The Meaning of Matthew, My Son's Murder and a World Transformed
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 through.
    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 sexuality.
    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 love.

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;
 Bottom photo:  Judy Shepard, courtesy Matthew Shepard Foundation)