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Gay cowboys – old hat!

So, with the release of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN comes an awareness of gay cowboys. I grappled with gay cowboys about 10 years ago, when I worked at the Voyager Company. We released a CD-ROM called “Who Built America?” essentially a history textbook come alive with audio, video, photos, diaries, and the like.

“Who Built America?” was bundled with Apple computers sold to schools, and with good reason — it showed off the multimedia capabilities of the machines. However, what some schools realized, and what some parents’ groups didn’t like, was that the CD-ROM also dealt honestly with American history — including illegal abortions and, as the disc called it, “male-to-male intimacy in the west.” And these stories are coming from the turn of the century, not the mid-60s.

The ensuing controversy lead to Apple dropping the disc, which lead to a shitstorm on Usenet — in large part spurred by me (I was pretty much the only Usenet savvy employee at the time.)

It even made the Wall Street Journal.

My favorite Voyager t-shirt is the one we printed up in the face of this controversy, as we were headed to the American Booksellers Association conference that year. It was a screenshot from the CD-ROM, showing the “male-to-male intimacy in the west” entry.

Because of my own naivete, it surprised me that others were surprised by this. I mean, yeah, cowboys are the picture of American manliness, but, come on — men, alone on the frontier, wearing chaps!

Anyway, the CD-ROM is still worth owning, and you can buy it online. I can’t speak to the quality of the second CD-ROM (1914-1946), but it’s probably worth a shot.

  1. So you grappled with some gay cowboys in your New York youth. I’d like to hear more about that.

    I nearly cam to blows with some suspect cowboys, myself, in Adrian, Texas in 1950.

    It was the one weekend a month they were off the range. One of them wore red nail polish, which led me to wonder about those long, dark nights in the Panhandle.

    Obviously, male bonding has always been a key feature of cowboy movies and buddy movies. Intimate male relations date back to the beginnings of literature, Damon and Pythias, David and Jonathan, Robin and his Merry Men, not to mention Batman and Robin.

    What did you think was happening when one rugged he-man lights up a cigarette, takes a strong puff, hands it to his buddy, then lock eyes as the buddy takes his puff?

  2. he advanced towards him and kissed him. it was a very long kiss. Then they went back to another place and made love.

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