My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, But…

My heroes have always been cowboys like Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger and Sheriff Matt Dillon.  I loved the good guys back in the days when they were easy to identify.   Brave men who stood tall against  villains with black mustaches curling oddly around snarling lips – those were the best.   I wanted to be one of them.   You could have your Superman with his Big S on his chest but seriously, who would go flying around in an outfit as tight as his?   Come on, man.   That wasn’t believable.   Cowboys, on the other hand, rode beautiful horses and wore boots with their jeans or buckskin pants and had great wide-brimmed hats and no worries about kryptonite.   Their pretty girlfriends knew who they were and were prepared to wait for them while they fought their battles in the dusty streets and sage-covered hills.   They always won because they could outdraw or outsmart their enemies.   It was a perfect world.

Sixty years later I still love my cowboys and living in Texas again is a strong reminder of their mystique in the Lone Star State of my birth.  The folklore that surrounds them and the  expectations of Hollywood happy endings in the midst of the vicissitudes of life have inspired me during good times and bad.   Thanks, guys.

Life is about change, though, and I’ve had new heroes who don’t ride horses or wear six-shooters on a regular basis.   The Famous Heroes are household names and not surprisingly for a lesbian: women.   I could list fifty of them, but I’ll name ten.    Susan B. Anthony.   Gertrude Stein.   Barbara Jordan.   Gloria Steinem.   Geraldine Ferraro.   Ann Richards.   Molly Ivins.   Eudora Welty.   Meryl Streep.   Ellen DeGeneres.   These are the activists and authors and actors whose courage stands out to me.   The villains may not have mustaches any more but these women met them at some point in their lives and stood up to them through their words and actions.   You’ll be able to name your own Famous Heroes if you think about it for a minute.

And then think about the Unfamous Ones – those heroes who are often unsung.   You know them.   They are the women and men who’ve lost children, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers and parents along the way and have kept moving forward in spite of their losses.   They are the parents who’ve encouraged their children to better themselves through education and who’ve put their money where their mouth is and paid that costly college tuition and room and board and books and hoped their kids would have better opportunities than they did.   The villains aren’t necessarily people any more, either.   Cancer, alcoholism, drug addiction, Alzheimer’s, divorce, betrayal,  politics at work, corporate greed, financial difficulties,  the Me First Culture of selfishness and self-centeredness are a few of the villains we may face today.   Our six-shooters don’t have enough ammunition sometimes when we fire away at these outlaws but our Unfamous Heroes don’t give up and find within themselves the strength to stand and deliver.

If you live long enough, you’ll figure out the world isn’t perfect and you’ll definitely meet some nasty villains, but remember you aren’t alone in the battles.   Your heroes have gone before you.   May the spirits of those heroes ride with you and give you comfort and encouragement in the showdown moments of your life.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Life, Random, Reflections, The Way Life Is and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, But…

  1. Robyn says:

    Beautifully written, Sheila. And you are so right about who the villains are today…I’m more concerned about those than any individual I can think of.


  2. Thanks, Robyn…you’re one of my heroes.


  3. Sheila go says:

    I have been reading and loving your words. You are one of those heroes to many a woman!


  4. Millie says:

    As usual you at your very best…you are one of my hero’s and always will be.


  5. Bob says:

    Can’t believe I used to pay a mere 9 cents to get into the Saturday matinees starring Roy and Gene and others. The bus ride to town and back was 5 cents each way. So of course we walked there and back. Used the ten cents saved to buy candy at the movie (five cents a bar). That left me change from the quarter I started out with. Those were the days. .


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