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literature

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The Western  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  

Commentators on the Western often have remarked the strong sense of nostalgia typical of the genre. It evokes the lost world of the old frontier, a time and place when many think men had more of the freedom and independence that Americans believe makes a man a man. The two versions of Brokeback Mountain suggest that an unacknowledged source of this nostalgia for a lost sense of manhood in fact may be the yearning many men feel, but never can admit, for intense closeness to another man.

Brokeback Mountain is an elegy, in which one man, who loved another and was loved in return, but who then rejected him out of shame and fear, remembers and grieves over the loss of his friend. This approach not only relates Brokeback Mountain to the nostalgia typical of Western narrative, but also to the ancient tradition of masculine homoerotic poetry, which begins with the Greeks and Romans and extends through the Renaissance and the Romantics to contemporary gay writing.

Sponsor Message.

Of course, for audiences today, this sense of nostalgia for lost male love is deepened even more by regret over the tragic accidental death of one of the two beautiful, gifted actors who ensured the greatness of the film, Heath Ledger. Though the Motion Picture Academy failed to bestow the Academy Award on Ledger (and Jake Gyllenhaal, and the brilliant film they helped to make), Brokeback Mountain stands as an extraordinary, enduring affirmation of the centrality of male love in the tradition of the American Western.

Eric Patterson

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literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.

arts >> Overview:  Country Music

Although the roots of country music are in conservative rural America, in recent years many gays and lesbians have become attracted to it, and there has been an emergence of gay and lesbian country performers.

literature >> Overview:  Elegy

A poetic response to the death of a greatly loved person, the elegy has had since classical times a homoerotic component.

arts >> Overview:  Film

Since cinema began, Hollywood has been fascinated with finding ways of representing homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Film Spectatorship

Film spectatorship is an integral part of queer culture, affording a process of self-invention and making possible the coded articulation of queer desires and identities.

social sciences >> Overview:  McCarthyism

McCarthyism, which attempted in the late 1940s and early 1950s to expunge Communists and fellow travelers from American public life, made homosexuals the chief scapegoats of the Cold War.

social sciences >> Overview:  Native Americans

A social role for individuals who crossed or mixed male and female characteristics was one of the most widely distributed institutions of native North America.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

Post-Stonewall gay male photography merits recognition for its contribution to fine art, documentation, photo-journalism, and advertising, as well as erotica.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall

Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.

arts >> Overview:  Rodeos

The International Gay Rodeo Association, a thriving group with more than thirty affiliates across the United States and in two Canadian provinces, celebrates both the cultural heritage of the rural West and the glbtq identities of its participants.

literature >> Overview:  Romance Novels

Appealing to glbtq people who enjoy romantic fantasy, the queer romance novel has recently come into its own.

literature >> Overview:  Romantic Friendship: Male

Critics use the term male romantic friendship to describe strong attachments between men in works ranging from ancient epics and medieval romances to Renaissance plays, Gothic novels, westerns, and war movies.

social sciences >> Overview:  Rural Life

Rural life offers both challenges and satisfactions for glbtq people.

literature >> Overview:  War Literature

From ancient times, homoerotic writing has been a notable part of the literature of war.

social sciences >> Berdache

Both male and female berdaches (or two-spirit persons), common among Native American tribal cultures, were characterized by gender variation sanctioned by supernatural dreams and visions.

arts >> Clift, Montgomery

Montgomery Clift was not only an extraordinary actor, but also an isolated and tortured, closeted gay man, who used drugs and alcohol to escape his pain.

literature >> Crowley, Mart

Playwright Mart Crowley deserves honor for having blazed the trail for gay-themed theater with his 1969 groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band.

arts >> Dean, James

Although he spent only two years in Hollywood before his untimely death, James Dean became an enduring icon of American film, one whose brooding non-conformity helped challenge rigid notions of masculinity.

arts >> Grant, Cary

Although actor Cary Grant consistently denied rumors of his bisexuality, his good looks, charisma, and ambiguous sexuality enchanted women and men alike.

arts >> Howe, Delmas

Prominent American artist Delmas Howe seeks to visualize gay history by linking the past with the present in intensely homoerotic, deceptively naturalistic paintings.

arts >> Hudson, Rock

A product of Hollywood's star system, Rock Hudson became an international symbol of heterosexuality, wearing a mask until it was savagely ripped off when he was diagnosed with AIDS.

arts >> lang, k. d.

Long before she came out, lesbians had made singer k.d. lang their own.

arts >> Quaintance, George

An influential figure in a unique American style of art, George Quaintance was a pioneer of male physique painting.

arts >> Ray, Nicholas

One of the most significant and influential American movie directors of the twentieth century, Nicholas Ray created characters and situations that continue to resonate with queer viewers.

literature >> Rechy, John

In his novels about hustling, preeminently City of Night and Numbers, John Rechy moves from the world of homosexual behavior into the world of gay identity.

arts >> Schlesinger, John

British director John Schlesinger has been a significant force in introducing homosexual themes into mainstream British and American films.

arts >> Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen)

Defiantly rejecting the invisibility, homophobia, and indignities of pre-Stonewall life, the men in Tom of Finland's drawings reflect a hyper-masculine, working-class version of homosexual manhood that proved important to the emerging gay rights movement.

arts >> The Village People

The Village People, a disco-era singing group, successfully translated the interests, coded language, and iconography of the gay male subculture into music that crossed over into mainstream pop.

arts >> Warhol, Andy (as filmmaker)

Although Andy Warhol is generally remembered either for a single film--Sleep (1963)--or for works that he did not actually direct, his contribution to gay cinema is incalculable.


    Bibliography
   

Boag, Peter. Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest. Berkeley: University of California, 2003.

Cawelti, John. The Six-Gun Mystique. Bowling Green: Popular Press, 1971.

Fellows, Will. Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1996.

Katz, Jonathan Ned. The Invention of Heterosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2001.

Levine, Martin. Gay Macho: The Life and Death of the Homosexual Clone. New York: New York University, 1998.

Mitchell, Lee Clark. Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1996.

Packard, Chris. Queer Cowboys and Other Erotic Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Patterson, Eric. "'My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys': Men Who Love Men, Westerns, and Brokeback Mountain." glbtq.com (January 1, 2008): http://www.glbtq.com/sfeatures/pattersonbrokeback.html

_____. On Brokeback Mountain: Meditations about Masculinity, Fear, and Love in the Story and the Film. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2008.

Quinn, D. Michael. Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. Urbana/Chicago: University of Illinois, 1990.

Savage, William W., Jr. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History and Culture. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1979.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Patterson, Eric  
    Entry Title: The Western  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated March 12, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/western.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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