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Was Bronco Henry From ‘The Power of the Dog’ a Real Cowboy?



With The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion makes her triumphant return to the director’s chair after over a decade — and this time, she’s made a Western. The film follows Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), a cowboy who owns a ranch with his brother George (Jesse Plemons). When George meets and marries Rose (Kirsten Dunst), Phil subjects her queer-coded son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to taunts and ridicule. But Phil has a secret that explains his malice: his onetime relationship with Bronco Henry, his late mentor. Phil keeps Bronco’s memory alive by regaling all who’ll listen with stories about his skills on horseback — and, in more private moments, by caressing Bronco’s monogrammed handkerchief.

Movies like The Power of the Dog and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain shed light on queerness in the West, a long-overlooked aspect of American history. Below, a brief overview of the queer history that inspired The Power of the Dog, and how Bronco Henry fits into it.

Bronco Henry isn’t based on a single historical figure.

There isn’t one particular cowboy who inspired the Power of the Dog character, but that doesn’t mean Bronco is anachronistic. For as long as there have been cowboys, there have been queer cowboys.

There’s a history of same-sex relationships among cowboys in the American West.

It’s taken awhile for popular culture to catch onto the West’s queer history, but historians and experts have long known about it. Alfred C. Kinsey noted in his famous Sexual Behavior in the Human Male that rural communities in America had the “highest frequency” of queer relations, writing, “..there is a fair amount of sexual contact among the older males in Western rural areas … Today it is found among ranchmen, cattle men, prospectors, lumbermen, and farming groups in general — among groups that are virile, physically active. These are men who have faced the rigors of nature in the wild … Such a background breeds the attitude that sex is sex, irrespective of the nature of the partner with whom the relation is had.”

Peter Boag, a history professor of the American West at Washington State University and author of Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest, notes that many Western, all-male societies subverted gender roles out of necessity. In an interview on the subject, Boag explained, “In all-men societies, it was not unusual for same sex relationships, and it was just an acceptable thing to do. People engaged in same sex activities weren’t seen as homosexuals.”

Other books, such as Queer Cowboys: And Other Erotic Male Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature by C. Packard and Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade by William Benemann, also provide insight to the lives of queer cowboys, in fiction and beyond.

The West was also home to trans and gender-nonconforming people.

Some cowboys, like the famed One-Eyed Charlie, were assigned female at birth but lived as men. “My theory is that people who were transgender in the East could read these stories that gave a kind of validation to their lives,” Boag told Atlas Obscura. “They saw the West as a place where they could live and get jobs and carry on a life that they couldn’t have in the more congested East.”

There were also trans women who lived in the West, like Mrs. Nash, who worked as a laundress for the Seventh Cavalry in Montana in the mid-1800s. She married three different men during her time working for the cavalry.

It’s also important to note that many cowboys were people of color.

Rebecca Scofield, a history professor at University of Idaho, notes in her book Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the American West that “for many, the cowboy has always been [Black] and gay.” Many cowhands in the 1800s were working-class men of color, including both enslaved and free Black men, as well as Indigenous, Creole, and Mexican people. “These classed and racialized realities of working cowboys were present in early versions of western performance, even as the figure of the cowboy steadily became whitewashed by Jim Crow segregation and mythologized in dime novels, Wild West shows, and early rodeo,” she writes.

Scofield goes on to reference more contemporary examples, such as rapper Lil Nas X’s 2019 song “Old Town Road” and the criticism he faced as a queer Black person paying homage to country music. “Yet as this young man is inundated with both praise and vitriol, told that he is either destined to be forgotten or represents the future, he should not be made to feel alone — the history of the cowboy is the history of black, gay cowboys,” Scofield explains.

Gay cowboys are still very much a thing.

Last year, The Guardian published an article exploring the contemporary world of queer cowboys, and in particular the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), along with a series of portraits taken by photographer Luke Gilford for his project “National Anthem.” The IGRA held its first gay rodeo in the mid-’70s, and the organization is still going strong today — as of last year, it boasted 15 chapters across the US, along with one in Canada.

Gilford also explained to i-D that the IGRA is a “safe space” for both queer people and allies. It offers educational programs and rodeo competitions for men, women, and trans people, which are designed to help participants refine their athletic skills and to promote integrity, self-confidence, and communal support. The organization also gives queer cowboys an opportunity to connect with others in the LGBTQ+ community, including BIPOC queer people, who have been historically unwelcome in the “almost exclusively Caucasian mainstream rodeo circuit.”

