Bush priests wary of Brokeback Mountain

The 'gay cowboy' film Brokeback Mountain has triggered tensions in southern NSW country towns since it started screening last week.

ABC Riverina reports that several priests from the Wagga Wagga District in the Riverina have condemned the film, which tells the love story of two gay cowboys, and they have urged people not to see it.

But their stance has angered some locals who say it is hard enough being gay in the country, without religious leaders fuelling the prejudice.

Set in 1963, Brokeback Mountain starring Australia's Heath Ledger, is the story of two gay cowboys who struggle to come to grips with their forbidden love.

But on the day the film finally opened in the Riverina, two priests urged the locals to avoid it, suggesting it was promoting a gay lifestyle.

One was 34 year old Fr Brendan Lee from the parish of Our Lady of Fatima in South Wagga, who said that the film glorifies homosexuality.

He told the ABC that it fails to present the both sides to being gay and claims the film could influence young people.

"In going to the homosexual lifestyle, you're setting yourself up for disappointment," he said. "The pool of romance will always be limited - because there is a great number who are not homosexual - and you'll never have children."

But many of the locals have been angered by the comments, and say the film shows how hard life is growing up gay in a country town. Wagga Charles Sturt University drama lecturer Ray Goodlass argues that the film does not glorify homosexuality, but presents the love story as a tragedy.

He said: "One character - the one played by Heath Ledger - leads a very sad, lonely, repressed life, and the other character is bashed and killed because of his sexuality.

Fr Lee admits that he has not seen the film himself, but is considering seeing it, following pressure from members of the community.

'Brokeback' sets Wagga tongues wagging (ABC Riverina 24/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Brokeback Mountain
Diocese of Wagga Wagga

Wagga priest urges people not to see 'Brokeback Mountain' (ABC Radio The World Today 24/2/06)
Participants at Rome seminar warn gay marriage poses risk to children (Catholic News Service 24/2/06)
Pontifical institute holds seminar on homosexuality (Catholic World News 24/2/06)
Polish Bishops: Defense of Marriage Isn't "Homophobia" (Zenit 3/2/06)
John Heard: Fear not and feel the love (The Australian 30/1/06)
Fr Peter Malone: Films: Brokeback Mountain; Jarhead; Munich; The New World (Independent Catholic News 13/2/06)
Fr Richard Leonard SJ: Brokeback Mountain (Australian Catholic Film Office)
'Brokeback Mountain' attacked by Christian groups (ABC Radio PM 10/1/06)
USCCB Changes Rating on Brokeback Mountain to Morally Offensive (LifeSite 16/12/05)
USCCB reclassifies gay Western "Brokeback Mountain" after complaints (Catholic News Agency 17/12/05)

27 Feb 2006