An award winning journalist is set to release a book on the young man Matthew Shepard who was tied to a fence and killed in 1998, arguing against original accounts that the murder was in fact not an anti-gay hate crime, but was committed by his bisexual lover.
Stephen Jimenez will release ‘The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard’ on October 1 – a book the Matthew Shepard Foundation has said attempts to “rewrite” history by basing itself on “untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence.”
Jimenez told The Dish in an interview that he had traveled to Laramie in Wyoming, where Shepard was killed, to compile research for a screenplay.
This came following the repeal of a year-long gag order during the trial of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, who were convicted for the murder.
While searching through formerly sealed court documents, the journalist said he discovered an anonymous letter.
He said: “Basically the letter was saying that the defense raised by Aaron McKinney’s defense team of ‘gay panic’ was false and the evidence that was cited for that was that Aaron McKinney had been a male hustler, that he was familiar with gay guys in gay bars.
“It mentioned at first both Aaron and Russell, but as the letter went on it spoke more about Aaron, mentioning that he really did like having sex with gay guys, that he wasn’t unfamiliar with homosexuality and the gay world.
“The theory sharply contrasts the widely-known media narrative of Shepard’s death, which has inspired movies, books, plays, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.”
According to original accounts, Shepard was a gay teenager who, in the town of Laramie in Wyoming, died in an anti-gay hate after being tied to a fence and savagely beaten.
But the book claims reportedly claims that Shepard and Mckinney were both dealing and using methamphetamine and, in addition to being business rivals, also had a sexual relationship.
A Kirkus review states: “The tragedy was ‘enshrined … as passion play and folktale, but hardly ever for the truth of what it was': the story of a troubled young man who had died because he had been involved with Laramie’s drug underworld rather than because he was gay.”
A spokesperson for the Matthew Shepard Foundation told The Huffington Post: “Attempts now to rewrite the story of this hate crime appear to be based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law.
“We do not respond to innuendo, rumor or conspiracy theories. Instead we recommit ourselves to honoring Matthew’s memory, and refuse to be intimidated by those who seek to tarnish it.
“We owe that to the tens of thousands of donors, activists, volunteers, and allies to the cause of equality who have made our work possible.”
This upcoming feature tells the story of Matthew Shepard’s family and close friends.
Last year, in the first set of indictments that followed from a federal hate crime law which protects against attacks motivated by sexual orientation, two women from Kentucky pleaded guilty to helping in the kidnap and assault of a gay man.
The case marked the first use of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009.