You Do Know It’s a Love Story, Right?

Toby’s mother called him the other day and said that along with Walk the Line she wanted him to take her to see Brokeback Mountain. We both made faces when we heard this. I to him. He to the phone. I don’t have a picture of the expression but I know it all too well. It’s the kind of expression you might give the waitress at your favorite restaurant right before you tell her the toilet is overflowing. It’s the expression you give a friend when he/she tells you they’re planning on getting Botox. It’s the kind of expression you give someone right before they’re about to discover something they might find unpleasant that you’ve already been made privy to. This expression is often coupled with the sound of exhaling through ones teeth.

Sentences that might go with said expression:

You don’t want to go in there. But it wasn’t me.

I think your girlfriend is in my bedroom with her pants down.

She does know those cowboys are gay, right?

We talked about this for a while. Toby decided that she probably has no idea that Brokeback Mountain is indeed an amazing love story between two cowboys. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call this movie a film about gay men, I think it’s pretty safe to say that most would. (Not that I’m saying I’m more sophisticated than other people. I’m not at all. I still smell my armpits in public. I’m just saying that, for me, the film was much, much more than what I would call a “gay cowboy” flick. It was a breathtaking love story.)

Maybe our parents are opening their minds! Maybe she does know?

No way. I bet they’re not advertising this film down south as a ‘gay cowboy flick.’

My first reaction was a positive one. I liked the idea that they weren’t selling the movie as a gay cowboy flick. As I mentioned above, I thought the movie was much, much more than that. This marketing attempt sort of touches on a bigger more noble idea: That we, as Americans, might be closer to overcoming bigotry and hatred. Their attempt at selling the movie without the obvious hype assumes that we’re all mature enough to see two men (or two women) together and not immediately consider their acts sinful or sick. Could it be possible? Could I one day live in a country where a same-sex love affair could be considered so normal, it’s not even noticed to talk about?

Immediately after having this somewhat orgasmic awakening, I decided that NOT giving people the idea that it’s a gay cowboy flick is horrible idea.

This is very bad. If they’re not letting people know what it’s about, what if a bunch of burly mean men head to the movies in hopes of seeing a cowboy flick, feel duped, and then head out and gay bash the first “gay” person they can find? This is how hate crimes happen.

On Saturday night, Toby Joe and I were watching SNL. During a commercial break, they showed an advertisement for Brokeback Mountain. And much to our surprise, there was NOTHING in that particular preview giving anyone an idea that the film features a love affair between two men. Not a drop. Instead, the advertisement made it seem like some sort of Garth Brooks video especially given the weight they put on the firework scene.

I’m not saying I think they should make it clear in every advertisement on T.V. But I am worried we’re not mature enough yet to let a bunch of potentially homophobic, unsupervised Americans into a theater and say “HEy Fellas, watch this.”


  1. I saw Brokeback on Saturday, finally, and loved it. It was heartbreaking, the scenery was gorgeous, the performances were absolutely amazing, it was everything I thought it would be. However, a group of people that were sitting to my left were laughing and saying things like “oh no, not again” whenever the two men even kissed or during the sex scene. It was so distracting and I tried not to let it bother my movie viewing, but it did. I wanted to ask them why they even bothered to go see this movie if they knew what was involved…and they are still asses for making comments, but the commercials are pretty unclear about what to expect. I never thought of the consequences of the wrong people (homophobic, gay-bashing) seeing this movie until you pointed it out. I hope that doesn’t happen. Maybe it’s because I don’t think of men having a love affair any big deal, but I thought that Brokeback wasn’t nearly as “controversial” as it was promoted to be. There were barely any nude scenes and it was more about the families of these 2 men and their tragic love story.

    “Could I one day live in a country where a same-sex love affair could be considered so normal, it’s not even noticed to talk about?”

    I sure hope so.


  2. I think this movie is a huge step. It’s going to be a bit of culture shock for a lot of people, including people our parents age, but I think it’s so important and wonderful. Here is a film about a gay relationship, starring two very popular young actors- popular across the board. I’m really hoping that although this film will cause some discomfort, it will help to open people’s eyes and lessen their fears.


  3. Maddie, I think the fellas that sat behind Toby Joe and I in our Manhattan theater went and saw it again by you. We had a similar set up. I was blown away by the fact that not only did they COME to see the movie but by the fact that they actually stayed.

    I kept wanting to yell back at them, IT’S OK! NO ON HERE THINKS YOU’RE GAY FOR BEING HERE. WE GET IT! NOW SHUT THE HELL UP.


