October 12th, 1998

Ten years ago today, Matthew Shepard died.  Just three days earlier, he’d been picked up in a bar by two men.  They robbed him, tortured him, beat him, pistol whipped him, and left him tied to a fence in freezing temperatures in Laramie, Wyoming because he was gay.  He was discovered 18 hours later by a cyclist who thought he was a scarecrow.  Matthew’s parents did not seek the death penalty in court.  They gave his tormenters life in prison, despite that they had taken the life of Matthew.

I don’t know where I was on that day.  It was 1998 so I had been living in Memphis for 3 years.  I was still in college.  Besides that, I couldn’t tell you where I was at exactly the moment I heard Matthew had died.  I’m sure I was glued to the television and praying he’d live.  I do know the effects it’s had on me since then.  I remember his mother visiting Memphis.  I have a book of poetry about Matthew which is signed by Judy.  As I write this now, I wonder where she is and how she is doing on this day.

I know who Matthew Shepard is.  I know he’d turn 32 this year on December 1st, the same age as me, if he was still alive.  I wonder where he’d gone in life, what’d he done, who’d he loved.  I wish he had lived.  I wish none of this would have ever happened to him, and that the world might not have known who Matthew Shepard was for the reason we do.

Rest in peace, Matthew.  We will never forget you.

Christian Site’s Ban on the G Word Sends a Homosexual To Olympics

From the Washington Post:

The American Family Association obviously didn’t foresee the problems that might arise with its strict policy to always replace the word “gay” with “homosexual” on the Web site of its Christian news outlet, OneNewsNow. The group’s automated system for changing the forbidden word wound up publishing a story about a world-class sprinter named “Tyson Homosexual” who qualified this week for the Beijing Olympics.

Tyson Gay wins the men’s 100 meters final at June the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. (Reuters — Mike Blake)

The problem: Tyson’s real last name is Gay. Therefore, OneNewsNow’s reliable software changed the Associated Press story about Tyson Gay’s amazing Olympic qualifying trial to read this way:

Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn’t count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here’s what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he’s certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

“It means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old Homosexual said. “I’m glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.”

You might think it’s a joke, until you read the original AP story, which begins this way:

Tyson Gay was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn’t count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here’s what does matter: Gay qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he’s certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

“It means a lot to me,” the 25-year-old Gay said. “I’m glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.”

Contacted by the Sleuth for comment on the software mishap, American Family Association spokeswoman Cindy Roberts in Tupelo, Miss., told us, “I think it was just a fluke.”

Fred Jackson, news director of OneNewsNow, tells the Sleuth his organization has now fixed the software glitch. “We took the filter out for that word,” he said, without uttering the “G” word.

“We don’t object to the word ‘gay,'” Jackson explained, except “when it refers to people who practice a homosexual lifestyle.” And the “G” word, he says, has “been co-opted by a particular group of people.” (People who are g-a-y.)

The OneNewsNow story about Gay, which was spotted by blogger Ed Brayton at scienceblogs.com, as well as by gay blogs, including PageOneQ, even included these nice details about Mr. Homosexual’s qualifying sprint:

Wearing a royal blue uniform with red and white diagonal stripes across the front, along with matching shoes, all in a tribute to 1936 Olympic star Jesse Owens, Homosexual dominated the competition. He started well and pulled out to a comfortable lead by the 40-meter mark. This time, he kept pumping those legs all the way through the finish line, extending his lead. In Saturday’s opening heat, Homosexual pulled way up, way too soon, and nearly was caught by the field, before accelerating again and lunging in for fourth place.

But as Brayton at scienceblogs discovered, OneNewsNow’s filter didn’t work perfectly; the “G” word did slip through, just once:

Gay’s race came with the wind blowing at 4.1 meters per second; anything above 2.0 is not allowed for record purposes.

“I didn’t really care what the wind was,” Homosexual said.

The gay site goodasyou.org, which has long chronicled the AFA’s practice of changing AP copy to suit its conservative agenda, looks like it was first to spot the Gay gaffe.

The blog Agitator also found this gem of a story on the AFA’s OneNewsNow site, from a June 27 story article about NBA player Rudy Gay:

Memphis Grizzlies backers hit the hay hoping that Kevin Love would open things up for Rudy Homosexual in the frontcourt.

