some open space

February 19, 2006 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Movies, Raves, The Arts, the L word | Leave a comment

Song of the Moment: Comfortable, John Mayer
To Do (tasks, not people): rest
Current State: weak from the fever
~~~~~~~~~~

“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it and if you can’t fix it, you’ve got to stand it.”
– from Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx



Brokeback Mountain is all about the locational politics of same sex relationships. Where does it happen, and how, and who makes it happen and who puts it there?

Wrong place, wrong time, it seems, in the most brazen of terms. Jack and Ennis are reduced to occassional trysts in a sanctuary where they can be with who they really want to be with. Because everytime they went down from Brokeback they had to go back to a life that while I don’t think was any less fake, wasn’t what fulfilled them either.


But because being up in Brokeback feels like getting sucked into an entirely different universe, they are, in Jack’s words reduced to having “high-altitude fucks 3 or 4 times a year”. Not only because Ennis isn’t settled with himself (and remains that way until the end) but also because there is no place for this set-up in Wyoming in 1963, in much the same way there is no place for it anywhere today.

Straight society will put up with the reality of these relationships only insofar as it doesn’t have to witness firsthand, its expression. Perhaps worse than hatred is the condescension that comes from people saying it’s okay to live with homosexuals for as long as they do their business somewhere else.

That’s the problem Jack and Ennis had back in the fictional milieu they lived within in 1963. That’s the same prejudice that gay people still have to contend with today. Straight society will more or less “recognize” the existence of gay relationships, but it doesn’t want to see it.

What is needed to break through the thick layers of prejudice that society has imposed on gay relationships is to assert “some open space” for the expression of a love that is just as valid as what we see between any other pairs. The woman sitting a chair away from me said “sick” under her breath in the early scene where Jack pulls Ennis’s hand into his pants. it is highly doubtful whether she would say the same thing if it were a woman’s breast Ennis was fondling. So indeed, bigotry is alive and kicking. And Ennis was wrong when he said “if you can’t fix it you gotta stand it” — the most memorable line in that movie, and not the other one you hear on the trailer. Gay people don’t have to stand it, because it can and should be fixed.

Because for bigots, gay relationships belong somewhere distant and out of sight. Some place far-off like Brokeback Mountain. Any place except their own backyards. But straight society will never fix it. It’s the one that has to stand it, get used to it. And this love should be asserted and not quarantined into our own private Brokebacks.

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