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Since Denver had played a crucial but little-understood role in Matthew Shepard’s life, seeing so many rows of seats beginning to fill up heartened me.Two weeks earlier when I’d arrived for a book event at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC, the store’s owners, Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, had ushered me into their office for a private meeting.
Jones also mentioned that he wouldn’t be sticking around for the book-signing portion at the end, but “we can talk another time.”Surprised, and my curiosity piqued, I didn’t have time to ask him any questions, as the bookstore manager was at the podium beginning to introduce me.
I was a drug-using out kid at a public university who dealt with bad dudes and slept with the wrong men, including those who had girlfriends and considered themselves ‘straight.’ It’s simply luck that I wasn’t tied to a post and left to die.”Had Broverman bothered, at the minimum as a journalist, to read this book, he might have discovered that his conclusion about simple “luck” and the conclusions I draw are not far apart.
More important, however, all of us in our diverse democracy are diminished by such well-intentioned attempts to reduce complex human experiences into tidy narratives so that they can be pressed into service on behalf of political agendas and social causes, or slotted into categories of right or left, conservative or progressive.
All I could do was shake Jones’s hand and thank him for coming.
Mike Jones and I spoke on the phone a few times and exchanged emails, but we didn’t meet again in person until a couple of months later when I returned to Denver.
was first published, Tattered Cover, a renowned independent bookstore in Denver, hosted me for a reading and book signing.
As I arrived that evening and descended a wide staircase to the store’s spacious underground level — part of a renovated old theater — I could feel a nervous buzz in the room.Another bookstore, located in the upscale enclave of West Hollywood, California, had been warned by an activist that the store would be “picketed like a Chick-fil-A” if they proceeded with their plans to host a reading with me.(The fast-food chain was picketed following comments by its chief operating officer opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage.)America’s leading LGBT magazine, published a piece on its website by columnist Neal Broverman titled “Why I’m Not Reading the ‘Trutherism’ About Matt Shepard.” In branding my book with the dismissive “trutherism” label, Broverman was following the lead of an online organization called Media Matters.We’d already established a safety routine during the book tour, with him watching my back everywhere we went.The man introduced himself as Mike Jones and said he’d heard an interview I’d done on Denver radio.They explained that they’d been getting a steady stream of messages from angry people intent on stopping my book tour.