The Meaning of Matthew, My Son's Murder and a World
Written by Judy Shepard with John Barrett
The senseless kidnapping, torture, robbery and murder of 21 year
old gay college student Matthew Shepard - at the hands of Aaron
McKinney and Russell Henderson - made headlines and rocked the once
quiet town of Laramie, Wyoming. McKinney and Henderson,
pretending to be gay in order to rob Matthew, offered him a ride home
only to pistol whip and savagely beat him. They tied him to a
fence post and left him to die.
On October 12, 1998, five
days after the attack left him in a coma, Matthew died - surrounded by
his family and friends. During the next 13 months, Judy Shepard
and her family began the long and painful journey to seek, not only
justice for her son's murder, but answers as well.
Now, 10 years after the trials
finally ended, Mrs. Shepard recounts the years leading up to - and the
days after - Matthew's murder in the book, The
Meaning of Matthew, My Son's Murder and a World Transformed. Dispelling myths and telling truths, Mrs.
Shepard finally has put into print what the Shepard family went
Events such as the protesting at
Matthew's funeral and trial by a cult of Independent Baptist and
Hyper-Calvinists, led by Fred Phelps - whose motto and website is
"God Hates Fags" - only led to the sensationalism of the
trial. And left the Shepard Family feeling
battered and confused.
Gut wrenching and heartfelt,
Mrs. Shepard lets the world in, and tells the reader what really
happened in Laramie - and who Matthew truly was. Not the saint
the media painted him out to be, but a human with faults the same as
everyone else, Matthew struggled to make it in the world. Dealing
with an assault that occurred in Morocco, depression and alcohol are
discussed in startling detail - and offer a glimpse into the life of a
son who happened to be a gay man, who was murdered because of his
Mrs. Shepard also recounts how the
Matthew Shepard Foundation came to exist, the writing and staging of The Laramie Project, her
involvement with the Human Rights Campaign, and the direction she is
headed in now. The release of the book coincides with the October
12th staging of The Laramie Project: 10
Years Later, Epilogue in more than 100
theatres in all 50 states and in Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Hong
Kong and Australia.
For a mother to gather enough
strength to write about her son's murder is nothing short of
miraculous. And Judy goes the extra mile - she put her pain out
in the open. She let the world see her grieve - and more
importantly, she has shown the world how to fight for what is right.
Stunning and bold, The Meaning of Matthew,
My Son's Murder and a World Transformed is
a testament to a bond that can never be broken - that of a mother's
Nick Manix is a professional writer and journalist
who splits his time between Central Texas and New Orleans.
(Top photo: The
Meaning of Matthew, courtesy Amazon.com;
Bottom photo: Judy Shepard, courtesy
Matthew Shepard Foundation)