A prime example of the Between the lines history I was talking about yesterday is the American cowboy. What a man! He's handsome, rugged, in shape, swaggered, aggressive, virile, masculine, etc. He's also alone, except for his male ''pardners,'' he lives in a homosocial environment and is an outlaw. When I say ''outlaw'' I'm not necessarily talking about a criminal, but a person not bound by the rules, regulations and conduct codes of the East.
So, what can LGBT's read into this famous iconic image. Well, for one thing sodomy laws were a form of regulation or code of conduct. But the cowboy was often isolated and removed from ''civilization'' and it's laws including sodomy laws. Also his world was male dominated, which can encourage and/or imply homoerotic feelings and behaviors. Horseplaying with his pardner, cooking meals outside on an open flame with his pardner and no doubt confiding with his pardner is a wild west version of those romantic/intimate friendships I talked about in my Bosom Buddies post. Another point is that cowboys are a caricature of manliness and LGBT's, especially gay men, love caricature. I know I'm attracted to caricature. Drag queens are caricatures and Tom of Finland drawings are caricatures.
If the American cowboy persona is part of that masculinization of America that I talked about in my post titled Progressiveness and a Fabricated Man, then it might have backfired. The cowboy persona leaves to the imagination a wide range of possibility as to what he was doing out there in those wide open spaces with his pardner. There are clear homoimplied, to coin a new term, themes with this image, Just ask the Village People! Also, was it really a coincidence that Brokeback Mountain centered around cowboys?