  4. Maybe I’m so naive and hopeful, but it shocks me everytime someone does something like that, even though I know there are people out there like that. The fact that they could be so disrespectful to the movie and everyone else watching just infuriated me. Also, it wasn’t just men snickering and commenting, there were a couple women in there too, which shocked me more. I was so tempted to yell at them too…but I’ve found, with ignorant people like that, engaging does nothing but piss you off more.


  5. I think we’re just as alienated as they are, you know? I live in New York. It’s easy to buy into the fact that people are more accepting when you’re surrounded by so many liberal and like-minded people.

    This is SO not the case, however. Sometimes, I think I need to step outside and really see the rest of the world. You know?


  6. It’s funny – I work in an office where 98% of the employees are Republican and over 50. (I do need to get out SOON) Half the time I mention anything gay related, it goes over like I’m some kind of alien. I don’t even bother half the time. God forbid I mention I have friends who are gay, or anything like that. I SHOULD know and I think I do know that a lot of people unfortunately think like those people in the theater, but it’s a sad thing to think about.


  7. i’d have to guess that you’re right michele….tolerance is directly related to geography. i can’t even see the movie here in pittsburgh(well, atleast not within 30 miles of my house). i guess i’ll have to wait for video. it’s going to take a long time for the average man/woman to be able to accept homosexuality as completely normal and i’m guessing two gay cowboys produce quite a few more jokes than universal understanding at this point. unfortunately, the jokes have overshadowed this story’s message, and this isprobably why it hasn’t come to the theaters near me.


  8. greg-
    I don’t think I could ever think of homosexuality as normal. I find it wholly acceptable, I have no problem with it, and don’t think there is anything morally/ethically wrong with it, and I definitely don’t think it should have any bearing on how a person is viewed or treated—but it does tend to be an abnormal trait. It’s commonplace, it should be accepted, but its not really normal

    Let me rephrase – people have children and generally expect them to be heteosexual. We’re not looking at coin-toss probablility of gay/straight – that would be normal.


  9. Danielle at’s write-up of the movie included this line: “the implied visual of Heath Ledger applying spit to Jake Gyllenhall’s quivering asshole”

    That was about all I needed to hear to know that I really don’t want to see the movie.


  10. wow Closet Metro. I am not sure what movie knottyyarn (or whatever her name is) actually saw but it certainly wasn’t Brokeback Mountain.

    It’s a shame a line like the one you quoted above keeps you from seeing the movie especially considering no scene even remotely close to what she describes takes place in the movie.

    Perhaps I saw the “hillbilly” cut.


  11. And Jonathan, with all due respect, where are you getting this implied definition of “normal”?

    Can’t normal merely mean something seen as commonplace?

    Perhaps I’m not getting your point.


  12. I saw Brokeback Mountain on Saturday with my Mom. We drove about 20 minutes from my parents house to see the movie at an “arty” theater. We could have seen it at one of the multi-screen theaters, but we didn’t want to have to get pissed at the snickerers. The movie was amazing. I had to really try to hold back sobs. I had read the short story so I knew how the story progressed. I think that made it all the more heartbreaking. Something that made the experience even more moving occured between a young couple sitting in front of us. As the credits rolled, they hugged for about a minute. It was totally worth the drive to see this movie in a theater where people appreciated the story, the acting, and the cinematography. The only sounds I heard were sniffling and nose-blowing.


  13. Camille, you read the story? Can I ask you a question? I wanted to know more about the written part behind Ennis’s breakdown right after coming off the mountain. He gets sick and throws up and falls to his knees. Did the short story go into that as much? Do you know what I”m talking about?


  14. I know you weren’t asking me, but I read the story before seeing the movie, and it tells you what Ennis is feeling at that moment when he collapses. Having known what he was thinking while watching the scene added so much to it.

    Here’s a place where I found the whole original short story:


  15. You’re the best! I don’t care who answers, my dear. I like knowing stuff. Thank you!


  16. Actually, spit IS applied to an anus.
    However, that is one second of the film. It is not at all dominated by the sex.
    There is only one “sex” scene.
    Although, I have to admit I don’t really NEED to see spit applied to anyone’s anus by anyone.
    It is funny that straight sex is sooooo unrealistic in movies but if it is gay sex then we gotta get the spit take.


  17. now, now, that was done in 8 Mile years and years ago.


  18. Funny enough, but this particular scene is one that bothered me.
    It did NOT bother me because it was gay sex, however.
    It bothered me because it was unrealistic to believe that Ledger’s character-someone who had never had gay sex and possibly never straight sex-would that quickly turn Jake over AND know to lubricate the ass with spit.

    It irked me.


  19. I hadn’t thought of that, Sarah. He did say he hadn’t ever had sex before. You’re so right. That’s something you learn later, gay or straight, right?

