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From the week of July 21, 2005

Cowboy Up

What's not so funny: I don't know who or what Adam Cayton-Holland is -- meaning if he's gay or straight -- but I was highly offended by what he wrote regarding the gay rodeo in the July 14 What's So Funny? He should have taken the mayor's advice and "found somewhere to go that will appeal to your interests."

Obviously, Adam was disappointed that the drag queens weren't pretty enough for him, the lack of shirts and obvious wearing of cowboy hats didn't appeal to him, and the fact that people were dressing a goat with tightie whities offended him. I wonder if Adam has ever been to a "straight" rodeo, where most of the beauty queens look like drag queens, hats are everywhere (men and women) and "mutton bustin'" is a huge draw for the crowds.

There are many talented and hard-working cowboys and cowgirls in the gay rodeo. My father was a (straight) pro rodeo rider, and he wouldn't have cared if some "girl" didn't quite look "girlie" enough for him. The last sentence in Adam's article was the worst. In silently responding to a man who made a come-on to him, he referred to the man as a "sexually-harassing, animal-abusing, inbred son of a bitch." And ended it with, "This rodeo is gay."

No kidding. He was to report on a "gay rodeo."

I am beginning to see that Westword and its staff is becoming more and more conservative, just like the rest of Colorado. Find someone who will report on an event that will make people wantto attend. Every time I read some paper here, it makes me want to flee the state and warn all my friends that live elsewhere never to come here, as they will be judged by the majority.

I am so angry right now at your author. I suggest you have a chat with this homophobe and see whether he's into cowboys or not. You might want to only let him report on the "pretty" people of Denver, which is obviously all he cares about.

Marrion Irons
Denver

Fresh as a daisy:It's unfortunate whenever someone experiences sexual harassment. But the enforcers of political correctness generally look the other way when it comes to cowboys at rodeos. Cowboys are still allowed to lick their chops when an attractive, shall we say, "daisy," walks by. That is, unless the daisy is Westword's Adam Cayton-Holland and he's attending Colorado's gay rodeo.

If a female journalist were covering a non-gay rodeo, she would probably brush off the rude behavior of a single cowboy. Such behavior between a man and a woman certainly wouldn't become the focus of a column that makes straight cowboys seem like sex-crazed predators, as Cayton-Holland's did to gay cowboys.

Although sexual harassment is uncomfortable for everyone who experiences it, Cayton-Holland's column defames gays by holding gay cowboys to a different standard than non-gay cowboys. That being said, Cayton-Holland was the only journalist to cover the gay rodeo. Although the rodeo is a major event that attracts thousands from half a dozen states, the rest of the media defamed gays by omission.

Andy Bosselman
Denver


Cold, Hard Facts on Colfax

Book 'em: Thank you, Westword, for doing the July 14 On the Record on drug deals on Colfax, and thank you, Jim Hannifin, Dave Walstrom and Ed Thomas, for telling the truth about East Colfax.

We've owned the bookstore at 300 East Colfax Avenue (Capitol Hill Books) since June 1. What I've seen on East Colfax between 10:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. in the past 45 days would make hair grow on an almost bald head. (I wish.)

The Denver Police Department's District 6 has been exceptionally responsive to fights at 1 a.m. and bleeding victims at 11:30 p.m. But East Colfax at midnight remains a horrific nightmare of drug deals, stabbings and prostitution, with constant side dressings of urination and vomit on our sidewalks and in the alley.

John Sturtz
Denver

Busted!The On the Record regarding cameras on Colfax asked this question: "If Colfax could get a drug cop, would it be Miami Vice's Sonny Crockett or The Shield's Detective James McNulty?"

Jim Hannifin answered: "Well, Jesus, we don't want either one of those. I'd like to see McNulty kicking butt, but I think that the TV cameras will hopefully chase away a lot of the buyers."

Real answer: James McNulty (Dominic West) is on HBO's The Wire, not FX's The Shield.

