The Ultimate Brokeback Forum


Were They Gay?

456 (65%)
30 (4.3%)
Jack was, Ennis wasn't
118 (16.8%)
They were bi
97 (13.8%)

Total Members Voted: 655

Author Topic: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)  (Read 891122 times)

Offline Dave Cullen

  • Author/Journalist
  • Administrator
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 7042
  • Founder, Editor
    • Columbine
Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« on: December 24, 2005, 12:39:20 AM »
Feel free to discuss this in main discussion, but for those who want to delve deeper, or keep at it or make sure you are heard on this topic, go at it here.

I'll kick it off with my opinion. Gay? God yes.

Update, Jan 8, 2005:

Two things:

I have been asked to

1. expand the question to: were they gay, straight or bisexual?

2. define gay.

Both reasonable requests. I should have included the bi option to start. I added it to the poll--feel free to change your vote if you wanted that option before but it was missing.

Well, 300+ posts in is a bit late for a definition, and you're all free to define it any way you like, but what I meant by gay was: Is the guy primarily attracted to men, sexually (i.e., much more toward men than women).

I use it synonomously with homosexual, a word rarely used in ordinary conversation these days. I had assumed gay had more or less replaced it. I definitely wasn't referring to how masculine vs. effeminate they were, or how they self-identified. I'm interested in what we think they really were inside, not what they were or were not willing to admit out loud at any point in their lives.

I was kind of stunned to see how many definitions of gay are running around out there. That was an eye opener. I've learned a lot.

You're free to use my definition or reject it and discuss our boys in terms of another.

Since I'm here, though, a few more words on the definitions that have come up:

I was particlarly taken aback to hear that Kinsey defined sexuality in terms of behavior, instead of attraction. Very foolhardy. Like Freud, he hurtled the field infinintely forward, but the disadvantage of starting from almost zero is you're likely to get a hell of a lot wrong. Kinsey was a scientist and adamant about looking at sexuality scientifically, like other natural phenomena. If you just measured how much a person was doing something, you could rank them on a scale. How silly was that? Especially when dealing with a taboo: why on earth would he think most people would be acting the way they wanted to? If a closted homo who craves men men men gets married to a woman and never strays but never likes it, behavior would classify that guy as a 0, fully straight. Assinine.

Which is what this film is all about, right? People driven one way by their own instincts, pulled another by society. We know what society made Jack and Ennis do. It seems to me the question is: what were their real drives?
« Last Edit: May 16, 2006, 06:34:45 AM by peteinportland »

Offline lightsrays05

  • Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 389
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2005, 04:21:03 PM »

Why wouldn't they be gay?

Because the present press don't want to say that's a "gay love story"?

One wanted to commit to the other until his death.

The other didn't want to commit to anyone else after his first marriage.

Of course they were gay. And there is NOTHING wrong with them being gay.

Offline STeve25430

  • Getting Acquainted
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2005, 05:30:02 PM »
I think it is probably easy to say Jack was Gay. I would also say Ennis was gay but he did not know it, at least not at first  Now some people might say how could you not know it?   But then thats another story.....

Offline peteinportland

  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 2063
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2005, 09:33:48 PM »
Hmmm...I am not sure I have decided about Ennis. Jack is a definite yes.

There are many (our members among them) who want this relationship to be something that happened out of the blue TO these two guys who became best buddies on BBM.  I have seen many reviewers describe their relationship as a relationship that suddenly changes in the course of one night without any advance notice or foresight on behalf of the two participants. These people see the beautiful love story of a sudden, unexpected love that lasts a lifetime, and do not really think the gay or straight label apply. I think for them, Jack and Ennis were caught up in a love storm not of their own making and that the beauty of it is that gender, sexuality, experience, everything, goes out the window in the face of true love. This is a story of love transcendent. Does that make sense?

Personally, I don't have any deep need for them to be gay, and I am ambivalent about Ennis' sexuality. I do know this: those two men sure did love one another. For now, that is all I really need to know.


« Last Edit: December 24, 2005, 09:37:26 PM by peteinportland »

Offline BillN

  • Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2005, 09:55:05 PM »
The question isn't that pertinent as the term gay has only come into widespread use in the last two decades, and has a number of connotations that narrow its scope. I think if the question was were they homosexuals or bi-sexuals, you'd say yes. Were they into a "gay" lifestyle? No - it didn't exist outside of a few large cities then.

Offline Melisande

  • Chief Moderator
  • Obsessed
  • ******
  • Posts: 9603
    • LiveJournal
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2005, 10:43:34 PM »
What BillN said. I think part of the confusion over this (and I include what Jake and Heath have said in that) is over the meaning of "gay". It's a modern term.

And then there's that "love transcending all boundaries" thing. I guess it can happen - we've had at least one poster who told his own story about that - but it's rare, and rare doesn't make for a universal story.

I think they were both gay, meaning, sexually and romantically attracted to men. Maybe they could engage in relations with women, but their true passion was for each other. I read once (in Dan Savage), that that's the true measure of your sexuality - who you fall in love with. Frankly, I'm baffled by those who think they weren't gay.   
let be, let be

Offline BillN

  • Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 506
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2005, 11:03:26 PM »
Melisande, some good points. My take on the gay/bi/straight orientation is Jack was attracted to men in general, while I think Ennis wasn't. There wasn't anything in either the short story or the movie that indicated to me that Ennis ever looked at another man, while we know Jack did.

