Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Matthew Shepard's murder revisited
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2018-10-17

This article shared 1045 times since Wed Oct 17, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


With October being LGBTQ History Month it allows the LGBTQ community to look back at historical events. And Matthew Shepard's murder is one of them.

Oct. 12 marked 20 years since the death of Matthew Shepard. In October 1998, Shepard, then 21, was a first-year college student at University of Wyoming. Under the guise of friendship, two men ( Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson ) lured Shepard from a tavern, tortured and bludgeoned him with their rifles, and then tethered him to a rough-hewn wooden fence to die—simply because he was gay.

That's the story the world over has come to know. And, for the most part, the LGBTQ community is tenaciously sticking with it, resulting in numerous hagiographies on Shepard as the quintessential LGBTQ icon.

However, with all iconic narratives, apocryphal tales abound, too, resulting in queries concerning the truth.

In 2013 investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez, who is himself gay, wrote The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, upending a canonized narrative we all have grown familiarly comfortable with, irrespective of its sensationalized macabre details.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jimenez at his book reading at the Harvard Coop that October 2013. I told Stephen, referring to his book, that perhaps it's easier to kill the messenger ( him ) than hear his message.

Jimenez posits that Shepard's murder had nothing to do with his sexual orientation but rather his involvement in the deadly underworld of Laramie's crystal methamphetamine drug trafficking. Jimenez writes that Shepard was not only a user but he was a courier who had plans just before his death to drive a shipment of meth.

"I learned that Matthew had been a user of meth. And from everything I was able to trace, Matthew got into meth in a serious way, when he was living in Denver before he moved to Laramie," Jimenez stated in an interview with Rachel Martin of Weekend Edition on NPR.

According to Jimenez, Shepard's murderers were not strangers—one is a bisexual crystal-meth addict who not only knew Matthew, but partied, bought drugs from and had sex with Matthew. With this "new" information, a more textured but troubling narrative emerges.

The response, however, to Jimenez's book was a thunderous rebuke that resulting in him becoming an instant media sensation—and a pariah, Judas and a colossal sellout. The response to Jimenez's book was such that Aaron Hicklin's article "Have We Got Matthew Shepard All Wrong?" ( in The Advocate ) asked, "Did our need to make a symbol of Shepard blind us to a messy, complex story that is darker and more troubling than the established narrative?"

In a 2004 episode of the television newsmagazine show 20/20, investigative journalist Elizabeth Vargas also reported that money and drugs motivated Shepard killers' actions, not homophobia. However, many immediately discredit the episode once finding out that Jimenez was its producer, resulting in his controversial book.

This story, nonetheless, shatters a revered icon for LGBTQ rights—one who was deliberately chosen because of his race, gender, and economic background.

"Matthew Shepard's status as a gay everyman was determined first by the media, then by gay-rights groups—with little knowledge of who he was. He looked like an attractive, angelic, white college student from the heart of conservative America," Gabriel Arana wrote in her 2009 piece "The Deification of Matthew Shepard: What the gay-rights movement has lost by making Shepard its icon."

The anointing of Matthew Shepard as an iconic image for LGBTQ rights not only concealed from the American public the real person, but also hid the other varied faces of hate crimes in 1998.

For example, there was James Byrd Jr. The hate crime is depicted as lynching by dragging. Walking home from a party along a highway in East Texas, Byrd was offered a ride. The ride resulted being dragged by his ankles to his death— simply because he was Black.

In reading Jimenez's book, we shockingly learn that Matthew Shepard is a fictive narrative. Some, however, would empathically argue it's a good one to politically canonize in order to push for needed legislative changes in the protection and understanding of LGBTQ Americans.

The fruit of the Shepard narrative includes The Matthew Shepard Foundation, The Laramie Project, the TV movie The Matthew Shepard Story, and The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act ( mostly known as the Matthew Shepard Act ), to name a few.

Not bad, some would say, for a story built on more fiction than truth.

The cultural currency of the Shepard narrative's shelf life, however, might now after nearly two decades be flickering out. Or, in 2018, it's now of no immediate political expediency to its framers and the community it was intended to serve.

"There are valuable reasons for telling certain stories in a certain way at pivotal times, but that doesn't mean we have to hold on to them once they've outlived their usefulness," Hicklin, wrote.

