THE HOMOSEXUAL love affair at the center of "Brokeback Mountain" has sparked no shortage of controversy. But in the midst of the homophobic frenzy, the movie's true offense has been missed.
The film is adapted from a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx. In her story, one of the young "cowboy lovers" is Latino, and in their adaptation, screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana kept the character, Ennis Del Mar, Latino.
The Del Mar movie role went to Heath Ledger, an Anglo from Australia. The role of his wife, Alma, also a Latino in Proulx's story and in the screenplay, went to Michelle Williams. And the role of Latino rancher Joe Aguirre was given to Randy Quaid.
The first American cowboys were caballeros from Spain. In "Guns, Germs and Steel," Jared Diamond contends that the Spaniards were able to conquer what became Latin America primarily because they had horses. Horses, in fact, came to the Americas from Spain.