One of the reasons why Gilford started this project was to show that while queer cowboys continue to face unfair and unequal treatment, not everything is enveloped in tragedy. “This community does know joy, and they know it because they have survived the trauma of being queer in rural America. We often think of survival as something that just happens to us, or that we are blessed with,” Gilford explained. “But through creating this work I came to think of survival as more of a deliberate political and creative force. It requires constant work to sustain and protect against all odds.”


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Cassidy Timbrooks on ‘The Bachelor’ Isn’t the Villain You Think She Is



I knew Cassidy Timbrooks was going to be eliminated from The Bachelor the second she addressed a table full of children as “you small people.”

But it wasn’t until Clayton Echard learned she had a “friend with benefits” back home that her number came up. The Bachelor rescinded the rose he had already given her and predictably sent the 26-year-old executive assistant packing on Monday night’s episode.

In the eyes of the show, she had committed two cardinal sins: Not acting overjoyed to be around kids, and not putting her sex life on pause for a man she had never met.

That’s why her ride home from the mansion was more than just another early villain exit. The Bachelor is clearly trying to get back to basics this year — and by basics I mean American sexual politics circa 2002. The fact that Cassidy got the boot so swiftly shows how quickly the show is returning to its traditional roots. In an era of dating apps and delayed motherhood, ABC’s long-running reality dating franchise is recommitting in Clayton’s season to its core tenets: Love, marriage, and family — preferably before age 30.

In the eyes of the show, she had committed two cardinal sins: Not acting overjoyed to be around kids, and not putting her sex life on pause for a man she had never met.

Only against that backdrop would a woman like Cassidy strike anyone as an outlier. Outside of the show, she doesn’t exactly seem nefarious. Since the premiere aired, I have been following her on Instagram, where she’s been posting incredibly lucid and self-aware reflections about her time on The Bachelor, conceding in one of her Stories that she struggled to balance “confidence” with “considering other people’s takes.”

Indeed, like so many hated contestants before her, Cassidy appears to have been the victim of a selective edit and a mocking soundtrack. The unflattering edit began in earnest when she largely ignored the children at a birthday party group date to talk with the Bachelor instead. At one point, seated around a table sipping tea, she told a group of kids, “I spend as little time around you small people as possible, so forgive me…” and then immediately went on the back foot as they latched onto the comment.

I don’t blame the kids for taking offense. But any adult viewer who paid attention to her tone should have recognized the droll delivery. Was it an inartful thing to say? Sure. Children aren’t the right audience for wry humor, especially if you’re joking about avoiding them. But Cassidy didn’t deserve to be demonized as a kid hater, either.

“I knew I was giving villain, but I thought I was far more amusing and harmless,” she wrote in one of her post-show Instagram Stories, “and I think a lot of the hate is based in misogyny internalized and otherwise.”

She’s not wrong. Cassidy was punished, both in the edit and by a segment of the audience, for not going googly-eyed at the notion of spending an afternoon building a dollhouse. She certainly didn’t echo the enthusiasm of a fellow contestant who saw the kids from afar and exclaimed, “Oh my God! I’m so excited! I love children!” while running toward them.

The Bachelor is retreating to an extremely white, hyper-hetero comfort zone in which babies are the ultimate goal.

To be fair, that attitude is more in line with Clayton’s. In the first five minutes of the current season, the new Bachelor was twice moved to tears by the thought of raising a family. He introduced himself in the opening voiceover by saying, “I can’t wait to get married and have kids,” and later choked up while reading a letter from a child predicting that he will “have lots of kids.”

Clayton is nothing if not sincere, but there’s probably a reason the producers picked someone like him in the first place — and why they’re emphasizing childrearing so much this early. After years of controversy over racism in the franchise, culminating in the departure of ex-host Chris Harrison — and after more recent flirtations with progressive casting including the first same-sex engagement, a (gasp!) 39-year-old Bachelorette, and several leads of colorThe Bachelor is retreating to an extremely white, hyper-hetero comfort zone in which babies are the ultimate goal.

I used to wonder whether the horror novel I wrote satirizing Bachelor-style shows would be outdated by the time it comes out later this year, but if anything, this season has felt ripped out of time in the worst way.

