American Cowboy | Chicago Reader

American Cowboy

Christian Haren, who once appeared on TV as the Marlboro Man, was a fixture in San Francisco's Castro district when Nancy Kates interviewed him for her short video Castro Cowboy (1993). Still fit and trim, he'd had AIDS for seven years and was relishing his role as a lecturer on safe sex—though he does declare, “I don't want to be admired. I want to get laid.” Far more polished and informative is Kyle Henry's video American Cowboy (1997), an affectionate, angst-free portrait of a 39-year-old professional rodeo rider named Gene, who's from a small town in south Texas. Gene and his boyfriend Stephen come across as regular guys—chatting with friends, coping with Gene's broken leg and the death of his favorite horse, discussing the consequences of coming out and getting married. Their life on the circuit culminates with a gay rodeo where Gene grabs the brass ring despite having one leg in cast—a victory Henry equates with his overcoming other handicaps.

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