The Producers star Nathan Lane had some fun with Brokeback Mountain on the Today show last Friday morning, as reported in Lloyd Grove’s “Lowdown” in the N.Y. Daily News. “It’s really when [Heath Ledger] says, ‘This thing gets hold of us the wrong time, the wrong place, we’re dead,'” Lane quipped in front of a reportedly giggling Katie Couric. “I thought, ‘What do you mean, like the A&P? You’re in the middle of nowhere! Get a ranch with the guy! Stop torturing these two poor women and get a room! What’s the problem?'” Gee…none, I guess. The more I think about it, the more I realize Nathan is so right. Those Wyoming gay guys who told New York Times feature writer Guy Trebay that being openly gay in Big Sky country is still a bit of a problem these days…what do they know? One imagines that the ghost of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming student who was beaten to death near Laramie in October 1998, would probably agree with the guys quoted in the Trebay piece (I mean, if you could talk to him in a seance)…but maybe his ghost would be full of shit too. You could argue that the guys whom Trebay spoke to are exaggerating and that open-range homophobia has gotten less dangerous in recent years. But even if you stand with Lane and throw that piece out the window, conditions were certainly threatening for Big Sky gay guys in the rabidly homophobic late ’60s or early ’70s, which is when (as I recall) Ledger’s character mutters his “we’re dead” speech. “Much like the West and the democratic ideal of the cowboy, which helped create the myth of the American frontier and the freedoms it was meant to represent, the movies create fantasies of liberation that don’t always correspond to the world off-screen,” Times film critic Manohla Dargis comments in a 12.18 Times article. “In Brokeback Mountain, Jack and Ennis cling to the myth of the cowboy because it offers a freedom that only really exists when they cling to each other, a freedom that remains contingent even now.” Wait a minute… I see a great Lane vs. Dargis “he said/she said” piece that could run in the Times next weekend. Guys?