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548                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            tain Penderton in Reflections in a Golden Eye [1967] gets carried away by
            his gay passion on his wife Elizabeth Taylor’s horse. Throughout that film,
            in which Julie Harris cuts off her nipples with the garden shears, fetishist
            Robert Forster, the young Army private after whose privates Brando lusts,
            rides naked, wild, and free. The horse’s eye, the eye of passion, reflects life,
            love, lust, and Liz.
               Gay horseback riding has long been established in a very low-profile
            Los Angeles riding club whose members project a very heavy Marlboro
            Man image. Farther north, riding with a posse of gay men through red-
            woods and down a Mendocino creek bed conjures a galloping sensuality
            of horse-sweat, creaking leather saddles, Levi’s-asses posting in a canter
            of foreplay, crotches pushed up against the horn, looks cast one man to
            another back at the corral, leather reins in gloved hands, uncinching the
            horse, carrying the saddle over the shoulder to the barn, currying down
            the horse, turning him out to graze, and heading toward the hayloft with
            the rider of choice. Such weekends are often arranged out of San Fran-
            cisco. [The reference here is to a famous November 5-7, 1976 run to
            a dude ranch outside the village of Philo in Mendocino County, three
            hours north of San Francisco. It was organized by a certain Earl (surname
            deleted), M. D. who in the 1970s was, out of his Marina home office, the
            main healthcare provider to gay men frequenting Folsom Street baths
            and bars, and the Catacombs. His waiting room was always interesting
            because the other half of his clientele consisted of young Latinas. He was
            a wonderful medical realist and a leading “master of revels.” Another doc-
            tor, Richard Hamilton, M. D. who assisted me in writing my “Dr. Dick”
            for Drummer also appeared in the mid-1970s.]
               Horseback riding, of course, is not all overt sexuality. Gay men, like
            other men, can get into a sport for itself. The triumphant [first] Gay
            Rodeo held in Reno in the fall of 1977 received national press coverage
            and helped establish a positive sports image of gay men as men competi-
            tively capable of traditional American manliness in its best sense. This
            is affirmative gay action. Many gay athletes coming out into sports in
            their twenties or thirties admit to fears of athletics when they were very
            young — fears  of  “pitching  like  a sissy.”  A new  liberated  attitude  now
            allows them to tackle whatever sport they like. People are learning that
            gay is not a synonym for effeminate. No more in sports than in bed is the
            ordinary gay man interested in “playing the passive female role.” In both
            arenas, gay men celebrate their masculinity.
               Masculinity is what really lies behind the gay sports revival.
               Previously, the obvious way to be gay, maybe the only way, say men
            who remember the unhappy days of the 1950s, was skirt-and-sweater
            camp-scream-outrage. Liberation has let real, traditional manliness out

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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