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Angry. Curious. Guilty. That's how I felt after watching the preview of Brokeback Mountain, a movie about a homosexual love affair between Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist.

Ennis, played by Heath Ledger, and Jack, by Jake Gyllenhaal, begin their affair as 19-year-old sheepherders one summer on Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain. Except for telling each other they aren't queer, Ennis and Jack never talk about their sexual involvement, and at the end of the summer, they part ways, marry, and become fathers. Later, they reunite and renew their secret homosexual relationship, which lasts for the next 20 years.

Ennis's wife, Alma, played by Michelle Williams, discovers that her husband and Jack are involved sexually and for years keeps it to herself for the sake of their two daughters. It isn't until she divorces Ennis that Alma tells him she has known all along. Ennis, afraid that others believe he is gay, progressively isolates himself emotionally from everyone but his two daughters and Jack. Eventually, Ennis meets a cute waitress who falls in love with him. Unable to respond to her love, he pushes her away and breaks her heart. Jack is killed a short time later, and Ennis is left with little more than memories of their relationship.

Perhaps if I had known what Brokeback Mountain was about, I would have reacted differently to its preview. During those five short minutes, I unexpectedly relived the bumper-car ride that had been my own secret struggle with homosexuality. That angered me. But I also identified with the bond between Ennis and Jack that seemed to defy who they really were. I, too, had known the forbidden fruit of a secret homosexual relationship when I was in my early ...

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My Dirty Little Former Secret
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April 2006

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