Matthew Shepard Foundation Slams New Book Disputing Role Of Anti-Gay Hate In Shepard’s Murder

6a00d8341c730253ef0154361338c4970c-250wiThe Matthew Shepard Foundation has denounced a re-telling of the murder of Matthew Shepard put forth by Stephen Jimenez in his new book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard. As previously reported, Jimenez, who is gay, argues that it was not anti-gay prejudice that motivated Aaron McKinney to murder Shepard but rather a "drug-fueled rage that had nothing to do with [Matthew's] sexuality." According to Jimenez, "McKinney had been a male hustler, had been familiar with gay guys and
gay bars…He really did like having sex with gay guys and…he was not unfamiliar with homosexuality and the gay world." Jimenez also asserts that gay rights advocates were responsible for perpetuating a false narrative that focused on anti-gay hate to help push through hate crime legislation nationally. The New York Daily News reports:

"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," the foundation said in a release […]

As the book's release date approaches, the Matthew Shepard Foundation,
which was founded 15 years ago, issued a statement that reaffirms
Shepard was "killed in a brutal, anti-gay hate crime.

"We do not respond to innuendo, rumor or conspiracy theories. Instead
we remain committed to honoring Matthew's memory, and refuse to be
intimidated by those who seek to tarnish it," the statement reads.

This is not the first time someone attempted to change the accepted narrative of Shepard's murder. Back in 2004, ABC's "20/20" ran a controversial report in which McKinney said it was a meth-fueled robbery that ended violently — not a hate crime.

McKinney said he targeted the 21-year-old University of Wyoming
freshman because he was well-dressed and assumed he would have a lot of

Many gay-rights activists and scholars
criticized the "20/20" report arguing it ignored the evidence that
anti-gay hatred fueled the brutal Oct. 7, 1998, murder in which Shepard
was tied to a fence, tortured and left for dead.


  1. will says

    I’ve seen a lot of reportage that Matthew’s death was not so much gay-related as drug-related. But “Matthew Shepard” has evolved into a symbol. His death from “gay bashing” may be mythology, but, like Jesus mythology, it can be used for symbolic purposes. Matthew may be like Tawana Brawley: she may not have been actually raped by 6 white men, but can be used as a symbol for racial prejudice.

    Even if Matthew was killed by in meth-fueled desperation for money by a hustler, he now stands for intolerance against the gay community.

  2. kdknyc says

    I’m deeply embarrassed to be considered to be in the same “community” as someone who would sink to such depths to make some money. But equality has its flip side–we as gay people also have our share of low-life pond scum as the straight community.

    It would be interesting to see exactly who’s funding him. Turn over a few rocks and you’ll probably find that it’s some right-wing “religious” organization.

  3. Geoff says

    These are the same flat-earthers, climate-change-deniers, creationists, holocaust-deniers, etc., that have the educational level of 1st graders. They exist eternally in fear and hatred. Horrifying.

  4. Mike says

    ALL of that hack “reporting” was done by anti-gay creeps who just needed something new to say. [sputter] [sputter] Jimenez is an EVEN lower ethically challenged sort of bottom feeder. He only wants to sell his excuse of a book . . .

  5. Marshall says

    The thing I find difficult to believe is that the two guys who did this and their two girlfriends all tried to lie at first – the gay panic defense – and when that fell apart they told the consistent and likely true story of why they did what they did. In order to believe this guy’s book you have to believe that these four people, all of whom seem to be of below average intelligence, set up a second fallback lie and then told it brilliantly.

  6. jummy says

    A lot of good things are built on myths. The very best ideals of our nation are built on myths.

    I don’t think this book is going to turn American hearts away from the ideal that we should defend targeted groups from crimes of hate and bias.

    However, it is interesting to see how the left is reacting to this. The left were the ones who told us that we need to have our myths deconstructed and de-mythologized in order for our ideals to stand in the light of day. It was important for us to know that the founders owned slaves, that the west was won on the graves of Native Americans, that our valiance in WWII was based on stealing oil from the Japanese. Yet, the fury and scorn, the immediate rapping of our knuckles if we even utter a peep of skepticism about a myth constructed by the left is elucidating.

    Myths are an excellent tool for pedagogy. They are also a tool of power. When the left’s insistence on myth deconstruction only goes one way, it’s laid bare that it is not truth, but power that they are after.

  7. says

    The Matt Shepard murder became a symbol mostly because he was white, blond, and cute. He was nonthreatening and looked like “the boy next door.”

    At this point does it really matter what the “real” story is?

