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One almost never hears about homosexuality in the Old West

I find that strange. In a society with a huge shortage of women and a lack of legal and social controls, you'd imagine it to have been rampant.

by Anonymousreply 13305/24/2015

It was rampant. Who says you never hear about it? But the biggest place in America it ran rampant was colonial Virginia, which had an 8 to 1 male to female ratio in the early days and gay unions not dissimilar to Australian mateship.

by Anonymousreply 105/24/2010

It was rampant, but cowboys don't kiss and tell. There was such a shortage of women, even the cows weren't safe.

by Anonymousreply 205/24/2010

Any literature on the topic?

by Anonymousreply 305/24/2010

There weren't a lot of women but in movies and tv it seems like every town was teeming with whores.

by Anonymousreply 405/24/2010

Read "The Virginian" by Owen Wister and tell us that again, OP. That's the gayest book ever written.

by Anonymousreply 505/24/2010

Actually, the 1940s film of "The Virginian" is pretty damn gay. The two leads start out as enemies, and get closer and closer as the film goes on, and finally get drunk and wind up in bed together. The film shows them both crammed into a tiny narrow bed, looking regretful, but fully clothed. Gary Cooper made a lot of homoerotic westerns, come to mention it.

by Anonymousreply 605/24/2010

This thread has inspired me to go get another copy of Stonewall, The Other Side of Silence, which is a history of homosexuality in the US, mostly in the 20th Century. It covers a bit of the West too in "cowboy" times. Every time I buy a copy I give it away to someone I think needs to read it. In the 19th Century the word homosexual did not exist. You have to look for other words like sodomites etc.

by Anonymousreply 705/24/2010

I've heard that cowboys are frequently, secretly fond of each other.

by Anonymousreply 805/24/2010

The outlaw was thick with gay tension.

by Anonymousreply 905/24/2010

I swear...

by Anonymousreply 1005/24/2010

[quote]colonial Virginia, which had an 8 to 1 male to female ratio

George Washington and Lord Fairfax had good reason for hooking up when George was barely past twinkhood. Of course, history changed his Fairfax interest to look like it was all aimed at Sally Fairfax.

by Anonymousreply 1105/24/2010

"This thread has inspired me to go get another copy of Stonewall, The Other Side of Silence, which is a history of homosexuality in the US, mostly in the 20th Century." I haven't been able to track down a copy of this book. Could you please indicate the author, publisher, etc.? Thanks.

by Anonymousreply 1205/24/2010

SF's gay reputation started during the Gold Rush. It continued. In 1990, the incidence of the male homosex was twice as high in the Seattle to San Francisco belt as it was in Boston-New England area.

Any all-male camps, mining, cowboys, lumberjacks, merchant marine, whaling, the military: all were notorious for the homosex.

by Anonymousreply 1305/24/2010

1990 sounds like it was a lot of fun.

by Anonymousreply 1405/24/2010

OP, you have no idea! It was gayer than an Ungaro spring frock!

by Anonymousreply 1505/24/2010

What is the famous painting from the 1850s that shows the good '49ers on one side of the painting and the degenerate ones on the other. On the degenerate side the guys are boozing, gambling and two are quite obviously groping a young boy.

by Anonymousreply 1605/24/2010

I forget the URL but someone here posted a link to a site that had lots of info on gays in the Old West

by Anonymousreply 1705/24/2010

"Queer Cowboys" by Chris Packard:

"Chris Packard introduces readers to the males-only clubs of journalists, cowboys, miners, Indians, and vaqueros who defined themselves by excluding women and the cloying ills of domesticity and recovers a forgotten culture of exclusively masculine, sometimes erotic, and often intimate camaraderie in the fiction, photographs, and theatrical performances of the 1800’s Wild West."

by Anonymousreply 1805/24/2010

Homosexuality has been whitewashed out of as much history as possible. Common sense tells us it was always going on, especially in environments where there were few women.

by Anonymousreply 1905/24/2010

Aaaaaarrrgh, mateys, pirates did it, too!

by Anonymousreply 2005/24/2010

Were The Lone Ranger and Tonto and Cisco and Pancho, just friends?

by Anonymousreply 2105/24/2010

As recently as the 2000 census all the towns with a high population of males to female were in the west, except for towns with universities, prisons, and military bases.

by Anonymousreply 2205/24/2010

here you go R12

by Anonymousreply 2305/24/2010

He's only a gay caballero.

by Anonymousreply 2405/24/2010

For the most part, old west cowboys were NOT homosexual. On the other hand, they all had a few dozen discreet and casual j/o buddies.

by Anonymousreply 2505/24/2010

DL favorite John Barrowman sings Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In."

by Anonymousreply 2605/24/2010

Huh-huh, naw, Mongo straight.

by Anonymousreply 2705/24/2010

I heard about it...

by Anonymousreply 2805/24/2010

I love you, R27.

by Anonymousreply 2905/24/2010

How do you know, r25? Were you there?