Offline chiaros

  • Experienced
  • ***
  • Posts: 163
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2005, 05:32:11 AM »
There was a lot of, umm, spirited discussion on the previous boards on whether they were gay or not.  As Melisande has also pointed out here, the term "gay" is a modern construct, and unlikely to be used in Wyoming back in the sixties.

Yes, Jack was innately homosexual to me; Ennis probably so although it is not so clear there.

The problem, as always, lies in our trying to label and pigeonhole people.  There is also a lot of baggage associated with the term 'gay', to many people...not JUST male-male attraction/desire (I use the term in the more common form nowadays, with female-female attraction described as 'lesbian').  Even people who fiercely insist that if a man is attracted to another man then he is gay, seem to agree that aspect should be viewed as only ONE part of the whole person...otherwise what's the difference between, say, Andrew Sullivan and Larry Kramer? (After all, they are both gay, they both are sexually attracted to they're the same, right?)

Was Jack the only man that Ennis desired?  The story says that, although it also described Ennis looking at other men on the street (there was also discussion about that - versus looking at men in church, say)  Does that mean that Ennis would or could desire another man, perhaps in the future? Don't know....


Offline MarcoRoss

  • Getting Acquainted
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2005, 08:07:58 AM »
This whole "were they gay" question is unanswerable.  Not because they weren't by our standards today.  They were. But because we have no idea  what scientists will ultimately conclude about sexuality.  Is one "gay" or can one perform "gay" acts and not be.
Was Lincoln gay? I think the evidence points to him having atleast two intense same sex physical relationships in his life.  But he wasn't "gay" because the concept didn't exist in 1860.  Nor did "straight."
We have no idea how sexuality will be viewed 50 years from now.
So, as I said, we don't know if they were "gay" or were merely two people of the same sex who fell deeply in love with each other. Maybe that exists.  Who knows? 

However, for the purposes of 2005, and being unable to know or imagine how these issues will be viewed in 2105, the answer is "yes." Two men who have consensual sex with each other and prefer it to sex with women are gay.  What else could you call it?

Offline Wayman Wong

  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 883
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2005, 08:33:45 AM »
On ''Charlie Rose,'' this is what Heath Ledger had to say: ''[Marrying] his wife was [Ennis] conforming to tradition. It was never a true love. [Ennis and Jack] is purely a story of two souls. Before Jack came into his life, I don't think [Ennis] ever conceived of being with another man or looked at another man. For that matter, I don't think he was attracted to women, either; maybe more so than Jack. ... Essentially, the story of Ennis is: He's a homophobic man in love with another man.''

Offline doodler

  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 15461
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2005, 02:35:19 PM »
Love happens, usually when you least expect it and often with the last person you'd choose for yourself. The brave take it where they find it while the rest of us make excuses.
In 2010, 606 people (all ages) were accidentally killed by guns.
Almost 3000 teens (15-19) die in traffic accidents a year.
1100 kids under 19 drown each year.
44 kids under 5 died of heat stroke in hot cars in 2013.
HIGH school sports account for 1.2 million trips to the ER annually.

Offline Kevin

  • Feet Wet
  • **
  • Posts: 36
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2005, 04:23:17 PM »
If I'm remembering correctly, the book was more explicit.  I think there was a conversation in which Ennis says that while he enjoys sex with women, he prefers sex with men (or Jack).  But forget the sex part for a minute and think of love.  I know that I am gay even though I haven't had sex for a few years.  But I want to fall in love with a man.  Ennis never loved a woman and it appeared that he was incapable of loving a woman.  Ennis loved Jack.  Ennis was gay.  Jack is easy; it is clear that throughout his adult life at a minimum he would greatly have preferred to be in love with a man.  He just enters the marriage he "can do over the phone" because he doesn't see other options and because of social pressure.

By the way, my dad was a Jack.  He finally divorced my mom around the time the movie ended and moved to the midwest with his new partner.  They've been together ever since.


  • Guest
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2005, 06:23:44 PM »
I so hate the labels: bi/straight/gay......they were human beings who found true love....if I was forced to "label".....i'd bet money that they were Bisexual.

Offline Ranchgal

  • Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 526
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2005, 07:00:52 PM »
I tend to feel that way too.   And I have a problem with people deciding that Ennis never loved Alma, The fact is he never loved Alma with the heartfelt intensity with which he loved Jack.
But considering  that he was engaged to Alma before he ever met Jack or had anything to compare feelings against--HE loved Alma too.  And he didn't stop loving her, he just couldn't be happy with her after he found Jack.
I really think he did love Alma, and he loved her first, or he never would have gotten far enough along in his feelings to actually get engaged, and be thinking of forever.
I got this from the book, as I haven't been able to see the movie yet.

Offline mountain boy

  • Cowpoke
  • Obsessed
  • *****
  • Posts: 8453
  • Thou not speakest thy truest love
Re: Were they gay? (Jack & Ennis)
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2005, 09:03:39 PM »
Gay? Yes! And absolute proof that Jack is not strictly the bottom: the combine that he drives around in with his 8-month old son is labeled V E R S A T I L E