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04/19/2007


20 Ole Miss Football Players Heckle 'Laramie Project' Production, Call Students 'Fags'

Approximately 20 Ole Miss football players were involved in a mass heckling incident at a University of Mississippi production of The Laramie Project, the Moises Kaufman play about the Matthew Shepard murder.

The Daily Mississippian reports: Olemiss

According to the play's director and theater faculty member Rory Ledbetter, some audience members used derogatory slurs like "fag" and heckled both cast members and the characters they were portraying for their body types and sexual orientations. Ledbetter said the audience's reactions included "borderline hate speech."

The football players were at the play because of a theater course requirement.

Said Ledbetter:

"The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night. But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn't know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things."

Junior theater major Garrison Gibbons said the incident offered a real-life example of the play's subject matter: “I am the only gay person on the cast. I played a gay character in the show, and to be ridiculed like that was something that really made me realize that some people at Ole Miss and in Mississippi still can’t accept me for who I am.”


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 money.

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.


Author: Matthew Shepard's Killer Was His Bisexual Lover And Fellow Drug Dealer - VIDEO

Stephen

In a new book by Stephen Jimenez entitled, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, Jimenez puts forward a different telling of the events and motivations surrounding Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998. Jimenez recently sat down with Andrew Sullivan and The Dish to discuss the book.

Jimenez reveals that he first became interested in Matthew's story as he was researching a screenplay he was writing on Matthew's murder. However, upon settling into Laramie and starting to dig into the details of the murder, Jimenez quickly began to suspect that there was more to the story than what was being played out in the press and in the courtroom.

Early on, he claims he found proof that "Aaron McKinney had been a male hustler, had been familiar with gay guys and gay bars" and "that he really did like having sex with gay guys and that he was not unfamiliar with homosexuality and the gay world," which in Jimenez's mind at least seemed to contradict the "gay panic" defense that McKinney's lawyers were putting forth. What began as a trip to "fill in some color and detail" for a screenplay turned into a "13-year investigative obsession," according to Kirkus reviews:

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.

Check out the full interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Author: Matthew Shepard's Killer Was His Bisexual Lover And Fellow Drug Dealer - VIDEO" »


Iowa High School Principal Bans 'The Laramie Project', Says It's 'Too Adult'

Superintendent

A high school principal and superintendent in Ottumwa, Iowa are denying the students the right to perform The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman's play about the hate crime murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard.

ShepardWatch The Heartland's Connection report on the controversy, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Ottumwa Courier reports:

"None of us can understand why they are shying away from it," said Jordan Young, 16, a student who is secretary of the OHS drama club. "The principal [of OHS] wants to get away from bullying, and he has initiatives he really [pushes]. So to hit so hard on a show that addresses bullying, it makes no sense."

She said other students she's met with feel similarly. "We were all confused more than anything," she said. "We didn't understand what was wrong with it. The planning started in October of last year. We have auditions in a month and a half!" She said students believe the problem lies in the subject of the play.

The Heartland Connection adds:

OHS Principal Mark Hanson denied the play from being performed through the school’s drama department. We reached out to Principal Hanson but he did not want to go on camera but he said “the play is too adult for a high school production but it does preach a great message.”

Ottumwa Community School’s Superintendent Davis Eidahl (pictured, top) says he fully supports Principal Hanson’s decision. “We really want the focus of our Ottumwa High School productions to be for the entire family,” said Eidahl.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation released a statement, which reads, in part:

This is not a play about being gay, or promoting anyone being gay; it’s about being targeted, hurt, murdered for being different, or perceived to be different, whatever that difference may be – and how this affects the community.

It is regrettable that the administration decided not to take the lead to provide their students and their community such an important learning opportunity, and instead is focused on a desire to show off their auditorium in what they feel is a “family-friendly” manner. We respectfully suggest that the main mission of a school district is to educate, not to entertain.

Watch The Heartland's Connection report on the controversy, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Iowa High School Principal Bans 'The Laramie Project', Says It's 'Too Adult'" »


A Huge Round-Up of Celeb Reactions to SCOTUS Rulings On DOMA, Prop. 8: VIDEO

Marc

Today's rulings issued by the Supreme Court have certainly elicited strong reactions from friends and foes of marriage equality. 