    Do men use their own spit from time to time while masturbating? Is this used as lubrication?

    men? You don’t have to use your real name.


  20. To be exact Heath spits into his hand, the application to said ‘quivering asshole’ is merely implied.

    Thanks for writing so much about the movie, it’s been interesting to know your take on it and some of the comments [Jonathon and Closet Metro especially] have been truly eye-opening.

    PS: just added 8 Mile to my NF queue


  21. Donald, they’re comments were sort of eye-openers for me, too.

    P.S. I was wondering where you’d been. Miss ya, sir Donald.


  22. I didn’t even blink twice at the spit or anything. I guess maybe watching shows like Queer as Folk, other movies, etc. has maybe desensitized me? I don’t know if that’s the right word. The sex scene (and there’s only one – from the talk, you’d think that was all there was in the movie) seems to me to be totally secondary to the rest of the story…it’s much more about the love between these two men than just the sex. That’s just my opinion. Maybe I’m thinking too much like a girl.


  23. Yeah,
    I would think lube would be something you learn the hard way, maybe.
    I think that all of this just brings up the old topic of how odd sex scenes can be in movies in general.
    I suppose the point isn’t really to give you a documentary stlye sex scene. I just can’t help but think about all the missing details, though. Gay sex or straight sex, whatever. Like, why does the woman just go to sleep in the wet spot? How come they very rarely pee after sex,do they want a UTI?
    What about the squishy noises or the bodies farts from two sweaty bodies rubbing together?
    Or the times you discover you have migrated to the edge of the bed and have to take a second to relocate? Also, I’m no butt sex expert but wouldn’t it require some post-love cleaning?
    Just sayin.
    Sorry if it is too graphic.


  24. No, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Even if I had caught the “spit scene” it wouldn’t have phased me one bit. Then again, I, too, watch Queer as Folk, The L Word, and The Wire. Hell, I’ve seen porn before. I gotta say, I’ve seen a lot more crazy shit take place in straight porn. (Turn on HBO and watch some of the After Dark documentaries, holy crap.)

    Whatever, it’s a great film. If you’re too squeamish to sit through an insignificant sex scene (given the grand scheme) between any two people, then stick with Saturday morning cartoons and Harry Potter.

    Or maybe your time will be better spent seeing Hostel. yay! Dismemberment! Woo! Now, that’s hot!


  25. Sorry, my above comment was to Maddie.

    Sian, not too graphic at all. I love it. The other night, I was bitching to Toby Joe about it over the phone. After Jonathan said homosexual sex wasn’t normal. Where are we getting that definition from? Then I just started to rant.

    Sex is messy. It’s weird. Weird stuff takes place. Weird sounds come out. It’s weird. But when they do it on the TV? Holy crap. It’s like a ballet, refined and choreographed to perfection.

    (P.S. I wrote about the falsification of sex before. I think i was ridiculed (slightly) because of it.)


  26. Mihow-
    I’m just playing semantics.

    I’m just using normal as what it is defined in the dictionary; ie, expected, the standard. At the risk of sounding like a right wing asshole, homosexuality isn’t completely normal ( greg’s words ).

    I’m not passing judgement on sexuality or sexual preferences – there’s no attempt to place a valuation here on morality / acceptability. I’m just stating that while it is commonplace – especially in urban areas – its still a distinct minority of the population in urban areas and an even smaller portion of the population in areas where its less accepted ( and people either hide their feelings or move away to us big cities where we’re accepting ).

    Trying to dumb down my argument again—Is it nomal to find people within a population who are homosexual? Yes. Is it normal to be one of them? Not really.


  27. I think by ‘normal’ he meant in the sense of something ‘being the norm’ which, statistically speaking, heterosexuality is, rather than in any sense a value judgment. Maybe I shouldn’t speak on his behalf, but that was the vibe I picked up?


  28. Yes, by all means, dumbing down your argument is exactly what I need.

    It’s the standard. It’s expected here on It’s normal. ;]

    I know what normal means. The point I was trying to make was in reference to something Jonathan wrote:

    “It’s commonplace, it should be accepted, but its not really normal”

    I was merely stating that if it is indeed commonplace, can’t that be considered normal?

    Words are powerful (obviously) if we use terms like “normal” and “accepted” with our children eventually it might just become as such.


  29. Sorry, if we use these words when we talk about homosexuality it might just become as such.


  30. Also, I know I’m stating the obvious, but it seems obviously simple to change and we just can’t seem to do it. After all, where do people get this hatred? It’s not innate. It’s adopted from places such as the Bible. It’s inherited from other people.

    Man, I’m annoying myself today.


