[Marxism] Brokeback Mountain / gay matters / Natives

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Sat Jan 26 12:11:41 MST 2013

The fine film, Brokeback Mountain, with a strong gay rights message, shows up pretty regularly on our TV Dish -- and I gather that it continues to hit the movie houses.  I'm glad to see it enduring so well.  Here is some of our material, with informed comments by others, that we sent forth when the film made its debut.

(This material contains a very brief update on my then open struggle with systemic lupus.  I am happy to continue to report -- 2013 -- that the deadly disease, which I threw off completely in 2011, has not returned.)  H.



Until fairly recently, we had a conventional sub to the New Yorker -- but,
although we continued for a time to give it as a gift to John [Beba] and
Peter [Mack], ours eventually lapsed.  Hence we missed the story, Brokeback
Mountain.  It was not until David McReynold's very well done and quite
favorable film review on one of the Socialist lists last month that I even heard
of it.  Beba had read the story, finding it extremely poignant and moving.
[He is, himself, a solid judge of fiction, has taught it at the university
level and, more to the point, writes very extensively in that genre.  A
novel of his will be appearing early next fall via a New York publisher.
More on that later.]  With these twin recommendations, I searched New Yorker
archives for the piece but could not get to it.  Now, Louis Proyect has
today given us his solid comment -- and, happily, has also provided the key
link to the story itself.  http://ennislovedjack.blogspot.com/

The film is  presently being well advertised on the TV dish thing to which we, with
mixed feeling, continue to sub.  The setting for the story and the film
could be lifted with precision from our region, right here -- and we are
indeed quite close to the Wyoming border.  In addition to cattle and some
mining, summer tourists and winter ski buffs, this area also abounds with
large scale sheep herding.  Commonly seen are covered wagons, herders and
their horses, various kinds of sheep dogs [Great Pyrenees via the Basques,
Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies.]  In addition to our Shelty, we have
an Australian Stumpy Tailed Cattle Dog right here in the next room.  Maria,
who is on the Cattle Dog Discussion List, reports that group is polarized on
the matter of Brokeback Mountain [the dogs of which are Cattle Dogs] and the
moderator is attempting to ban any further pro or con discussion on that

The issue on that list, obviously, is the "gay issue."

In the Native American cultures, homosexuality is almost generally accepted
without a ripple -- and in certain instances special roles of considerable
significance importance-wise are assigned to gays and transsexuals.  This
can include, in some tribal settings, the role of Shaman.

The major mainline Christian denomination in our region [70%], the LDS
[Mormon] Church, officially frowns much on homosexual practices  --  but no
more so than almost all other mainline Christian denominations. The reality
is that -- from what we have seen for many decades in Mormon country --
Mormon gays are usually part of close families, often conventionally attend
congenial ward church services and other gatherings and sometimes not [but
the attendance factor has nothing to do with their gayness.]  The killers of
the kid at Laramie [WY] were certainly not Mormon.  We all who are from the
Mountain West, who know it, and who often live here are certainly aware of
close and congenial Mormon families -- a member of whom happens to be gay.

So we do expect Brokeback Mountain to appear in movie houses here in
Idaho -- including Eastern Idaho.  Present in our setting, as in most other
places in this country, are noisy Christian fundamentalists who are
perennially worried [with little effect] about Halloween.  That keeps them
nicely occupied and many folks hereabouts, I am sure, will come to Brokeback

Hunter Bear


Dave McReynolds writes on January 8  2006:

Dear Hunter,

I hope this finds your health improving, as the days grow gradually longer
and we move toward spring.

How much I enjoyed your comments! Mainly because they were so funny,
something we all need. I admit that I often
go through the New Yorker just for the cartoons, but sometimes find
powerful articles there that don't make it into the
daily papers. (Think back of the "Silent Spring" which appeared in the New

I have to admit the uproar over Brokeback has caught me off guard. I'm
delighted that it has received a wide
audience - because it is a good film, not because it is a gay film. But
yes, also because it is a film about the tendency
of love to leap over the accepted borders.

What I thought funny was the conflict on the Cattle Dog Discussion list!
(The dog in the film was really fascinating
to watch - how smart, how fast!). The film, my brother wrote me, was done
in Canada, but yes, it could just as
easily have been done in your area.