Judy_shepardJudy Shepard, LGBT advocate and mother of Matthew Shepard, reflected upon a conversation she had with Matthew about marriage equality:

"After Matt came out to me, he once asked me if I thought gay couples would ever be allowed to get married. I told him I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, but it probably would in his. It’s so sad and ironic that it turned out the other way. But this case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true. Dennis and I look forward to the day when loving, committed couples are able to marry in every state.”

AppleApple, which filed an Amicus brief in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case, along with many other major corporations, issued a statement today, expressing its support for the rulings that were handed down:

"Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today."

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in a joint statement issued with San Francisco's Archbishop Salvitore Cordileone, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, expressed his disapproval: 

“Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so."

The fashion industry has been practically unanimous in its support for the in-roads made today in the battle for marriage equality, with Isaac Mizrazhi declaring "HOORAY!," and Marc Jacobs unfurling new celebratory window dressings (pictured above), replete with the popular phrase, "love is love."

WynneCanada's only openly gay premier, Kathleen Wynne of Ontario, remarked, "I am so happy for our neighbours to the south," calling today's rulings, "an important step."

Glenn Beck and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul discussed their fear that we might now be heading down a road to state-sanctioned polygamy. Outgoing Rep. Michelle Bachman bemoaned the victories for marriage equality, noting, “no man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted." To which Nancy Pelosi pithily responded, "Who cares?"

RuPaul, meanwhile, delcared today a double elimination: "I'm sending you both home. #DOMA and #Prop8, sashay away!"

GagaLady Gaga noted the work that still needs to be done to achieve full equality, given the somewhat limited nature of the court's ruling, tweeting: "Who will be our Abe Lincoln today? Who will make the choice of FREEDOM FOR ALL."

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand echoed the sentiment: "Congress must finish the job #SCOTUS started by repealing #DOMA in full. Join me & @DailyKos in urging Congress to act http://t.co/EQlFEreIOy"

Marriage equality advocate Chris Kluwe referenced the DOMA ruling in particular, noting, "Giving states the right to decide on issues means nothing if they disenfranchise certain populations."

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who has long fought for marriage equality in his own state, commented, "I applaud #SCOTUS for striking down #DOMA & affirming that the way forward is always found through equal rights & respect for human dignity."

Senator Jim DeMint called attention to what he believes will be the likely aftermath of the day's events: "The debate about marriage will continue after today and states will lead the way."

2_ricky_martinProud papa Ricky Martin celebrated on twitter, proclaiming, "🎉🎉🎉🎉#SCOTUS Justice for all! #DOMA IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉"

And of course, our most beloved comedians and comediennes weighed in on the news.

Seth Meyers aptly advised, "DOMA and Prop 8 should get married."

Neil Patrick Harris, ever the musically-inclined commentator, quipped, "DOMA-it-just-lost-O Mr. Roboto! So, so happy for Edie, et al."

Meanwhile, Lena Dunham and Joan Rivers had their minds on the actual business of getting married, with Dunham remarking, "Don't wanna traffic in stereotypes but let's be real: I'm gonna love a gay wedding" and Rivers suggesting, "Any straight person complaining about the Supreme Court striking down DOMA should be forced to hire a heterosexual wedding planner."

Check out  a video of ABC weatherman Sam Champion discussing his "heart-pounding" response to today's news (warning: autoplay) AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "A Huge Round-Up of Celeb Reactions to SCOTUS Rulings On DOMA, Prop. 8: VIDEO" »


Powerful Anti-Hate Ad Imagines What Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard, and Others Would Be Like Today: VIDEO

Milk

A powerful new ad from the Anti-Defamation League takes a look at a number of well-known figures whose lives were cut short by hate, imagining what their lives might be like today. MLK Jr., Anne Frank, Harvey Milk, Daniel Pearl, James Byrd, JR., Matthew Shepard, and Yitzhak Rabin are included in the ad which marks the organization's centennial year.

The ad is set, appropriately, to the music of John Lennon.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Shepard

Continue reading "Powerful Anti-Hate Ad Imagines What Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard, and Others Would Be Like Today: VIDEO" »


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