December 17th, 2005

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NY Times article about gay Wyoming cowboys in 2005

December 18, 2005 Cowboys, Just Like in the Movie By GUY TREBAY Lusk, Wyo.

THERE are missile silos tucked throughout the hills around the high plains here, a town 140 miles north of Cheyenne with more sheep than people, with one stop light, no bowling alley or movie theater and a year-round population just above 1,000. Although the silos, with their sinister nuclear payloads, are well concealed, most locals know where to find them. Wyoming's wide-open spaces are like that, with space enough to conceal wide-open secrets, and good reasons to do so.

Among the secrets is the existence of gay cowboys, a term that might have struck some as an oxymoron before Ang Lee's new film, "Brokeback Mountain," which opened earlier this month to sold-out houses in New York and Los Angeles, seven Golden Globe nominations and almost universally rave reviews. By the standards of the rhapsodically spare film and the bleak Annie Proulx story on which it is based, gay cowboys are so anomalous as to be characters out of myth.

Yet there has always lurked a suspicion that the fastidious Eastern dude of Owen Wister's "The Virginian" harbored stronger than proper feelings for his rough Western compadres, and that the Red River crowd may have gotten up to more than yarning by the campfire whenever Joanne Dru was not around. The light Ang Lee allows into the bunkhouse closet may shock those who like their Marlboro Men straight.

But to gay men trying to forge lives in a world where the shape of masculinity is narrow, and where the "liberated" antics of the homosexual minstrels so often depicted on television can seem far off, the emotional privation and brutal violence of "Brokeback Mountain" seems like documentary.

"That could have been my life," Derrick Glover said one bitter cold afternoon last week, referring to the film, which he had seen at a special screening a week before in Jackson, Wyo. Read more...Collapse )