Chad Livermore
via the Internet


School Daze

Dead man walking:I read Luke Turf's "Headed for Trouble," in the July 7 issue, and Nate Ybanez, the man portrayed in that article, bears no resemblance to the one I used to know and spend time with. Nathan and I went to school together for a few years, and while he was shy, he was also caring, considerate, funny, kind and one of the most popular kids in our class. He was a skateboarder, played Hacky Sack and was the lead singer of a band. He would bring us bread from his parents' bakery every so often because we all liked it so much. As difficult as it may be for the citizens of Colorado to believe, he was extremely sweet. It was an open secret that Nathan's parents had a very controlling presence in his life, but outside of school, we all chose to spend the precious time we had with Nathan having fun with him. To know that his life has taken the most monumental pendulum swing imaginable blows me away. There were signs and moments that most of us chose to ignore, and because of that I feel like he has been let down in a significant and very real way.

This letter is not an endorsement of what he did to his mother. I do not provide these examples as an excuse or reason for what took place at all. I do this because, in retrospect, I now understand that this ball began rolling years before Julie Ybanez was brutally murdered, and if more of our eyes had been open to what was going on in Nathan's life, I truly feel that his mother would be alive today. He was a dead man walking before he left Nebraska.

Jonnique Peter
Omaha, Nebraska

Class dismissed:I was somewhat glad to finally get the true story of what had happened with the Nathan Ybanez situation. I have heard different accounts, and it was hard to figure out what was fact and what was fiction. You see, I attended eighth grade at Brownell-Talbot in Omaha with Nathan. I only got to know him for a year, but within that year everybody knew his mom was crazy. Even the school officials knew it. We were in between our sophomore and junior year when we heard about the murder. The cops had called the school to get his school records, and one of our classmate's mom worked for the school, so the news spread pretty quickly.

One incident has always stuck in my mind: At an end-of-the-year party (numerous people were leaving to attend high school at another school), we were sitting around a classmate's house watching movies. Nathan's mother called every ten minutes to yell at him (which is why I was not surprised to hear that her calls cost him a job). Am I saying he had a right to do it? Of course not, but in that situation I can't say what I would and wouldn't have done.

Looking back, I'm sure everyone who was in our class is wondering if we could have done something back then to prevent what happened in the future. I guess that's something that will always be stuck in our minds.

Melissa Jones
Omaha, Nebraska


There Auto Be a Law

A walk on the wild side:Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Crash Course," in the July 7 issue:

It's extremely tragic that Sonja DeVries's life was snuffed out by 55-year-old Ramon Romero, a drunk driver, who took her life so carelessly! Most of the jerks like Romero are repeat offenders. People like this will never learn. Why Romero's driver's license wasn't permanently revoked is disturbing.

There is mass publicity and broad knowledge regarding responsible drinking, the reckless behavior and outcome of taking a human life through drunk driving, and family members losing loved ones. Our country has enormous programs, such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and we encourage friends not to "let friends drive drunk"; additionally, cab companies are willing to give an incoherent, intoxicated driver a ride home for free. Why are we still having this problem?

The maximum sentence of 24 years for Ramon Romero doesn't come close to what he deserves for his reckless, stupid behavior. I have a better idea: Wrap him up and send him off to Iraq to fight! Perhaps this will give him food for thought!

I am a pedestrian (other than city transit, I choose to walk to most places), and I am amazed at the reckless disdain that motorists have for pedestrians -- failing to stop appropriately at crosswalks, running red lights, etc. I find I use as much energy seeking to determine if I am safe as I do walking across an intersection. And, of course, there are the drunk drivers such as Ramon Romero.

Diane Bellamy
Denver

Unsafe at any speed:We attended the sentencing of Ramon Romero, who was convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of our friend Sonja DeVries. We listened to Sonja's voice on a tape recorder, witnessed the pain in the compassionate eyes of Judge Michael Martinez, and watched as Mr. Romero was led from the courtroom in chains. This tragedy could have been avoided were it not for the inactivity of current and past state legislators. Sadly, we live in a state that seems to ignore alcohol abuse on our highways.

Our family has been the repeated victim of drunk drivers, and these deaths point to the General Assembly being either oblivious or unwilling to create laws capable of protecting both the innocent and those like Mr. Romero, who are unable to conquer alcohol abuse, from the lethal combination of drinking and driving.

As a consequence of repeated indolence on the part of Colorado lawmakers, we watched our tears and those of the DeVries and Romero families, imagined future tears owing to similar tragedies, and longed for the passage of meaningful and effective anti-drunk driving legislation.

Bill and Renee Runyon
Northglenn

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