Generally, such relationships were secretive and undocumented by nature. It does not mean they did not exist.

As others have pointed out: traveling west gave one an opportunity to escape the obligations of marriage and the judgment of society and to live almost entirely in the company of men.

No doubt not ALL cowboys were gay, but really... you do the math.

by Anonymousreply 3005/24/2010

Jack Twist? Jack NASTY!

by Anonymousreply 3105/24/2010

Irony seems to be lost on R30.

by Anonymousreply 3205/24/2010

R32, your post at R25 isn't clear as a comment on craigslist-style hetero-looking-for-gay-sex postings. It could easily have been misinterpreted as sincere.

Your attempt at humor is appreciated, but underwhelming. Ty again.

by Anonymousreply 3305/24/2010

Here you go:

by Anonymousreply 3405/24/2010

"Try" again. Oops.

by Anonymousreply 3505/24/2010

OP is too young to remember "Blazing Saddles"

by Anonymousreply 3605/24/2010

R16, here's a copy of that painting with the miners groping the twink, and maybe I'll look for a larger copy. It's called "Sunday Morning in the Mines", and the original is at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

by Anonymousreply 3705/24/2010


Thank you. I was searching under Stonewall, the Other Side of Silence.

by Anonymousreply 3805/24/2010

larger version-

by Anonymousreply 3905/25/2010

That's hardly "a young boy" in that painting.

by Anonymousreply 4005/25/2010

Thank you R37/39, I searched for the painting but I could not find it.

by Anonymousreply 4105/25/2010

Hanky Code from Wikipedia:

The wearing of various colored bandanas around the neck was common in the mid- and late-nineteenth century among cowboys, steam railroad engineers, and miners in the Western United States. It is thought that the wearing of bandanas by gay men originated in San Francisco after the Gold Rush, when, because of a shortage of women, men dancing with each other in square dances developed a code wherein the man wearing the blue bandana took the male part in the square dance, and the man wearing the red bandana took the female part (these bandanas were usually worn around the arm or hanging from the belt or in the back pocket of one's jeans).

HOT, no?

by Anonymousreply 4205/25/2010

Those bunkhouses (as in the old western movies) must have been a riot of homosex .... and all those young (and not so young) guys out on the trail, cattle-herding etc, in their chaps - emphasing their assets ...

by Anonymousreply 4305/25/2010

I love how, in the painting, the 'twink's' knees are all muddy.

by Anonymousreply 4405/25/2010

They all seem to have muddy knees except the guy who isn't wearing any pants.

by Anonymousreply 4505/25/2010

Um, because they were PRAYING!

by Anonymousreply 4605/25/2010

I also like the two guys on the right, one bareass, the other one checking him out.

by Anonymousreply 4705/25/2010

This link has LOTS of information about male lovin' in the Wild and Woolly West.

by Anonymousreply 4805/25/2010

Birthday greetings to James Butler Hickok. Despite the impression you got from Doris Day and Howard Keel, Wild Bill had no interest in Calamity Jane. Instead, Charley Utter was the one he lived with and Charley is said to be the love of his life.

by Anonymousreply 4905/27/2010

Wild Bill Hicock was born on May 27, 1837 in Troy Grove, Illinois.

by Anonymousreply 5005/27/2010

Women were scarce in the Wild and Woolly West.

by Anonymousreply 5106/02/2010

The Outlaw was on again this morning, in a crystal-clear print. Those three boys (Doc Holliday, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) sure had something going on.

by Anonymousreply 5206/02/2010

Women were not just "scarce"- they were completely absent from the "old west" for a very long time. Yet, as Gore Vidal points out, there were still brothels. Filled with young men. So "Miss Kitty" was actually Mister Kitty.

by Anonymousreply 5306/02/2010

"Women were scarce in the Wild and Woolly West." Actually, there were Native American women, but Anglo-Saxon men didn't marry them the way that French or Spanish men did.

by Anonymousreply 5406/02/2010

R11 - would you please post a reference or source for that? I'm researching that era and Fairfax's dealings, and would be grateful for the research lead.

by Anonymousreply 5506/02/2010

"Young cowboys had a great fear / That old studs once filled with beer / Completely addle' / They'd throw on a saddle, And ride them on the rear."

by Anonymousreply 5606/12/2010

Do you think these relationships between men were generally acknowledged or were the kept secret?

