I predicted for 2006 "More bisexuality. The gay phenomenon is so last year." And though Ang Lee, director of Brokeback Mountain, had the acceptable attitude when he said "I didn't know there were so many gay people out there. Everywhere, they turn up," it should be more forthrightly reported that Brokeback Mountain is less a gay cowboy movie than a bisexual cowboy movie. (Or, as the Washington Post calls it with such adult wit, "cowpoke.")
Taking care to couch a possibly objective statement in ritually subjective terms, Lee went on to say: "I think I'm amazed how people everywhere have had the sensitivity to want to get into the complexity of the issue, the probability of love, the illusion of love, all those things. It's not simple things [sic] you can categorize as right or wrong."
Is life so complex that we are hopeless slaves to complexity? Perhaps up is really down, at times of its own choosing. Everything hamstringing the current culture is condensed into Lee's remark. Refraction, the quality of imposing self de-authorization by the internal repetition of fake distances, is on massive display; the first sentence is so encurled in mirror images of itself that the meaning exists fully outside of grammar. Try reducing it to its essence. Strip away "I think," the crowning de-authorizer, and then strip away "I'm amazed," a subjective contextualizer. "People everywhere have had the sensitivity" sounds like the beginning, however awkward, of a real sentence, but the clause is merely another refraction: they get -- no, want to get -- into what? "The complexity of the issue" -- which is provisionally defined first as the "probability" love and then, more revealingly, as "the illusion of love." This is where what Lee is really trying to say is hiding. But the curtain closes with another meaningless refraction: "all those things." Lee finally comes out again "simple things you can categorize as right or wrong."
Of course a director whose metaphysical creed is having cake and eating it too will make a finely crafted bisexual cowboy movie, where the characters are/aren't "macho," are/aren't "married," are/aren't "gay." These are all things that can be said without having seen the movie. (Buy me a ticket and I'll go.) The analytical mode here is a basic statement of facts. Lee might take umbrage at my deconstruction of his grammar, but it's deconstructed to begin with, and nothing yet written here applies any kind of "value judgment." Perhaps you, reader, can agree with what has been written and like it. Perhaps you want to see a movie stocked with people who are/aren't who they are, or appear to be, at a given time. Perhaps you have stocked your life with such people. Perhaps the idea of being "forced" -- by "the government," by "society," by "narrowmindedness," or by "right or wrong" -- out of a perpetually contingent mode of negotiable identity is onerous to you, and for this reason you like Brokeback Mountain or like, on a deeper level, that Brokeback Mountain was made.
But I have read the last sentence in that story,* and if you really want to have cake and eat it you should contemplate the possibility that Proulx is writing less about people who don't want to be forced out but who find themselves being forced in. A culture lives or dies according to what it does with its dilemmas. We are closing in culturally on the moment of celebrating the impossible life, and the iconography of pansexuality, far more than homosexuality, is crucial to that effort of abnegation.
* "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."