Yes, I have known that homosexuality is treated differently in Native
American culture (though I assume this would
differ from one culture to another - since I don't assume there is "a"
Native American culture). 

All best wishes,

Macdonald Stainsby writes on January 9, 2006:

David Mcreynolds wrote:
  known that homosexuality is treated differently in Native
> American culture (though I assume this would
> differ from one culture to another - since I don't assume there is "a"
> Native American culture). 
> All best wishes,
> David

Yes I actually want to go into this a bit more-- I have found that 
traditionalists who are not poisoned (my experiences are all in nations 
colonized by Canada) by the Christian brainwashing efforts of 
Residential schools speak of the power of the two spirited, but that 
those communities where resistance to Christian brain washing has been 
weaker tend to be VERY homophobic. The dichotomy is very stark indeed, 
in my opinion.

cheers to all.
Macdonald Stainsby


Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] writes on January 9 2006:
As always, we appreciate David McReynolds' warm and supportive words on a
range of quite worthwhile topics -- and his reasonable inquiry about my
health [a very, very brief word on that topic in a moment].  And the
burgeoning and consistently thoughtful discussions on Redbadbear and
elsewhere were and are certainly welcome fare to me -- as I turned in early
last night and was awakened as always at 4 a.m. by our good Cats who clearly
want my strong coffee drinking ritual in the pre-dawn darkness. [Now joined,
I should add, by my welcome resumption of pipe smoking -- my tobacco
purchased from the nearby tax free Shoshone Bannock reservation.]

In a few weeks, I'll turn 72 and, in those many accumulated decades, I do
have, if I say so myself, a great  deal of experience as being an Indian and
moving easily in the socio-cultural settings of a good number of tribal
nations as well as in several major and inter-tribal urban Indian
frameworks.  Through all of this, I have been consistently impressed by the
commendable -- and natural --  fundamentally pervasive Native commitment to
family/clan [or the equivalent of clan]/tribe and all of the basics of the
specific tribal culture involved. [I should add that there are many key
common socio-cultural dimensions across tribal lines.]  Only physical
genocide through European violence and disease -- and that has been true for
many tens of millions of Native people in the Americas since 1500 -- can
wipe out a tribe and its culture.  But through the blood-dimmed centuries,
thousands of inherently sovereign tribal nations and the tangible and
non-tangible dimension of their ways of life continue to survive throughout
the Western Hemisphere.

I agree with Macdonald's thoughtful comments about the frequently corrosive
effects of, say, rigid "Christian" residential schools on Native people --
and I would add [and I am sure he would agree], the negative effects of the
old Bureau of Indian Affairs educational "missions."  In both of those often
unhappy settings, matters have now significantly improved -- owing primarily
to pressure from our Native people and allies of good will.  And instances
of tribally-controlled and grass roots- controlled Native schools and other
service entities are now rapidly increasing.

But however problematic those negative effects from the wrong kind of
"Christians" and the Euro-American governments, I do see those as
comparatively superficial.

Decades ago, late 1940s, in his very moving novel, House Made of Dawn, the
Kiowa writer, N. Scott Momaday wrote broadly in scope:  "They [we] have
assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their
own secret souls; and in this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a
long outwaiting."

A brief health note:  Almost two weeks ago, physicians took and carefully
evaluated five major blood samples from me -- covering all the key combat
zones [e.g., kidneys].  Nothing unusually troubling was noted.  Even though
our primary medic said yet again, "There is no cure for this," our far-flung
family continues to hope that my natural, strong immunity will ultimately
prevail into long-term remission.  In any event, I feel almost "normal" now
in the mornings especially.

I am not fixing to fly away into Bliss.

As Ever, Hunter Bear

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk 
Member, National Writers Union AFL-CIO
(much social justice material)

I have always lived and worked in the Borderlands.

ORGANIZER -- AND AN EFFECTIVE ONE (Mississippi et al.):

The Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child [My Father]:
(Expanded in Fall 2012. Photos. Material on our Native

See the new and expanded/updated edition of my very well-reviewed 
"Organizer's Book" -- the inside story of the massive Jackson
Mississippi Movement, the murder of Medgar Evers, and more.
And with my new and very substantial introduction:

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