A friend and I were discussing what would happen if two men, say, working on the trans-continental railroad, were discovered to be lovers -- would the community shrug, would they be kicked out of the community or would they possibly be lynched?

My guess would be that it either would casually accepted though not condoned or they would be sent packing; my friend believes they would be killed.

I really wish there was a single volume history of this topic.

by Anonymousreply 5703/17/2013

Watch Howard Hawks's Red River

by Anonymousreply 5803/17/2013

I remember reading that "dude" was slang for gay in the old west.

by Anonymousreply 5903/17/2013

R57 Good questions. But we'll never know because they didn't write about it.

Look at it this way - these men committed acts that were unnatural to the vast majority of them. And just like in the British Navy, the Outback and surely on the trips to Mars, most men go back to women when they get the chance. Leaving us with the memories :)

by Anonymousreply 6003/18/2013

I'm sure some men assumed domestic responsibilities just as they do in relationships today.

by Anonymousreply 6103/18/2013

After Brokeback Mountain came out, Patricia Nell Warren (The Front Runner) wrote a piece about growing up on a big ranch with cowboys when she was a girl.

by Anonymousreply 6203/18/2013

Patricia Nell Warren's article.

by Anonymousreply 6303/18/2013

r12 go to they have them used.

by Anonymousreply 6403/18/2013

I think the ladies were getting it on as well.

by Anonymousreply 6503/18/2013

Ride me cowboy!

by Anonymousreply 6603/18/2013

heard billy the kid was a dandy. you don't hear about them because it was unacceptable. they existed though.

by Anonymousreply 6703/18/2013

Lots of cocksuckers in Deadwood.

by Anonymousreply 6803/18/2013

This is why!

by Anonymousreply 6903/18/2013

Many native American communities included gay members in the old West (I think the term that is used is "Two-Spirited" people)

by Anonymousreply 7003/18/2013

I assume it was a very common practice. Since there were so few women, I bet most of them engaged in some form of homosex. I also assume that the % of gays was the same as ever so that means it was heaven for real homosexuals, being able to have sex with plenty of men w/o really being afraid of being shamed by society, of being exposed (people didn't seem to talk about sex then anyway) and not being forced to marry or explain why they aren't married.

by Anonymousreply 7103/18/2013

r71 That is true, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was still a stigma towards femme men and genuinely gay men(I am not implying they are one in the same).

There might have been a social distinction between the real gays and those only doing it out of having no women around. Even back then, I imagine people suspected who was gay or straight.

by Anonymousreply 7203/18/2013


Okay, but how many "fem" men do you suppose went west to pan for gold all day, build fences for cattle, brawl with their neighbors, invading Native American tribes, etc.

I would wager that most "fem" gay men moved to big cities.

Or am I confusing stereotypes here?

by Anonymousreply 7303/18/2013

r73 Good point.

by Anonymousreply 7403/18/2013

Yeah r72 I agree. If I had to guess, I'm pretty sure most gays tried not to "act too gay" so people wouldn't suspect. People were still more religious, more superstitious, more prejudice and religious than they are today. I'm sure they didn't shout their gayness from the rooftops but they probably didn't need to look over their shoulders all the time either.

by Anonymousreply 7503/18/2013

r73 that's a great point. What you say makes perfect sex. I suppose it was a lot easier for the masculine gays to pretend gay sex was just out of necessity.

by Anonymousreply 7603/18/2013

Check out the movie [italic]Tombstone[/italic] and watch Jason Priestley and Billy Zane's characters. Jason P plays what looks like the boyfriend of the head criminal and Billy Zane plays a somewhat flamboyant actor. I wonder if the attitudes then might be somewhat like it is depicted here. No one ever says anything but it's just understood.

by Anonymousreply 7703/18/2013

It was a simple, hard life with work, work and more work. There wasn't much stimulation for them. And there was the religious factor to consider. There was next to no sophistication in the country areas. But there were some who had the feelings, which they probably suppressed. In the native american communities there was no stigma to same sex preference. In fact, some were held in high regard.

by Anonymousreply 7803/18/2013

Sorry R78, but there was tremendous freedom from religion.

by Anonymousreply 7903/19/2013

I'll tell you one thing though .. when Time Travel comes in, that's the first place I'm going. The Old West. Dodge City sounds good.