    If you de-bunk some points of the narrative gay people are STILL getting killed for their sexuality with alarming frequency.

    But Jimenez is a pig trying to promote a right-wing revision. Funny how NOBODY, even the killers, supports his version of events. He has an agenda.

  8. Jim says

    The Daily News article writes about the “common narrative” and the “accepted narrative.” So the claim of hate crime is not fact but story–in short a quasi-religious belief? Perhaps Jimenez is correct. On the same night after attacking Shepard, McKinney and Henderson attacked and severely injured two other men. Nobody claims that assault was a hate crime. The prosecution never proved a motive in court since the two perpetrators accepted a plea deal. What difference does it make if drugs, not hate, fueled this crime? A gay man died as no man, gay or straight, should ever die–brutally, senselessly. Decent people should be outraged no matter what the motive. Honor the memory of Matthew Shepard and be thankful that his killers will never walk free.

  9. William says

    I question the motive behind this book. The emotional wounds I imagine the book opens up is reprehensible. I’ll add, though, it wouldn’t matter, in terms of the impact of this incident on the American conscience at the time, if Matthew was not gay-bashed. At the time, the defendants pulled out a gay panic defense. If Matthew was gay-bashed — and I honestly still believe he was — the incident was horrible! If he wasn’t and the defendants tried to get off by claiming gay panic, that, alone, is bad enough. This book doesn’t change that.

  10. says

    Stephen Jimenez, the author of the book, was also a producer of 20/20’s story. So this isn’t even two independent journalists, it’s one insistent journalist.

    You really can’t help but thinking that a reporter so driven to sell this story may have issues of his own that he’s resolving by doing so.

    One of the murderer’s (McKinney’s) defense attorney, Tim Newcomb, is a friend of Stephen Jimenez, and Matthew Shepard’s mother has suspected before that Newcomb and Jimenez were working together.

    Maybe someone’s trying to help with McKinney’s appeals.

  11. MIke says

    “Matthew may be like Tawana Brawley: she may not have been actually raped by 6 white men, but can be used as a symbol for racial prejudice.”

    What a bunch of crap. Tawana Brawley is a symbol of lying, destroying lives, and racial hucksters for profit.
    I hope one of your relatives or friends is falsely accuses one day of raping someone, smearing feces on them, and writing on them so you can say “Oh, who cares it didn’t happen. Rape is just awful!”

  12. ratbastard says

    what if even some of Jiminez’s story is true? Why is it impossible to believe Matt in fact was a so called recreational street drug user? That he routinely brought street drugs,and was familiar with this small town drug scene, including dealers?

    What happened to him is a classic text book case of drug fueled (amphetamines) rage. prosecution and defense both admit Matt’s killers probably hadn’t slept in days and were in a meth induced psychosis. It’s also a classic example of drug trafficking style extreme violence. Why would the defense not have brought up the Jiminez angle?I don’t know.

    I suspect the truth is somewhere in between the official narrative and the Jiminez angle.

  13. says

    It’s not impossible to believe that Matt, like millions of kids across the US, used recreational drugs because it’s been known all along. It just makes him typical of how young adults deal with young adulthood and the boredom of small-town isolation, isolation accentuated when you’re also gay. That’s not a story. You don’t need to be an imaginary saint to be a hate crime victim.

    The story has not changed, no matter what this writer is pimping. The basic fact–not a myth, not a fabrication, not a liberal talking point–is that a young gay man was brutalized and crucified in a way that it’s impossible to imagine an average straight boy on the wrong end of a drug deal would be. The myth the anti-gay right wing likes to push (and you can count on them using this book to perpetuate it) is that anti-gay discrimination and hate crimes simply don’t exist because in their world view they don’t.

  14. Bernie says

    this book is nothing but fiction!!!! Matthew Shepard was found hanging like a rag doll on a fence in Wyoming……this is hatred, not a “fuel” induced meth gone wrong murder…..the author has a right wing slant and agenda to prove to the right wing that gays are not killed for being gay, but because they use drugs

  15. Dave says

    It very much matters what really happened. We cannot follow false narratives just because it suits a political or moral preference. If the book is correct, we should accept it. If it is incorrect, we should reject it.

    As far as I can tell, the book is not reliable and stands in stark conflict with the evidence and testimony established to date. I have yet to see what specific evidence Jimenez is relying on to make his claims.

