I was 14 when Brokeback Mountain was released. I remember the general consensus was that the film was taboo, as kids would giggle and whisper in class, asking one another if they witnessed the groundbreaking sex scene involving two men. Luckily, these days, seeing two men in love is almost the norm. Almost. We have some ways to go, but can thank Brokeback for the huge strides we’ve taken thus far.
10 years ago, the controversial film kicked-started a massive cultural shift that we’re still feeling today. Now it’s almost strange if a show or movie doesn’t recognize the LGBTQ community. Programs like Orange Is the New Black and Modern Family are omnipresent as gay relationships in the media have become more and more mainstream. Many would argue that Brokeback was the force to pry the floodgate open and get the conversation going.
It stands to reason that the younger generations, who were exposed to “alternative lifestyles” at an early age, are more accepting and open-minded to all types of love. But how did our elders feel about the film? Did it make them as uncomfortable as we assume it would? We asked a group of straight, 80+ year-old men, and their insightful, genuine feedback may come as a surprise. Here’s what they had to say when asked to reflect on Brokeback Mountain 10 years later.
“I was 71 in 2005 when the movie Brokeback Mountain was first shown. Through my early years and even today, I consider myself to be basically free of prejudices. Growing up in the New York City area, I paid little attention to differences in race, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. However, being an avid movie fan I was somewhat apprehensive about the potential for the showing of homosexual-related explicit scenes, which I do have a problem in viewing. I did see the film, – enjoyed it immensely and never did feel uncomfortable. In fact, in many ways, I felt that this story had to be shown. Generations of suppressing and ’hiding’ these issues simply had to stop.”
– Sheldon, 81
“Brokeback Mountain was a movie about the relationship between two men. The movie was extremely well done and challenged one to think about those relationships. Both my wife and I enjoyed the movie and were not offended by any of it. We also enjoyed reading the book.”
– Merle, 83
“An aspect of the movie Brokeback Mountain that I found most interesting was the strong homophobic response it evoked from many of my acquaintances whose backgrounds were similar to mine. I would never have anticipated such strong negative responses like ’disgusting’ and ’revolting’ to an honest attraction between two men. I wonder if their response would have been different had the story involved two ballet dancers as opposed to two rugged cowboys. Despite the setting, I saw the movie as an unconventional love story with a sad ending.”
– Larry, 87
“An extraordinary portrayal of two men caught between their mutual sensual attraction and their inability to face living together in the wake of society’s condemnation. One encourages the other to be true to his feelings, but the resulting guilt, fear of discovery and lack of courage results in a later-in-life regret of a ’road not taken.'”
– Terry, 80
Surprised? Enlightened? Delighted? So are we. Give these guys some credit and leave with some warm and fuzzy feels, knowing we aren’t the only ones making progress. Every day, the old-school mindset is becoming more of an ancient artifact.