Going To See Brokeback Mountain

By Dorsetta Hale

Motion pictures, theater and literary arts have always been my passion. The work of Montgomery Clift, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Truman Capote and even Rock Hudson spoke to me intimately as a child. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found out they were homosexuals. (Back then, no one I knew said the word “gay” unless referring to a depression era “screwball” comedy about happy rich white people.) The sexuality of the artists I admired didn’t change my opinion of or love for their talent one bit. So it was with great anticipation that I saw the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s based on a short story written by a woman, about two gay ranch hands, co-adapted for the screen by a legendary macho western novelist, starring two A-list straight guys directed by an Asian American family man.

It’s not the kind of movie I could ask my husband to see without bargaining because he gets bored with love stories and detests those that involve adultery. I didn’t have any trouble finding someone to go with, though. John, my coworker, mentioned going to see it first. We’d already been to a couple of movies together, everything on the up and up with my husband. John’s gay and our relationship is strictly platonic although he may be the only man outside of the medical profession who knows my weight and measurements. John and I became close friends through our desire to lose weight. He’d lost 89 pounds last year and it was starting to show. We began walking our dogs along Vallemar, a long winding uphill trail and soon others from work joined us. We make quite a site, a large white guy, two black girls, two white girls and five-mixed breed dogs. People always smile but we know they’re thinking, “Who’s that Mack Daddy?”

We saw “Brokeback Mountain” at the Embarcadero in its third week of release in San Francisco. All shows had been sold out, so we had to reserve tickets in advance. The audience was predominantly male and I’d never seen so many men crying at a movie since “Field of Dreams.” It was a great story and made me think of a time our group came out of another movie and an attractive man looked right past us girls and smiled directly at John, but John couldn’t utter a word. He’s just not there yet.

The following week my daughter and her friends tried to see “Brokeback Mountain,” at Stonestown Theater in the city but the cashier wouldn’t let them in because they weren’t 21. He obviously didn’t think it was appropriate for young people even though they are all seventeen, which is the legal age requirement to see this movie. No clerk had ever asked them to bring an adult with them to see a blood bath on screen, why now for an illicit love story? When I told John about what they’d experienced, he offered to take them himself, but my daughter and her friends were determined to get in on their own. They called the Embarcadero Theater and a staffmember told her that she and her friends would be welcome to see the movie on their own provided they had proof of age. When they were finally allowed to see the movie, they admitted it was worth the indignity of having to show their student body cards.

It’s the type of movie that begs for discussion afterwards, but my daughter was exhausted. It’s a long movie, even without the commercials and Coming Attractions. She didn’t say much accept that many tissues had been passed around. And, she wanted to know if I was going to walk as usual with John the next day.

Copyright 2006, Dorsetta Hale


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