    I do think that the Shepard Foundation is making a huge mistake in saying that it won’t respond. In the very statement in which it claims it won’t respond, it essentially denies the claims in the book. That’s a response.. Since it is responding anyway, it should do so thoroughly, refuting the claims Jimenez makes. This is not some stray comment on the internet. It is a book by a guy with a media background and who is being interviewed by news organizations. If he is lying, then the Shepard Foundation has an obligation to correct the record, and failign to do so lends credence to the book.

  16. David From Canada says

    There is a gay author named Darwin Porter who writes fairly popular biographies about deceased movie stars such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Vivien Leigh, etc. I’ve read some of them and they really are quite entertaining.
    But the fact that the subjects are dead, and important quotes or stories about other people in the book are also dead is very telling. They can’t respond or defend themselves against some of the outrageous claims in the books. These books are amusing to read, but mainly works of fiction.
    The same theory applies to the new book about Matthew Shephard. Any thinking person can tell that it is mainly a work of fiction about a well-known deceased person who cannot respond to the outrageous claims in the book. Don’t bother to read it. Case closed.

  17. JeffNYC says

    It doesn’t matter whether this book is true or not. The book is merely conjecture, bent on injecting doubt into the idea of a hate crime.

    The author has not proof, but he has achieved his goal simply by forcing us to have this conversation.

    But at the end of the day, Matthew Shepard was killed in a hate crime, as are many other gay, lesbian and transgender people.

    Here’s hoping this book comes and goes and is forgotten.

  18. stanhope says

    Well isn’t this special? I have to say that the story never seemed to quite ring true for me from the onset. I agree with the one comment that Matthew Shepard became a symbol in large part because he was white, blonde and the cute boy next door. Had he been otherwise I suspect the entire matter would have been a footnote. It is not impossible for me to believe that there is more to the story than we’ve ever been told. Is Jimenez’s book the entire truth? I don’t know. But I do think that there is truth waiting to be told.

  19. Arthur Corbin says

    Stephen Jimenez has won the Writers Guild of America Award, the Mongerson Award for Investigative Reporting, an Emmy, & fellowships at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
    The Mongerson Award is a $10,000 prize that honors journalists who uncover & correct incomplete, inaccurate or misleading news
    The mission of the Ucross Foundation is to foster fresh & innovative thinking in the visual arts, literature, & music by providing residencies, work space and uninterrupted time to individual artists, writers, & composers.
    Stephen Jimenez is a professional journalist & teacher. Maybe people need to read the book before going off with whatever fantasy they have today.

  20. says

    Anyone who turns against their own community to pander to the enemy is lionized. Just ask Alan Keyes or even Andrew Sullivan — before the conversion. They get MUCH more attention than people who (rightly) agree with the mainstream of any movement.

    Yes. MS did become a poster boy because he was white and cute. But at the same time there was the James Byrd murder, which was not exactly ignored. Gaybashing (and other) hate crimes are different, as several people have commented. They go WAY beyond killing.

    You kill them by stabbing them 100 times after they’re dead. Or you put tires over them and set them afire. Or you drag them behind a truck. Or you put 3 bottles in their ass and smash their heads with a block and light them on fire. Or you tie them to a fence.

    It’s not just murder, “drug-fueled” or other.

    It’s meant not just to kill the person but to send a message to others. Which is why we need a different response than to other crimes. We need to recognize that it is not just a case of “murder is murder.” Hate crimes act like terrorism: they’re intended to strike fear into others.

  21. J says

    I think you guys are missing the point. Had you read the book you’re criticizing, you would see that the implication is that this was “more” than a hate crime, and that Aaron and Matthew knew each other before, and that drugs were a significant part of that relationship. The official story from the case was that Aaron and Russell were “two strangers” – but here in Wyoming, it’s pretty hard to believe that regular patrons of the same bars would not at least know SOMETHING of one another. I’ve always suspected there was more to this story, and I’m grateful that someone took the time to carefully explore the things happening in this state.

    So, before you get your pitchforks all heated up, I suggest reading the book. You may not agree, but as a Wyoming native, the story makes sense. The resulting perspective is more of a humanizing view of Matthew, versus the infallible “symbol” that seems to have been accepted by the masses. We all owe it to ourselves to ask questions, otherwise… what the hell are we fighting for?

  22. Rich says

    Rather than being a “new” story, the book is written by the same person who co-produced the 20/20 piece. It’s the same information regurgitated and trying to pretend it’s verification of the original smear.

  23. Jerry6 says

    Having been alive and active at the time, I know what really happened. This try for money will go down as a disgusting attempt to re-wright history for a buck. He should have waited a few years until we who know are dead.

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