Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Cowboys and my attempts to think about them.


I had never met a gay person in the movement (or maybe I did, but I didn’t know about it). I had only heard terrible stories of the horrible things they do. That they are all drug-addicted, disease-infested, family hating Antichrists. That they can be changed, “repaired” and led back into the flock, but most of them are so ignorant that they don’t even want the precious gift of salvation Jesus offers them. They were spitting in his face. I thought if I ever saw a gay person, I’d be able to tell he or she is gay right away. The men would look feminized and the women like guys, and that they’d probably have scars from the drugs and violence and an empty look in their eyes. Other than that, I have never really bothered thinking about gay people because they didn’t exist in my world.

One of my friends (a female one I want to add) has been trying to convince me to watch Brokeback Mountain for a few weeks now, as she considers it one of the most important and one of the best movies of the last few years. I refused, partially because I didn’t feel like it would interest me at all, partially because I simply didn’t want to see it. There had been a large discussion about how this movie is against marriage and promotes adultery and destroys our morals and values within the christian community and I felt like I didn’t want to watch that type of thing at this point. Either way, she managed to convince me to “give it a try” with the option to turn it off any time.

And what can I say, I watched the entire thing… and I liked it a lot. Technically, it’s amazing, great images, great pace of story-telling, great actors.

But I also didn’t see where the criticism comes from. I mean, yes, it argues against marriage: It argues that both men shouldn’t have gotten married to a woman in the first place. They obviously struggled with themselves and didn’t know who they were – the fact that these marriages would end in a disaster was clear from the beginning. They entered marriage not only with lies, but also as a person they simply weren’t. You can’t keep up a lie for life, I know that from personal experience. They married because it was expected of them. If this social expectation weren’t there in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Plus, they obviously denied there attractions in front of themselves as well. That calls for an inner fight nobody can get out of undamaged.

It has been argued that the depiction of both wives is pale and negative. I find that not to be true. Especially Ennis’ wife, who finds out rather soon, was beautifully scripted. She is a woman who tries to ignore the obvious problem in order to save the marriage to a man she clearly loves deeply. The incredible hurt she feels can be felt throughout the movie. Especially later, after they broke up, her anger and hurt are expressed really well. On the other hand, she handles with grace. She doesn’t run off and tell everybody. She keeps it a secret, though you can argue whether she does that in order to protect herself or her love. Jack’s wife on the other hand seems very pragmatic. Though she loved him at the beginning, she quickly realizes that she’s nothing but an act for him. She realizes he had only married her because she was the first best chance, and she feels that as soon as Jack could find a way, he would leave her. Out of self-protection, she cuts her emotional connection with Jack and busies herself with work. She too never loses a word or makes Jack feel bad. She does everything to keep the act up for one, and to protect her family as well.

In the end I can say that there is a lot of pain and hurt in the movie, on all sides of the story. The movie doesn’t take a stand on what’s right, what’s wrong, it simply tells a story and leaves it to the viewers to decide. I never really thought about the struggles people with homosexual attractions have to face. After seeing this, you know, I can’t say whether I think it’s right or wrong, but I can definitely say that I can’t imagine Jesus being ok with discriminating people for how they live. He didn’t hate the prostitutes or the adulteress. He loved them and made them feel that they have dignity and a value. If Jesus sees how some people, many people, are treated today because of sex, nationality, gender preference, job, and so on… I think he’s really angry about that and if he ever should come back, he’ll certainly do more than just throw over some tables. I’m just saying that because I know I would.

3 thoughts on “Cowboys and my attempts to think about them.

  1. I still haven’t seen that movie. I should. I know gay people, I even know a transgender person. They’re not bad, they’re just different. It’s kind of like there are black people and white people and everything in between, even so there is much more to sexual orientation that just straight. There’s a continuum between gay and straight actually, with bi in the middle. People fall anywhere along that continuum. Personally, I’m between straight and bi; my attractions are probably 70% male and 30% female. Similarly, some people are born mentally female and physically male, or vice versa. That’s called transgender, and there’s nothing wrong with it either. Transgender people frequently transition to make their bodies line up with their mental gender, which usually requires surgery and hormone treatment. But here’s the thing. Life is not simple like we were taught. Life is complicated. And that’s OKAY. Confusing, yes. But I personally think it’s more beautiful like that. When I left my parents’ beliefs I went from black and white to technicolor.

  2. “That they are all drug-addicted, disease-infested, family hating Antichrists. That they can be changed, “repaired” and led back into the flock, but most of them are so ignorant that they don’t even want the precious gift of salvation Jesus offers them. They were spitting in his face.”

    Oh, man have I heard that speech before! I was just talking with my kind, gentle, big-hearted (and gay) brother yesterday, talking about how he was often told he couldn’t be part of the family any more if he didn’t change. He was told by our father that he would burn in hell, that he would die of AIDS in a gutter, that people would beat him or murder him because he was a “faggot”, and that if he ever brought a man home to meet them they wouldn’t speak to him, possibly beat them both up. (This started when he was about 10 years old. He is 25 now and estranged from our parents.)

    He spent years trying to “pray” himself straight, be attracted to girls, try to be something he wasn’t- but it didn’t work. I always knew he was gay, even when we were little. Even before I knew what that meant. I just knew he was different from the other boys, but that he was a wonderful person and brother.

    To hear them described as quoted above still shocks me- that people actually believe this. And not only the fundies, but a lot of other folks, too. Amazing to me, they can judge that harshly a group of people who are really no different, except that they are attracted to the same sex. What does it even matter?

    I also find it amusing that the same people who use Leviticus 18:22 as there “word of God” against homosexuality easily ignore the other “abominations” in Leviticus. (No eating of shellfish, crabs, lobsters; forbids breeding mixed varieties of cattle, forbids wearing a garment of two kind of material woven together, and much more.) The day I see the religious folk protesting in front of Macy’s Department Store for selling cotton/spandex shirts is the day I, well, probably move to Antarctica with you, Lisa!

    • You know I’ve been picturing exactly the same scenario to understand the situation better. What would I do if my brother was gay? Would I hate him or abandon him? NO! I’d love him just the same, and I’d be there for him and wish him all the happiness in the world. I would definatly support him and welcome his boyfriend if he were to bring one home. I just can’t imagine it any other way. And I believe when I treat my brother like that, I have to treat everybody like that.
      I don’t get this whole “destruction of the family” discussion. What does it matter to me if two men live together? Should I prefer them being married in horrible marriage to women they can’t love and have kids growing up in an environment where they don’t learn what love means?!

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