The Big Question in Anne Thompson’s “Risky Business” piece about Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain isn’t really answered, so let’s boil some of the snow out. The question is, will the quietly homopho- bic Bubbas out there go for Brokeback Mountain the way they might if they weren’t vaguely weirded out about gay people? And if they don’t, what will this do to the film’s chances of winning the Best Picture Oscar? Thompson quotes Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation spokesperson Damon Romine saying that Brokeback Mountain “is the first film I’ve seen about two men in love, [that’s been] told in a way that straight people can relate to. People don’t have to be gay to understand loss and longing and unrequited love. This is…a film that has tremendous potential to reach and transform mainstream audiences.” Thompson also alludes to “Gallup polls” having stated that “Americans [are] growing increasingly tolerant of homosexuals, but movie audiences have never been confronted with a gay western.” I’m really starting to worry that “gay western” and “gay cowboy movie” is going to stick to Brokeback and hurt it. What Thompson is inferring in her piece is that it’ll be one thing for critics and uptown audiences to support brokeback Mountain, but if the dollars aren’t earned in the theatres across the nation — if Brokeback doesn’t make, let’s say, a good $40 or $50 million — the Academy will fold and vote for another film. I think we live in a moderately homophobic (and racist) culture for the most part, and that what people say to Gallup pollsters and what they really think deep down are two different things. The battle for Brokeback Mountain is just starting and it’s going to be a brawl. It’ll be nominated for Best Picture, certainly…especially given all the supposed Oscar contenders that are falling by the wayside, one after another. But if that goldurned “gay cowboy” expression doesn’t get shut down and kicked out of the room paying movie- goers are going to start turning off before they’ve even seen it, and that won’t be good. Brokeback Mountain is not a gay western and it’s not a gay movie…it really isn’t.