Weren’t there gay cowboys in the Wild West? The “abnormal” reality in the West

Pedro Almodóvar short film strange way of lifewhich opens Friday in theaters, spearheads the claim: Can anyone still believe that in the Wild West, in the second half of the nineteenth century, there were no gay gunmen, ranchers, sheriffs, or cowboys? Western, both American and European, deprived of gay An identity that appears without any problem in melodrama, comedy, horror or thriller. Before Almodóvar’s short film focused on the reunion between two former gunmen who had loved each other 25 years ago, Some movies have dug into no-go areas for the sake of great genre Manhood.

Already in the purest classicism, albeit in an allegorical way, homosexuality appears powerfully. in red river (1948) We witness the duel between the generations, the duel between John Wayne, the quintessential male hero of Western cinema, and the duel of the Judson played by Montgomery Clift, an actor accustomed to fragile and ambiguous characters. In the end they fight with their fists, without winning or losing, but throughout the round we witness a sequence which no one in their right mind could question its double meaning: Clift and Cowboys played by John Ireland talking about the length of their revolvers.The film was directed by Howard Hawks, a filmmaker of male friendship and professionalism who, however, is a two-time transvestite Cary Grant. – In a scene from My girl monster And in all was his girlfriend– and rolled Gentlemen prefer blondes A completely gay sequence in which some muscular, half-naked gymnasts do nothing but the presence of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

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Even earlier, in the 1930 issue of Billy the boy By King Vidor or in and outlaw (1940), started by Hawks himself but completed by his paranoid producer, business tycoon Howard Hughes, Homosexual statements were unconvincing. The gay director, George Cukor, also contributed to this type of film Cheyenne gunslinger (1959) – Original title Heller In Pink Thigs, Instead of Pink Leggings – While Straight FilmmakerDouglas Sirk, proved the difference in conservative American society in the fifties of the last century through the characters embodied by Rock HudsonMade in 1954 sweat violenceon Ibn Cochise.

But none like Nicholas Ray’s Western. Despite robbing banks, shooting revolvers and sporting sleek bumpers, Jesse and Frank James play Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter in The true story of Jesse James (1957) are nothing more than teen misfits and identity muddled as James Dean and Sal Mineo from Rebellion without cause. Ray achieved asceticism in Johnny Guitar (1954), a swashbuckling political western (a witch-hunt metaphor) and lesbianswith the hidden, morbid passion and jealousy of one of the film’s protagonists for Vienna personified by the ever-mysterious Joan Crawford, who looks better in a man’s suit than in a woman’s suit.

From friendship to desire

With the advent of Twilight Western, the sexual ambiguity becomes apparentThe line separating male friendship from sexual desire was very thin. That’s how they were brought up wild group (1969), Two men, one destiny (1969) – by the triangle formed by Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross – and Two men against the west (1971).

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On the margins of independent cinema and Undergroundthe problem was not a problem: Lonely cowboy (1968) by Andy Warhol W Song of the Lions Andrew Herbert and Scott Hanson show no strings attached cowboys gay; Lust in the dust (1985) by Paul Bartel focusing on a traditional story starring a ballerina salon and Armed personified by Divine, the trans heroine of John Waters films, and Tab Hunter, the gay icon of 1960s Hollywood. even in dead man (1995), by Jim Jarmusch, we see Iggy Pop cross-dressing and negotiating with his partners who can sleep with the troubled character played by Johnny Depp.

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titles like Brokeback Mountain (2005), which isn’t quite a WesternAnd dog power (2021), about repressed drives, as well as other film examples indie Bolder, case Cowboys (2020) by Anna Kerrigan, with Steve Zahn as a recently separated man who elopes with his ten-year-old transgender son into the wilds and lands of independent Montana to escape social conservatism.

Books like The Manly Universe and the Satanic Hetero-Western show that it is not Feather and the West: A Homosexual’s Remarkable Journey Through the West (2019) by Fernando Garín Jansa and documentaries of this kind Gay Cowboys: The Straight Year on Gay Rodeo (2014), about a year into the activity of the International Gay Rodeo Association. Cinema concealed reality.

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