The handcuffs are too tight and I don’t know the safety word. This is no Fifty Shades of Grey gone wrong (or right). I’m standing on a city street, hands behind my back, surrounded by NYPD undercover officers.

How I became the center of a cop circle is easily told. After a day of imperfectly freelancing, the workday ends with a walk. A friend calls it a “daily constitutional” and teases I should wear a bowler, accompanied with a dog called Mr. Muggles. He insists this imagined pet be a Jack Russell. More… “Brown and Blue”

James Withers is a freelance writer living in New York City. His work has appeared in Gay Star News, Genre, the Gay & Lesbian Review, and New York Post. Between 2007 and 2011, he was a contributing editor to He can be followed on Twitter at @JamesWithers3.

Mr. Sampson, I Presume?

It was about five years ago. I was returning from Pakistan and standing in the immigration line at JFK, completely exhausted after a 20-hour flight. When my turn came up at the counter, the INS agent looked at my papers, typed a few things into his computer, and then asked me to follow him to a large room at the side of the immigration hall. I was informed that I was being detained. Two agents handcuffed me and led me to another smaller room. When I asked what I had done. They said things like, “Oh, you know what you’ve done. We know who you are.”

“Who am I? What have I done?”

“You should know that better than we do, now shouldn’t you?”

When I asked to contact a lawyer, I was informed that I hadn’t yet been admitted to the United… More…