She came out more than twenty years ago when I was in high school. My parents soon separated and, eventually, she married her longtime partner in one of Massachusetts’s first legal unions. It was a raw and difficult time. I hardly spoke to her for a year while I studied abroad. It felt like a fact that needed to be hidden, especially from my prep school classmates. The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family. My younger siblings were dealing with the same emotions, but meaningful conversation seemed beyond our reach.

Seven years ago, at the age of…

Horses, rhinestones, spurs, and heartbreak: the journey to be Miss Rodeo America.

By Kelly Williams Brown
Photographs by Gabriela Herman

If you want to be Miss Rodeo America, here’s what awaits you.
You will wake up at 4 in the morning, get ready in a tiny RV bathroom with six other women, and show up at the parade by 6 a.m. with enormous cascading curls, full glitz makeup, and a smile that never leaves. You will do this, day in and day out, for a year. During the busiest travel month, July, you’ll spend maybe 24 hours at home.

You will know the signs of colic in horses, and the hometown of…

gabriela herman

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