Gay cowboys: Autry looks beyond 'Brokeback Mountain'
"Brokeback Mountain," the 2005 Oscar-winning film adaptation of the Annie Proulx short story, helped to open the closet door on gay life in the American West. Four years down the road, L.A.'s Autry National Center is taking the next logical (if belated) step by rummaging through that closet and sharing its findings with the public.
"Out West," which kicked off at the Autry on Sunday, will explore the roles of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in frontier history. Over the next 12 months, the museum will host a series of panel discussions, lectures, performances and a gallery tour to highlight some of its historical discoveries.
The museum is still finalizing dates but it said that one installment in the series, set to take place in May, will feature items from the museum's collection that have hidden gay histories, including a set of "buffalo" chairs that date back to the first half of the 19th century.
Gregory Hinton, who conceived and organized the program for the Autry, said that the museum is treading potentially sensitive territory by agreeing to host "Out West." He noted that the museum rejected earlier suggestions for the program's title for being (among other things) too hard-hitting or political.
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-- David Ng
Photo: Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain." Credit: Kimberly French / Focus Features