I read Jimenez's The Book of Matt as a cautionary tale of how the needs of a community might have trumped the truth. In retrospect, crystal meth was popular in urban gay clubs and in small-town America like Laramie. Homophobia, unquestionably, played a role in Shepard's death, but drugs might have, too.

This year will be the 20th anniversary of Shepard's death. Perhaps, we should revisit the story anew.


This article shared 1045 times since Wed Oct 17, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

The Amazon Trail: Rats fleeing a sinking ship
2020-11-14
I've heard the idiom "like rats fleeing a sinking ship" often lately, and while the metaphor is apt for what's going on in the United States, at our house it's even more befitting. Merriam Webster notes, ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Harris stands on shoulders of giants
2020-11-09
The struggle to get President-elect Joe Biden to the finish line first with 270 electoral college votes was unquestionably an epic battle. However, Biden's battle wasn't a century-long one like women finally winning the right to ...


Gay News

ELECTIONS 2020 Presidential contest stays tight; LGBTQs make history (UPDATES)
2020-11-03
As of 11 p.m. on Election Night (Nov. 3), the race for U.S. president between Joe Biden and current Chief Executive Donald Trump was considered too close to call. Biden was projected to win Illinois. The ...


Gay News

Sarah McBride of Delaware first trans State Senator in U.S. history
2020-11-03
Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidate Sarah McBride won her election for the Delaware state Senate, becoming the first out transgender person ever elected to a state senate seat anywhere in the United ...


Gay News

Lilly Wachowski: Refuse Fascism, at the Ballot Box and in the Street
2020-11-02
Video below - In a rare, public and political statement, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski (co-creator of The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Sense8) published this personal essay on the literary website, LitHub.com, calling on people to "Refuse Fascism, at the ...


Gay News

LGBTQ HISTORY: Century of Gay Rumors Surround Miami's Iconic Vizcaya Estate
2020-10-29
An opulent manse in Miami, James Deering's Vizcaya has played host to many a wedding, elaborate engagement shoot, and field trips of schoolchildren learning about Miami's past. But it also played a prominent role in local ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY: The Intersection Of LGBTQ History And Disability
2020-10-29
Disabled people have long been hidden from history, and unsurprisingly, disabled LGBTQ historical figures too have been hidden. The LGBTQ community itself has been slow to address disability as an issue, yet some of the most ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY: SF house includes Joplin, Log Cabin Republicans in its history
2020-10-29
The day Peggy Caserta took acid for the first time changed her life — and that of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood — forever. "They told me it'd help me learn a book I was reading for ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Is Pope Francis' support of civil unions just lip service?
2020-10-29
Pope Francis has expressed support for civil unions in the Catholic Church. Once again, the pontiff has sent shockwaves across the globe to 1.3 billion of his followers with another LGBTQ- affirming statement. However, this one ...


Gay News

Chicago Filmmakers to participate in Masterwork: Industry Conversations series
2020-10-22
--From a press release - (Chicago, IL) Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to announce two new editions of Masterwork: Industry Conversations, a series of virtual interviews with long established and award-winning filmmakers followed by a Q&A ...


Gay News

LETTER Thank you, Pope Francis
2020-10-22
I never thought I would live to see the day when a pope would endorse civil rights for LGBTQ couples. Praise God for His Grace. Also, the many Roman Catholic individuals and organizations who worked so ...


Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett
2020-10-22
Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of Catholic-rooted organizations including DignityUSA, deplores the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. We have serious concerns about the judgment of any nominee ...


Gay News

Inclusive curriculum tools offered to schools during LGBTQ History Month
2020-10-20
--From a press release - October is LGBTQ History Month, and a coalition of LGBTQ organizations are celebrating by making tools available to school administrators, educators, youth, and families to help implement the state's new Inclusive Curriculum Law. The Illinois Inclusiv ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY: Surviving the Silence, The Unexpected Story of Col. Pat Thompson
2020-10-17
In 1989, U.S. Army Col. Margarethe (Grethe) Cammermeyer was undergoing a routine security clearance interview when she said four simple words, "I am a lesbian." At the time, she was a highly decorated nurse and war ...


Gay News

LGBT HISTORY: QAnon's 'SaveOurChildren' slogan has long anti-LGBT history
2020-10-17
Model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen recently shared devastating news with her social media followers: she and her husband, singer John Legend, had lost their child halfway through her pregnancy. She shared heartbreaking black-and-white photos of ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.