Remember the Rawhide Kid comics when you were a kid? He was the toughest, strongest, fastest, straightest shooting son of a gunslinger ever, and he beat cattle rustlers, indians, and bank robbers, all without mussing up his excellent clothes.
Well now that interesting phenomena is explained in a new examination of the legend. The Rawhide Kid is still the toughest, strongest, fastest, and straightest shooting son of a gun ever, but only his gunplay is straight. That's right, HE'S GAY. And I don't mean that there are a few casual references that taken together might lead one the suspect that maybe he bats for the other team, until 106 issues into the storyline, like some other Marvelites, (I'm talking to you, Jean Paul!) No, its Paul Lind innuendo on every page. And the best part is NO ON GETS IT. Its like telling off colour jokes to your grandparents; half the fun is the confusion it engenders.
The book sends a positive message about being gay; he's the hero, and he's the only one besides the reader who is in on the joke. It builds a feeling of closeness and empathy. He's also the most sympathetic character, with the possible exception of the Sheriff, his love interest. The sheriff has no clue, of course, and is severely in over his head, and its up to the Kid to save him.
The sheriff is a good man, a farmer turned law man, but when desperado's ride into town, he's out classed, and out gunned. To add to his problems, his son has a totally warped view of what it means to be a man. He thinks that a gunfighter, like the Rawhide Kid, is the epitome of what a man should be, but for all the wrong reasons.
So when his father is brave and stands up against evil, he is proud. When his father is shot and humiliated by the desperados, he is mortified.
In steps the Kid. He takes on the job of deputy, cleans up the town, educates the child in real values, saves the sheriff, and gives a little fashion advice to a budding authoress, Laura, who has in mind a book about her "small house on the prairie."
n the end, the Kid does NOT get the girl, er, guy...the girl gets the...well, anyway, the Rawhide Kid rides off into the sunset, alone, just like in the old comics.
The writing is strong, very tongue-in-cheek, with wonderful social and moral lessons writ large, but without being preachy. Its a wonderful book, a great idea, and I just wish it had run longer that six issues. Ah, well, at least it did run, and well before Brokeback Mountain. And it shows a forgotten fact of the west, immortalized by Pansy Division and Willie Nelson in the song, "Cowboys were frequently secretly fond of each other."
Other Gay Friendly Reviews
The Broken Hearts Club
Yaji and Kita: Midnight Pilgrims
Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather (part 2)
Surge of Power
In & Out
Gay Tales of the Samurai
Master of Seacliff
Touch of Pink
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar
Wolves of Kromer
Rocky Horror Picture Show
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality
Lord John and the Private Matter
Lord John and the Hand of Devils
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Torchwood: Season One
Midnighter: Killing Machine
Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather