I come from Wyoming, where the total population of men – about a quarter-million – is roughly equal to the low-end estimate of the number of rats in New York City. (No comparison is implied.) And it could be far fewer, actually.
Yet given all the attention Wyoming has received lately, you'd think that every one of them was a cowboy and gay. The men, that is, not the rats. (OK, this blog's fixation on "Brokeback Mountain" hasn't helped matters any.)
The feedback loop fueled by "Brokeback" surfaced yet again in the pages of today's New York Times, which found real gay cowboys in my non-fictional home state. (Reg. req.)
Mathematically speaking, of course, there are only so many gay men to go around in a state of half-a-million people, so it stands to reason that the media would eventually find themselves interviewing the same ones over and over. One of these men, Joe Corrigan, was interviewed by the Times for having started an annual mountain gathering of gay men in Wyoming.
He was also a central figure in the documentary "Farm Family: In Search of Gay Life in Rural America," made about two years prior to "Brokeback" but currently airing on Logo in hopes of riding the feature film's publicity wave.
The film is a frank look at gay life in flyover country. Many of the interview subjects (surprisingly to some city folk, perhaps) paint a less-than-dismal picture of where they live. They are drawn to rural America by many of the same traits that bring their straight counterparts: the remoteness, the bucolic existence, the agrarian values.
Having escaped my tiny Wyoming town nearly 17 years ago without really looking back, I am not much dissuaded by "Farm Family" from believing that I made the right decision. However, one of the most powerful and helpful political statements a gay person can make is the simple act of coming out, and it takes extra courage to do so outside of America's urban centers.
If "Farm Family" can help ease that journey for even a few more people, then it is a good thing. And whatever we can do to help put the "equality" into "the Equality State" is fine by me.
[Watch video – 10:24, WMV format, high bandwidth]
[Watch video – 10:24, WMV format, low bandwidth]