This special issue came together initially through serendipity. I had been considering various topics for special issues, and queer theory and the West was a topic I thought might be timely. Then I noticed that several articles engaging with queer theory had been submitted to the journal at roughly the same time, and each had been recommended for publication by the peer reviewers. It dawned on me that, with a little extra work, it would be possible to combine them into a single special issue. Clearly the time had come, the zeitgeist was right, the stars had aligned, for a special issue of Western American Literature on queer theory and the West.
To round out the issue, I solicited one additional article, and then, since I myself know little about queer theory, I engaged Geoffrey Bateman to serve as the special issue editor. His tasks involved revising the articles, recommending various changes to foreground their use of queer theory, and the crafting of an introduction to frame the collection.
This special issue by no means purports to be comprehensive regarding the literature and culture of the queer West, were such a thing even possible. Instead, it reflects what some scholars of the literature and culture of the North American West are thinking and theorizing about at this particular moment in regards to the queer dimensions of the literature of the West. While necessarily limited in scope, it demonstrates that there is much more to the queer West than “Brokeback Mountain,” a story (and subsequent film) which, though it may have brought the topic into broader public awareness, was, as this collection of articles shows, certainly not the first, nor the last, representation of the queer West. [End Page vii]