First it was Wyoming, with Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, now gay cowboy fever has spread to Texas.
"There's many a strange impulse out on the plains of west Texas," sings country legend Willie Nelson in a song released on Valentine's Day on the internet music store, iTunes. "There's many a young boy who feels things he can't comprehend."
Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly (Fond of Each Other), is a story of forbidden love in small town Texas, written 25 years ago by the improbably named Ned Sublette. "Now a small town don't like it when somebody falls between sexes," runs the first verse, "No, a small town don't like it when a cowboy has feelings for men."
The chorus, which Nelson sings accompanied by acoustic guitar and accordion, chimes with the concerns of Lee's Oscar-nominated film for which he contributed a song to the soundtrack. "Cowboys are frequently secretly fond of each other/ What did you think them saddles and boots was about?/There's many a cowboy who don't understand the way that he feels for his brother/Inside every cowboy there's a lady that'd love to slip out."
Nelson, most famous for songs such as Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, said that he felt the time was right for the song to be released. While it was written in 1981, the version released this week was recorded last year.
"The song's been in the closet for 20 years," he said.
"The timing's right for it to come out. I'm just opening the door."
Kim Buie, a vice-president at Nelson's Lost Highway records, told the Dallas Morning News: "Being gay is nothing new ... Society puts its own standards on it, but that song makes it OK."