28 November 2015

Movie Review: Queens and Cowboys

This is a documentary about the American West and Midwest and gay people who stay in these non-urban areas of the United States. From the average age of participants, it appears that the gay rodeo scene developed as a rural alternative to urban gay life in the age of AIDS in the United States. There is a segment about how "gay" cowboys are rejected by the dominant rodeo association(s) and that rodeo staff at the gay rodeos who contract to work each rodeo they work at, were shy to be identified on camera because the non-gay rodeo managers will refuse to hire them.

It's an interesting take on the real life between urban gay America and Brokeback Mountain. One of the things that struck me was the discussion about how gay rodeos are in decline because the membership ages but does not recruit enough younger people. It reminded me of Robert Putnam's discussion of "social capital" in the United States. More people bowl in the United States than before, but bowling league membership has declined. Putnam argues that civic engagement in the United States suffers as people become more isolated and less social.

Without getting to much into Putnam's argument, the notion of doing gay rodeo would seem to be eclipsed by the increase in digital penetration in rural America. All of the risks and limitations of identifying with such a group are eliminated when interactions are limited to chatrooms and hook up apps.

I thought the documentary was very information. I learned a lot about the United States and people in the West and Midwest.

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