in Idalou, near Lubbock, Earp spent most of his youth in Benton, Ark., surrounded by the farm animals and pets his parents adored. Aware of his sexual orientation from an early age, Earp started coming out while still in Arkansas in his late teens, continuing the process when he moved to Dallas in his early 20s.

One of Earp's first roommates in Dallas was a rodeo clown, which reawakened his longtime interest in rodeo. At the same time, in about 1987, he started dancing for fun at the Round-Up Saloon, a gay country-western dance hall in Dallas. Within two months after his first moment on the dance floor, he began teaching dance classes. Within a year, Earp was competing at the most advanced level -- and winning prizes -- in regional and national dance competitions sponsored by chapters of the IGRA.

These days, he continues to teach a Tuesday night class at the 651, a gay country-western dance hall in Fort Worth. Because the regional gay rodeo association dance competitions generally take place with rodeos, Earp became increasingly aware of the gay rodeo circuit. Meanwhile, Earp's life partner of five years became ill and died, after only a few months of severe illness, in January 1997.

After his partner's death, Earp decided to follow through with his ambition to compete. He bought the acreage in south Dallas, started accumulating animals and began training a horse. Within a few years, he had won prizes regionally and nationally.

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