by Anonymousreply 8004/09/2013

Similarly, gauchos (Argentina cowboys) have always had a reputation for dabbling in the homosex.

by Anonymousreply 8104/09/2013

If you wanted a good book about passions amongst the pirates Brethren: Raised By Wolves is a pretty good read. It's a romance.

by Anonymousreply 8204/09/2013

More often the ladies were like this!

by Anonymousreply 8305/11/2013

Can someone start a thread about Gold Rush Alaska? It's a show on Discovery Channel about guys going up to the Klondike and Alaska and mining gold. I'm curious about what you all think about Dave Turin and Dustin Hurt.

by Anonymousreply 8408/12/2013


by Anonymousreply 8508/12/2013

R84, Thread started on Gold Rush Alaska.

Has anyone been to The Old Autry Museum?

by Anonymousreply 8608/12/2013

[quote]Were The Lone Ranger and Tonto and Cisco and Pancho, just friends?

It was all covered in the long suppressed "Fourgy" crossover episode.

by Anonymousreply 8708/12/2013

The guy baring his ass to his friend on the right is giving me the vapors. That is one high, tight, fine looking bum, for sure.

I am trying to figure out what is going on in the little house at the back of the painting. Are they fighting?

by Anonymousreply 8808/12/2013

I love that painting, R88.

And I love that it shows the "bad" miners on the left molesting a drunken young twink, and two "good" miners on the right stripping off to do laundry, like an old married couple.

by Anonymousreply 8908/12/2013

I wonder about those six hunky young brothers in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". What did they do before they kidnapped the women? They all looked like they never had much dirt on their clothes, or hair.

by Anonymousreply 9008/12/2013

R90 Here's the answer to your question (NSFW.)

by Anonymousreply 9108/12/2013

R58-thank you- that is one of the best come on scenes in film history. They aren't shy about it either. Howard Hawks always placed a homosexual undercurrent in his films. Watch "Ball of Fire" and it's seven old men. Or Cary Grant yelling in a female house robe about suddenly going gay in " Bringing Up Baby".

by Anonymousreply 9208/12/2013

They were only cowboys if Jews can be considered cowboys. Jews dressing up like the hoste people and degrading them has been going on since before Adam and Eve.

by Anonymousreply 9308/14/2013

I just got a boner watching that clip at r58.

by Anonymousreply 9408/14/2013


The ironic thing about the [italic]Red River[/italic] clip is that in real life John Ireland had a huge gun and Montgomery Clift had a tiny one.

by Anonymousreply 9508/14/2013

93 where the fuck did that come from...and it does raise the question was adam jewish without a jewish mother

by Anonymousreply 9608/14/2013

I wonder if the astronauts gave each other handjobs on the way to the moon, or anything like that.

by Anonymousreply 9708/14/2013

a couple of things --- in contrast to what most people think, colonial America to the mid 1800s, the population was decidedly less religious than it is today ---- 16% in colonial times, 32% in 1850 were regular churchgoers, as opposed to the roughly 62% today... and only at the advent of the scientific revolution in the late 1800s did fundamentalism come into the forefront.... so I don't think the option of sexual convenience was influenced much by religious ideas --- and displaying physical affection to the same sex was not taboo until after the trial of Oscar Wilde -- then it seemed the handholding and the arms and legs intertwined with each other for photographs said something else about you..... and a couple of other interesting facts -- roughly 40 percent of cowboys were African americans.... and the hat of choice was not the cowboy hat --- it was the bowler or derby.....

by Anonymousreply 9808/14/2013

The main sources for historical studies of homosexuality are almost always in court documents, most often in prosecution cases involving buggery or public lewdness. And don't forget that in Ye Olde West, almost all of them fellers carried guns -- better be pretty sure who you're dealing with or else you could end up cactus fodder.

by Anonymousreply 9908/14/2013

Other Side of Silence

John Loughery, Author Henry Holt & Company $35 (527p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3896-5

Most Library's have a copy of it!

by Anonymousreply 10005/22/2014

I wish there were more books on this topic.

by Anonymousreply 10105/31/2014

Opie, what do you think a leatherstocking is, after all?

by Anonymousreply 10205/31/2014

Four years ago, R5 on this thread recommended reading "The Virginian" by Owen Wister. I just want to observe that the first chapter of that book is titled "Enter the Man."

by Anonymousreply 10305/31/2014

I'm just suprised this thread has been around for so long and not a single older datalounger has posted any stories from back then.

by Anonymousreply 10406/01/2014

[all posts by tedious, racist idiot removed.]

by Anonymousreply 10506/01/2014

[quote] I just want to observe that the first chapter of that book is titled "Enter the Man."