Incidentally, Jackson, the OneNewsNow news manager, tells us his organization doesn’t mind using the “L” word to refer to women who are homosexual. Asked how he would refer to Vice President Dick Cheney‘s gay daughter, Mary Cheney, Jackson said, “We would probably refer to her as a lesbian. Or homosexual.”

Hmmm…here’s my thoughts.  They should replace the word ‘Christian’ with the word ‘Bigot.’  Oh wait, bigots usually go to church anyway!


That’s right!  You can win a free copy before my new book, Stealing Wishes, even hits the bookstore shelves or Amazon.

All you have to do is leave a comment right here on this post!  That’s it.  It’s that simple.  One lucky reader will win a free signed copy.  So go ahead, post to your heart’s content.

The game is on!  The winner will be announced on July 1st!

The search for Mr. Right has never been portrayed with more quirks and charms than it is in Shannon Yarbrough’s Stealing Wishes. This is a book that is full of heart and hope, filled with the kind of characters you’ll want to know…and for whom you will come to wish the very best. An emotional, engaging read, you’ll want to return to the world of Stealing Wishes again and again.
–Rick R. Reed, author of IM and Orientation


That’s right! I gave the blog a new look. Do ya like? I’m really into this whole lime green, powdery blue, on chocolate look. David Bromstad would be so proud!

And check out my new look in the pic over there on the right. About a week ago, I started letting the face carpet grow out. I had just the soul patch at Christmas and it didn’t last long. It’s been about 10 years since I tried the goatee. As a coworker at work said…”Wow, Shannon, you look so trendy!” Um, did I look untrendy before?

A new look for the blog. A new new look for me. Oh, and if you’ve read any of my recent posts then you know I have a new book coming out too! New! New! New! I like it. Like burning a new candle for the first time. The scent of a new car or a new box of unsharpened pencils. Do people use pencils anymore?

Book Update

May was a busy month, and I can’t believe it’s gone! I went through several edits and a completely new cover design for my next book, STEALING WISHES. The anticipated release date was July 1st, but I think it might be mid June now.

I’ve been trying to concentrate on my historical fiction novel but haven’t been able to concentrate on it since early May with all the excitement going on with STEALING WISHES.

I’m back on MySpace now, mainly to promote the new book and make contacts with friends and acquaintances there. I’m also still using my Amazon blog, where readers who bought my previous work can catch up with me and keep up to date. Speaking of Amazon, the Kindle Ebook edition of STEALING WISHES is already available there for just $6.00!

I also signed up for AfterElton.com yesterday, something I can’t believe I haven’t done already. It’s loaded with lots of entertainment information and I spent almost all day yesterday reading stuff there. Check it out and add me as a buddy there too if you want. I probably spend too much time on line, but between writing at the computer, and getting the word out about my new book, the internet is such a valuable tool for an author.

So stay tuned to my blog here, or Amazon, or AE, or MySpace because the release of STEALING WISHES is fast approaching. I look forward to hearing your opinions of the new book, and I appreciate your readership.

Best wishes!

Want to get a copy of my new book before anyone else?

A sneak peek at STEALING WISHES is available here!

You can buy a trade paperback copy for just $14.00, or you can download it as an E-Book for only $5.00.

You can also read the first few chapters for free!

The book will be available on Amazon, B&N, and in stores in just a few more weeks! Stay tuned for more details…

Bitch, I made those curtains with my bare hands!

It’s an election year, so you know the subject of gay marriages was bound to pop up sometime.  Kudos to California queers for putting up a fight.  The subject of gay marriage is like an old soap opera star we haven’t seen for a few seasons.  A has been big screen name that’s been tucked away in rehab since the last time we heard about it in the news.  I don’t care about gay marriage.  I just hope they make a reality TV show about all the gay divorces.  Bitch, I’m taking the poodle!  As long as I get the curtains, honey, I made them with my bare hands!

“Okay, so we are getting married and you look fabulous and I’m taking your last name, but I promised Mom we wouldn’t hold hands at the ceremony because I don’t want to embarrass her, mmmmkyay?”

In the Name of Love

Despite death threats, a gay bishop plans to go through with a civil union for him and his partner!

“When your life is at stake, you learn that there are things in life that are much worse than death,” Bishop Robinson told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Thursday in New York. “That’s the great reward of being a Christian. Not living your life — that’s worse than death. And if something were to happen to me, I would know that I am doing what I discern God is calling me to do.”

Read the whole article here!

What would Jesus do? I somehow doubt he’d call in a bomb threat or put cyanide in the punch bowl.