It was always there

Brokeback Mountain has opened up another discussion for the wider community, that of gay cowboys. Now many of us have known them, there are many stories to be told here. In small towns, in the interior of BC, Montana, Alberta and even Texas, they play their desires secretly, in silence, "don't say Hi to me on the street or in the bar if you see me."

Before now, elders have told me of the old days, of being on the ranch, out rounding up the cattle and then some. It was of course an unspoken thing. Men alone together. The nature of it all lent to its silence. Men taking comfort together, getting close ...

I found a piece of the following story linked too by Washington Blade. (You will see I have added their headlines to the sidebar. I hope you find it a worth while resource.)

"Homoerotic on the range" is the title of a newspaper article in the St Petersburg Times.
The reporter reviews the subject with Chris Packard, author of the recent book Queer Cowboys.

"Queer Cowboys uses excerpts from authors such as Mark Twain, Owen Wister and James Fenimore Cooper to make Packard's case that homoerotic bonds in the Old West were common and socially accepted. Vintage photographs depict men
romantically touching or dancing together while women stand aside. Frederic Remington's sketches of cowboys sharing a haircut and exiting a tent are suggestively posed."

The article contained a portion of this poem, The Lost Pardner. I found the full version of it here at History Matters

The Lost Pardner

I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.

Today, some way, their laughin' hurts me so.

I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!

The bird songs make me sore.

I seem the only thing on earth that cares

Cause Al ain’t here no more!

And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,

And after year on year

When we had always trailed it side by side,

He went—and left me here!

We loved each other in the way men do

And never spoke about it, Al and me,

But we both knowed, and knowin' it so true

Was more than any woman’s kiss could be.

What is there out beyond the last divide?

Seems like that country must be cold and dim.

He’d miss this sunny range he used to ride,

And he’d miss me, the same as I do him.

It’s no use thinkin'—all I’d think or say

Could never make it clear.

Out that dim trail that only leads one way

He’s gone—and left me here!

The range is empty and the trails are blind,

And I don’t seem but half myself today.

I wait to hear him ridin' up behind

And feel his knee rub mine the good old way.

Source: Badger Clark, Sun and Saddle Leather, 3rd ed. (Boston: Richard Badger, Gorham Press, 1919). Reprinted in Jonathan Katz, ed, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A (New York: Avon Books, 1976), 769–70.

This is only one example of the stuff out there, missed or buried by the main stream and many in the queer communities. I will be posting more of these examples. If any of you have a favourite email me and tell me or post a comment with a link.

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