Badger Clark is remembered for shaping the poetry of the Old West with striking impressions of the cowboy life. But his poem “The Lost Pardner” about the intimate love of two cowboys has a special kind of beauty. It points to the often forgotten queerness of frontier life, where there was plenty of space to be alone and plenty of cowboys to be alone with.
Badger Clark wasn’t the only one out there. Queer fur trappers, stagecoach drivers, European explorers, and poets, like Clark, made their way out west looking for the freedom of a new context. And for many of them, that’s what they found.