  31. I think you hit on a good point Mihow. Homophobia, like racism and sexism is learned. I don’t think we can ever unlearn something that’s been so deeply ingrained in our culture. What we can do is choose not to pass it on.


  32. What startles me is that I think people ENJOY hating other people. And what we really need to figure out is WHY they enjoy hating other people and why they feel so strongly about passing on their hatred to impressionable minds. Because if it’s that simple to teach our kids to NOT hate and we choose NOT to do it for whatever reason, there must be something driving us to NOT change.

    Right and wrong is one thing. Believe what you will. But teaching someone – a child – how to hate is just unfair. Why? Why do people do this?


  33. “Why do people do this?”
    Because they’re stupid/ignorant/scared. It’s easy to shift the blame. It’s easy to hate – we’re taught to do it from an early age. Even the bible is full of hate and blame.

    Doug – thats exactly what I meant.

    It would be nice if things like ‘normal’ and ‘commonplace’ were irrelevant, because of race/sexuality/beliefs being non-issues.


  34. It’s incomprehensible and sadly I think in some ways the movie will only feed that hatred. The cowboy is a pretty sacred icon to a certain segment of Americans. For a gay film maker to turn that icon into a homo, especially a non-stereotypical homo, is bound to piss a lot of people off.


  35. To be honest.
    If I had a kid, I would be passing on a lot of hate, myself. Hatred of republicans, rich people, “rednecks”, Yuppies”, “religious zealots” etc. etc.
    I think it is very difficult for all of us to take people one by one. We ALL lump people together and make assumptions based on superficial information.
    Ya know?


  36. True. My kid is going to HATE nextel users.

    DonaldEugene, I hope that’s not the case, but I bet you’re right.

    Jonathan, by calling people ignorant and stupid and scared you’re taking the easy way out and, dare I say, falling into exactly the same trap we should try and avoid. name-calling instead of figuring out WHY people are scared.


  37. What I meant to say is this: Isn’t calling people ignorant in that of itself?


  38. Mihow you know when your kid turns 14 and needs to rebel she’s going directly to to the Nextel store. Unless you’ve got her on restriction AGAIN…


  39. I disagree with the assertion that we learn to hate at a young age. By all accounts, Tim McVeigh was not a hate-filled child, nor was Adolf Hitler. We might share and engender some preferences and prejudices, but the sort of violent homophobia that (I think) we’re discussing is not something that is transmitted solely from parent to child.

    After all, the type of passionate love we feel for a partner is not something that people grow up feeling (the love my children have for me, and I for them, is not like the love they will have for their spouses). I think that who, how and what we hate is a byproduct of our experiences and individuation, just as who, how and what we love is.


  40. You said it.

    Are we have a girl? yay! woo!


  41. I’m wondering who the gay film maker referenced above is. I thought Ang Lee was married and had children. I think it is a misconception that only gay people can make movies or write stories about gay people. I apologize if the comment was referring to someone else.


  42. Yeah, I’m pretty sure Ang Lee is married with kids. He thanked his wife during the Golden Globes, didn’t he? Donald, if you’re out there, are we mistaken?


  43. Ang Lee is married with kids. He’s not gay – he’s just not a bigot.

    Mihow –
    I don’t mean that a certain section of people are ignorant/scared. We all are.

    It doesn’t matter in reference to what – its a classic human trait. We hate / persecute those who are different – be it their looks, their beliefs, their minds.

    I’ve always wondered – is this something that society teaches us in some way? Or is it instinctual? Do we start out with open minds and are socialized to intolerance and hatred of ‘the other’, or do we start with intolerance and must we be socialized to open our minds?

    I don’t know – but throughout history and throughout our lives we’ve seen people who are different persecuted by the majority. You see it in textbooks and stories over the past 3000 years. You see it in highschools, on the news, probably in a restaurant when you get coffee.


  44. “I’ve always wondered – is this something that society teaches us in some way? Or is it instinctual? Do we start out with open minds and are socialized to intolerance and hatred of ‘the other’, or do we start with intolerance and must we be socialized to open our minds?”

    I have wondered this time and time again as well. :/


  45. I think it is funny that you are assuming Ang Lee isn’t gay because he has a wife and kids while this conversation is in the shadow of this book/movie.

    I don’t believe he is gay but hey a wife and kids isn’t proof. Just ask Ennis or Jake!

    Anyway, I was living in taipei when I first heard the whispers of a fabulous director named named Ang Lee. At that time his movie was Hsi Yen or The wedding Banquet. I thought it was brilliant! Again it has a gay theme, a married man marries a woman for convenience.

    I recommend it and would love to hear if anyone else saw it.


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