Cassidy’s storyline especially has highlighted double standards that should be long dead by now. Clayton himself recently addressed viral TikToks about his dating history by saying that he “enjoyed [his] singleness” for “the last six years of my life.” This is the same Bachelor who confronted Cassidy on Monday night’s episode about allegedly “seeing someone up until the point that you came here,” as though she were beholden to him before then. Hookups for me but not for thee?

Presented in the weird logic of the show, you’d almost forget that Cassidy is one of 30 women Clayton dated simultaneously — and that, in season previews, the Bachelor will later admit to being “intimate” with two contestants. Somehow that behavior is more “for the right reasons” than having casual sex with someone before filming even began?

Cassidy may be off the air now, but her brief run was telling. This throwback edition of The Bachelor needed a villain, and the producers chose a confident woman with a history of casual dating who said “F*ck a dollhouse” on camera. It’s probably a bad sign when someone that refreshing doesn’t make it to the second rose ceremony.


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Another Day, Another Musk Tweet Pumps Dogecoin up 9%



Musk, who is the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said he would eat a Happy Meal on TV if Fast food giant McDonald’s starts accepting Dogecoin

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Everything You Need to Know About the UK Government’s COVID Inquiry



On May 12, 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an independent public inquiry into the government’s response to and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Established under the Inquiries Act 2005, the COVID Inquiry will examine the government’s “actions as rigorously and candidly as possible,” according to the Prime Minister, and will aim to “learn every lesson for the future.” It will do so by summoning the production of documents and witnesses to give evidence under oath in order to examine the government’s response to the pandemic.

Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE will act as Chair of the inquiry, which is set to begin “sometime in spring 2022”. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the COVID Inquiry and what we can expect from the process.

How Will The COVID Inquiry Work?

According to BBC News, the Chair of the Inquiry can call whoever they want to give evidence, “whether they are witnesses to an event or people with particular expertise.” As barristers’ chambers Doughty Street Chambers notes, witnesses to an event will be asked to give evidence of their experience or direct knowledge of what took place. They speak on behalf of an organisation, like the NHS or the police.

Evidence sessions will be given in public and under oath, per BBC News, and most sessions will be available to watch on TV and online. There’s no time limit to the inquiry either, and they can often take years due to the “huge amount of evidence that needs to be read.”

What Will Be Included In The COVID Inquiry?

The exact aims, issues, and remits included won’t be announced until closer to the start of the inquiry, but the Prime Minister has said his government would work closely with the devolved administrations and governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland before setting out what exactly will be included in the inquiry itself.

Shortly after announcing that an inquiry would take place, the Prime Minister told MPs that the inquiry would consider his government’s handling of the pandemic before the first lockdown in March 2020, per The Guardian. As for other issues, law firm BDB Pitmans suggests that the higher death rate in general, especially among ethnic minority groups, will be a major point of contention, as well as the government’s “procurement processes” of contracts awarded during the pandemic.

What Issues Have Been Raised Around The COVID Inquiry?

Undocumented Migrants

Following the publication of a report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), it’s vital that the voices of undocumented migrants are properly heard during the COVID inquiry. The report found that the UK “lagged far behind other European countries” in protecting undocumented migrants during the pandemic.

Caitlin Boswell, author of the report and policy officer at JCWI, said in a statement that if the government “wants to learn lessons” from this inquiry and “fully recover from the pandemic”, it needs to “stop prioritising its anti-immigration agenda above saving lives.” An anti-immigration agenda which is more commonly known as the Hostile Environment.

The term “Hostile Environment” is used by many to describe a set of policies that are intended to block undocumented migrants from using public services like the NHS and the police, as well as making work and housing inaccessible; effectively making life as difficult as possible.

Boswell added that the government “must listen to migrants’ voices, including those who’ve lost status, and ensure that in the future, no-one has their life put at risk because of their immigration status.” Boswell concluded that in “doing so will not only protect the most marginalised, it will help protect all of us.”

People With Disabilities

Sense, a charity which focuses on complex disabilities, has also called for the government to take the experiences of disabled people and their families into account. As the charity notes, 6 out of 10 people in the UK who have died from COID are disabled, despite making up 22 per cent of the general population.

“Decision-makers did not engage with us, our needs were often overlooked and communications were largely inaccessible,” Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy for Disability Rights UK, explained. “Health bodies treated our lives as less valued, disabled people receiving social care were inadequately protected, some disabled children were denied education and support, and supermarkets failed to ensure that we could access food.”

There is yet to be a date announced or confirmed for the COVID Inquiry.

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