I guess it would've been clearer if it had been titled "The Man Goes Up In the Man."

by Anonymousreply 10606/01/2014

r40 = Bryan Singer

by Anonymousreply 10706/01/2014

"George Washington and Lord Fairfax had good reason for hooking up when George was barely past twinkhood. Of course, history changed his Fairfax interest to look like it was all aimed at Sally Fairfax."

Sounds like a good topic for a revisionist biopic: "George Washington: The Twink Years"

by Anonymousreply 10806/01/2014

The biopic "George Washington: The Twink Years" is at the top of my "to do" list.

by Anonymousreply 10906/03/2014

In Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian", an authentic account of life in the west along the Arizona and New Mexican border, a man traveling with a group to the old pueblo of Tucson warms up to a young man they come across. The boy spends the night with the traveler and is of course, never seen again. I think they camped at Tubac Presidio that night.

by Anonymousreply 11006/03/2014

[quote]The boy spends the night with the traveler and is of course, never seen again.

Do you mean that the boy was never seen again or the couple was never seen again?

by Anonymousreply 11106/03/2014

[R111] I read it to mean that the man sexually violated the boy and then killed him and disposed of his body.

by Anonymousreply 11206/03/2014

Maybe homosexuality wasn't invented yet back then.

by Anonymousreply 11306/03/2014

Those men in the Old West may not have known the "homosexuality" name, but they knew how to have sex with other men.

by Anonymousreply 11406/06/2014

The Old West was always known for gaiety. Wasn't it normal for gay bars of yesteryear to be called things like "Gold Rush Saloon" and "The Gay Nineties" etc.?

by Anonymousreply 11506/06/2014

[quote] One almost never hears about homosexuality in the Old West

In what context, Mary? I'm no historian but I've heard of it.

How often does "one" hear about the old west, anyway? I never hear people talk about same-sex relationships in medieval monasteries, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen or that no one knows about it.

What a bizarre observation.

by Anonymousreply 11606/06/2014

There was an old west before the 1890s r115.

by Anonymousreply 11706/13/2014

[quote]I never hear people talk about same-sex relationships in medieval monasteries, but that doesn't mean that it didn't happen or that no one knows about it.

In Irish monasteries and convents, they had same-sex marriage among the monks and nuns. The church tried to keep that hidden and at one time, tried to get the Irish to send all their records to Rome. The Irish locked them away from Rome, and today, historians and scholars can view the records. There was a same-sex marriage tradition in the Catholic church in Ireland but you won't hear that mentioned in current discussions of traditional marriage.

by Anonymousreply 11806/13/2014

[quote]Those men in the Old West may not have known the "homosexuality" name, but they knew how to have sex with other men.

That's right.

by Anonymousreply 11906/14/2014

Someone needs to post A Life in the Old West thread.

by Anonymousreply 12006/14/2014

Paint yer wagon and come along!

by Anonymousreply 12106/15/2014

I'm sure they were but they also fucked a lot of Indian women/stole them/kidnapped them.

OTOH Indian women were fucking their siblings in their tribes...and had a high incidence of VD.

Also many of the men stayed virgins too & died virgins.

by Anonymousreply 12206/15/2014

None of these cowboys look gay

by Anonymousreply 12306/15/2014

From "9 crazy truths about the wild west"

Far from being moral, they were known to be obnoxious, and most of them had a terminal case of STD. Oh, and things had a tendency to get pretty Brokeback.

by Anonymousreply 12406/15/2014

When I was very young, I was told by a much older straight man that homosexual behavior has always existed, and was quietly gossiped about but never publicly admitted.

by Anonymousreply 12506/15/2014

"Things we learned to do with our dicks on long, dark lonely nights in the Old West" that were never to leave the Old West.

by Anonymousreply 12606/16/2014

What happens in Phoenix, stays in Phoenix.

by Anonymousreply 12706/19/2014

The men of the old west are like men today who are in prison, the Marine Corps, and U.S. Forrestry Service.

by Anonymousreply 12806/22/2014

Patricia Nell Warren, who wrote "The Front Runner" lived on a huge ranch out west that belonged to her family. After Brokeback came out, she did some investigating on "gay cowboys" and it's pretty interesting.

by Anonymousreply 12906/22/2014

The picture of the cowboys dancing with each other is at this link

by Anonymousreply 13005/24/2015

homosexual—a word that wasn’t even used until 1868

by Anonymousreply 13105/24/2015
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