They’re at film festivals, they’re on the radio, they’re on Netflix—and there’s even more on the way. These days, it feels like queer cowboys (cow-folks?) are everywhere.Now, you may ask, “What in tarnation is going on here?” What’s in the water that, suddenly, it feels like the zeitgeist is chock-full of gay Westerns?Well, the thing is, the genre has pretty much always been gay.

Traditionally, the Western is thought of as the realm of male bravado—hyper-masculine, tough-talkin’, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps type of guys—but all that “yeehaw’ posturing is exactly why so many cowboys, gunslingers, and outlaws in films lend themselves to queer readings.

It’s all such a put-on that it’s easy to sense something gay just beneath the surface.Yes, the frontier has long felt like a conduit for repressed homosexuality.