What Real Cowboys Think of 'Brokeback Mountain'

Dec. 11, 2005 — -- The cowboy -- quiet, independent and decidedly heterosexual -- has endured as one of our most cherished American icons.

Now, a movie that already has generated Oscar buzz may turn that stereotypical belief on its head.

"Brokeback Mountain" is the story of two cowboys in remote Wyoming who fall in love without quite realizing that's what's happened to them. Although it's been labeled a "gay cowboy movie," it's as much about the universal theme of longing and loss.

What do real cowboys think? To find the answer, "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" traveled to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Seven-time world champion cowboy Ty Murray, who is straight, actually welcomes the movie.

"I think it's something that's now just being more understood," Murray said. "Hopefully, this movie helps people further understand it."

But gay cowboys Robert Salcedo and Brian Helander aren't so sure and worry about an increase in homophobia.

"I think it's going to give them reasons to be angry," Helander said, "not so much at the cowboy or the person, but that this exists."

"I would just say that this could set us back a little bit further," Salcedo said.

At a western trade show in Las Vegas, cowboys seemed to suggest that could be the case. One cowboy called it "a bit odd" and another said he wouldn't go see the film.

But women said they'd give it a chance because it's a love story.

Although people don't readily think of gay cowboys, one woman at the trade show said, "You have to kind of look past that and see what the whole story is about."