It’s midsummer in Cheyenne and things are heating up due to it being an election year. Kurtis ‘Ricky’ Thornton is running for election for Laramie County Sheriff. The only thing separating him from the others is the fact he’s gay and in a long-term relationship with his partner Garrett. Both were born and raised in Cheyenne, so they know what kind of problems to expect. As the week-long rodeo and carnival fill the city with citizens and tourists alike with cowboys everywhere you look, Kurtis realizes some things can’t stay hidden, especially at the fairgrounds. They both realize that love can be just as open as the prairie, and theirs may be just what the town needs to move forward.
“Garrett, if those jeans were any tighter, I could see Lincoln smiling on the penny in your pocket.”
He turned around and shot me one of his brilliant smiles that had a way of melting my heart like butter in a frying pan. “Ricky, all my jeans are tight. You didn’t seem to mind earlier when you slapped me on the ass while I washed the pickup.”
I could only shrug since he was right. “I can’t tell a lie. You look good in jeans, baby. Now get your ass back here and walk beside me.”
Garrett strutted back and matched my speed. He looked great tonight wearing slick dark cowboy boots, tight jeans, red plaid button up shirt with rolled up sleeves topped off with a dirty white cowboy hat. His green eyes sparkled with mischief, and the scruff on his face sent shivers through my body when he rubbed it against me.
His smile won me over. He had an athletic body and a handsome face, but his grin made my heart flutter more than anything. Garrett had a mind on him. His parents made sure he kept his grades up, and after many years at the University of Wyoming, he graduated with a degree in Veterinary Medicine.
“I’d hold your hand but considering where we are, it may not be a good idea,” Garrett said. He sounded disappointed. I couldn’t blame him.
“Cheyenne isn’t the most open of cities,” I replied. “In time, we’ll catch up to the rest of the nation.”
“That’s just a part of it, Ricky. I know we talked about it, but sometimes I wish we could be more open about us,” Garrett replied.
“I want to but the campaign. I’m running for Laramie County Sheriff. People here couldn’t handle if one of their own were gay and wanted to be the big cop in town.” I stopped and stared at the large fence filled with campaign signs and local advertising banners.
“People here are more open than you think they are. Many will handle it well and others won’t, but we’ll have to tell them sometime,” Garrett said, stopping beside me.
I heard him sigh and wanted to pull him against me. Garrett was right as usual. I’d have to out myself at some point. Many of the force already knew and didn’t care. They’d met Garrett and loved him as much as me, but with the campaign, it made things harder.
Growing up gay in the small-town Midwest could be dangerous. With stories in the news of LGBT kids getting killed proved hard enough to understand. When it happened in my backyard with the murder of Matthew Shepard, I almost ran back into the closet.