Bil Browning

Willie Nelson's gay cowboy song

Filed By Bil Browning | February 15, 2006 2:36 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
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Just when you think you're safe. When gay cowboys couldn't attack your pocketbook or lay siege to your brain matter anymore... When all the cartoons and magazines and news shows weren't all-Brokeback all the time anymore... Willie Nelson releases a gay cowboy song. Turns out he'd written it a while back though. But, you gotta jump on that Brokeback train before it can go on to the next mountain.

The song is called "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" and it's only available for iTunes. It's a typical country song - it sounds like Willie Nelson all right. (Yes, I bought the song. I know, I know, you can't be a Brokeback cynic and still buy all the crap. This is different. This is for the blog. I'm taking one for the team...) The lyrics are a scream - although not always in the best taste. (The word "queer" for example is used.)

Sample lyrics: "Well the cowboy may brag about the things he'd done with his women, but the ones who brag the loudest are usually queer." "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to spiff out." and "What did you think all those saddles and boots was about?"

You be the judge.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine's Day.

"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year's Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" made gay cowboys a hot topic.

The song, which debuted Tuesday on Howard Stern's satellite radio show, was written by Texas-born singer-songwriter Ned Sublette in 1981. Sublette said he wrote it during the "Urban Cowboy" craze and always imagined Nelson singing it.


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Hey now... Queer is not a bad word. We are past the eighties. Courses in queer theory... Activist groups use the term queer... Purdue has a queer student union... and I would feel confident in saying that at least this bilerico contributer identifies as queer... and chances are I am not the only one...

BTW - last time I talked to you at length you were pretty queer yourself.

The word "queer" is still considered a "bad word" in some areas. While there is a lot of pushing these days to accept and tame the word, things still aren't that much different from when Queer Nation first appeared and tried to co-opt the word.

It seems to me that "queer" is like "nigger." If an LGBT person likes "queer" and wants to use it to describe themselves, that's just as fine as a black person wanting to call themselves "nigger." However, I don't think either word provides a description that supports the demographic and empowers it. And, for sure, I don't want to hear "queer" from a straight man anymore than black folks want to hear "nigger" from a white person...

I love the word QUEER! I love using the word QUEER. Using the word QUEER makes me feel less marginalized – yet again... LGBT a flippin acronym!

Well, they just opened a new "nigger" studies department.... no wait they didn't. However, queer studies is booming in the academy. The distinction between these terms is that their has been no concerted effort to reclaim nigger by any portion of the black population. Should straight people not be allowed to say the names of college lgbt (now known as queer in college environments) spaces?

Perhaps we are experiencing a generation gap? You are older than me. (pokes bil)

Scott Robertsson | February 16, 2006 11:47 AM

QUEER is a wonderful word, but it's up to each individual to decide if they're okay with it. I'm QUEER but not GAY, and sometimes it's hard to come up with another word that fits. It doesn't matter to me what word people use to describe me, as long as it's used with care and respect.

"Queer" is much more nuanced than "nigger". You do not see "nigger" used in a way that would make its use widespread, such as names of groups. Its use causes too much pain and outrage for it to be reclaimed for general use, any time soon, if ever. There are, admittedly, some limited attempts to reclaim it: African Americans sometimes use it among themselves; its use by others is beyond the pale, except in circumstances such as these when we are discussing why we should not use it.

As Scott says, "queer" is a more general term and more often used, these days, as an inclusive group designator than as an insult. At the recent rally in the Statehouse, when Marcia Neff noted that she had three children, two left handed and one gay, I remarked to John Joanette "They're all queer" and he responded positively.

My sense is that most people consider it less risky than "dyke" and "Dykes on Bikes" recently won the right to use their name specificly by getting the U.S. Patent Office to recognize that "dyke" was no longer only a pejorative term. (I wrote a declaration for the brief in support of their reconsideration URL: http://www.artemama.com/media/dyke_exhibit/exhibit20_foxjr.pdf).

"Queer" can still be used as an insult, and it can offend even when it is not meant to do so, but it is far from the unambiguous insult it once was. That would seem to me to represent progress of a sort.

Bruce Parker | February 16, 2006 3:47 PM

Well said. I don't think i could have said it better myself. In fact, I didn't.