Host: Hello and welcome back to Queer on the Frontier: the show that examines cultural representations of the gay cowboy. [theme music]
For many, the Cowboy is a figure of raw, unbridled masculinity. A rugged hero and a self-made man, the cowboy sits at the center of a mythical frontier that enchants the imagination of Hollywood and society. Yet, in recent years, this idea has come more and more under scrutiny as new interpretations of the Cowboy have come to light, along with new understandings of those classic heroes of the Wild West we all know and treasure. We set out to understand: how queer was the nineteenth-century frontier?[Title Card, Intro Music plays]
Host: I’m here in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountain range, a little over a hundred years ago this remote plain was home to all manner of cowboys and outlaws. These passes behind me were the hideout of history’s most infamous western gang: the Hole in the Wall Gang. Now, it’s a tourist destination where travelers from all over can stay in traditional rustic cabins, ‘take ther boots off,’ ‘help themselves to the beans in the pot,’ and learn what it meant to be a cowboy of old. I’m joined here by a Larry Laffer, proprietor of the Hole in the Wall Lodge & Adventures, how are you doing today Larry, or should I say ‘how was the trails, partner?’
Larry: Aw well any day above ground is a good day I always say.
Host: (chuckles) Fantastic, that’s great Larry. Now tell me, what led you to take up this rugged life out here on the range. Was it the thrill of adventure, the intoxicating allure of the striking cowboy figure, or were you running away from something, somebody, or perhaps even yourself?
Larry: Well, (spits) no in fact I wasn’t always a cowboy, used to be just like any other feller I suspect, grinding my axe down to a little nub. Thens, I saw a little picture at the movies about the old desperados and whatnot and, I guess I just decided I’d had my fill of all the hullabaloo. So, I came out here and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I guess you could say I took to the life of a cowboy like a horse takes to oats.
Host: That’s fascinating Larry. Now you’re kind of famous around here for your, well how do I say it, for a certain ‘flair’ you bring to the cowboy life, would you mind talking about that?
Larry: Ma whut now?
Host: Your purple suit for one, it’s not quite traditional cowboy attire is it?
Larry: Ma suit? Well, I guess yeah it is a little different from the usual digs. But it protects my back when the sun is beating down on me and keeps me warm at night all the same, and that’s all you can ask for.
Host: And your bedazzled boots, (camera pans down to boots) those are spectacular where did you get those?
Larry: Well these, one of my pals up here made me these seein as my others were gettin a little tattered, in fact these just one of a matchin pair, the other bein on his little dogs.
Host: Speak more on these chaps you’re wearing Larry, they certainly are something.
Larry: Yea-ah, well they wasn’t always like that. In fact, when I first purchased them they wasn’t havin the holes in the back and they was just normal chaps. I done worn em down with riding and such and scritchin my behind on the rocks when I git a little itchy.
Host: Incredible. (turns to camera) And so we see that even out here in the remote hills of the west, even that archetypal image of manhood can be recast in a manner that jeopardizes the cowboy’s standing in a testosterone-driven, heterosexual culture.
Larry: Whut kinda program you say this was?
Host: Larry, I and the viewers at home, we thank you for your time, your courage, and we wish you happy trails ahead.
Larry: “Ay wayment, I ain’t no fuckin-[cuts back to studio]
Host: “Such a brave, brave man. Leading the way for a new generation of rangers and cattle rustlers, Larry is just one example of a new western man. This has been Queer on the Frontier, signing off now, until next week.