Weren’t there gay cowboys in the Wild West? The ‘strange’ reality in the west

Pedro Almodóvar’s short film ‘strange lifestyle‘ is the forerunner of a claim that hit theaters this Friday: Does anyone still think there were no gay gunmen, farmers, sheriffs or cowboys in the Wild West in the second half of the 19th century? Western, both American and European, has removed ‘queer’ from an identity that emerges seamlessly in melodrama, comedy, terror or thriller. Before Almodóvar’s short film focuses on the reunion of two former gunmen who loved each other 25 years ago, restricted zone for some movies and major genre masculinity.

Already in the purest classicism, homosexuality is strongly manifested, albeit in an allegorical way. In “Red River” (1948), we witness an intergenerational duel between John Wayne, the quintessential masculine hero of Western cinema, and his godson, 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 during the round we witness a sequence that no sane person can question its double meaning: The ‘cowboy’, played by Clift and John Ireland, talks about how long his guns are.

The film was directed by Howard Hawks, the filmmaker of friendship and male professionalism, but made Cary Grant a transvestite twice. – in a scene from ‘La fiera de mi niña’ and throughout ‘La novia era él’ – and filmed ‘Gentlemens preference blondes’, an absolutely gay sequence in which some muscular and half-naked gymnasts do nothing but Marilyn’s presence. Monroe and Jane Russell.

Even earlier, in the 1930 version “Billy the Kid” or “The Outlaw” by King Vidor (1940), started by Hawks himself, but completed by megalomaniac maker businessman Howard Hughes, gay words were not hidden. George Cukor, a gay director, was a heterosexual filmmaker while adding his fair share to the genre with ‘The Cheyenne Gunslinger’ (1959), originally titled ‘Heller in pink tights’ instead of a pair of pink leggings.Douglas Sirk proved the difference in conservative American society of the 50s with the characters that Rock Hudson embodied.In 1954, he made a ‘Race of Violence’ about Cochise’s son.

But none of them are like Nicholas Ray’s westerns. Jesse and Frank James, played by Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter in “The True Story of Jesse James” (1957), are just like James Dean and Sal Mineo from ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, despite robbing banks, shooting revolvers and having stylish fenders. Ray reached asceticism with ‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954), a passionate political western (a metaphor for a witch hunt) and a lesbian.It is always unclear what Joan Crawford embodies, who, with one of the protagonists’ secret, sickly, and jealous passion for Vienna, better dressed as a man than in a feminine suit.

From friendship to desire

With the advent of the twilight western, sexual ambiguity became evident.: The line separating boyfriend from homoerotic desire was very thin. This is how ‘Wild Bunch’ (1969), ‘Two Men and One Destiny’ (1969) and ‘Two Men Against the West’ (1971) came about, with the triangle formed by Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katharine Ross.

In the margins of independent cinema and ‘underground’, the subject had no problems.: Andy Warhol’s “Lonely Cowboys” (1968) and Andrew Herbert and Scott Hanson’s “Song of the Loon” clearly show “weird” cowboys; ‘Lust in the dust’ (1985), by Paul Bartel, focuses on a traditional story starring a bar dancer and a gunslinger, played by the trans-protagonist of John Waters’ films Divine and the gay 60s Hollywood icon Tab Hunter. In Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Dead Man’ (1995), we see Iggy Pop disguising and negotiating with partners who might sleep with Johnny Depp’s troubled character.

Titles like ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005) would come later, which isn’t exactly a western.and other examples of more daring “independent” cinema, such as “The power of the dog” (2021), about repressed impulses, and “Cowboys” (2020), with Anna Kerrigan starring Steve Zahn as a recently separated man. fleeing social conservatism with her son to the wild and free lands of Montana.

The fact that the masculine and demonic hetero universe of the West is not like this is shown in books such as ‘The Feather and the West: Homosexuality’s fascinating journey in the west’. (2019), documentaries by Fernando Garín Jansa and “Queers & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo” (2014), which is about a year’s worth of International Gay Rodeo Association. Cinema has hidden a fact.

Source: Informacion


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