So why has he put such time and effort into attempting to prove that Matthews murder was not a hate crime, especially as it has seen him accused of being an ally to the rightwing Christian fundamentalists who deny the reality of homophobia? The view was that homophobic rednecks walked into a bar and saw an obviously gay man with money and targeted him and beat him to death for that reason, says Jimenez. But that isnt what happened. Nothing in this book takes away from the iniquity and brutality of the crime or the culpability of his murderers, but we owe matthew and other young men like him the truth. Aaron and Matthew had a friendship. Theyd been involved sexually, they bought and sold drugs from each other. That complicates the original story of two strangers walking into a bar and targeting Matthew someone they did not know because he was gay. Although McKinney has never acknowledged that he knew Matthew, jimenez improve found a dozen sources that had seen them together. One is Kathleen Johnson, the former owner of Laramie antiques store Grannys Attic, who knew Henderson, McKinney and Matthew.
It was fairly well known in the laramie community that internet McKinney wouldnt be one that was striking out of a sense of homophobia. Some of the officers I worked with had caught him in a sexual act with another man, so it didnt fit none of that made any sense. But when Matthews friends Walt boulden and Alex Trout heard of the attack they rushed to the hospital. They contacted the Associated Press and a number of local gay organisations that same day. Boulden, a 46-year-old college instructor who says he was the last person to talk to matthew before he met McKinney and Henderson, linked the attack to wyoming legislatures failure to pass a hate-crimes bill. Boulden later said the assault was identified as a hate crime by a policeman. Stephen Jimenez is an award-winning journalist and gay man.
I did the best I could. After leaving Matthew tied to the fence, mcKinney and Henderson headed for Matthews home, but on the way encountered two young Hispanic men, Emiliano morales and Jeremy herrera, slashing tyres for fun. The men got into a fight, resulting in McKinney cracking open Moraless head with the same gun he had used on Matthew. Police officer Flint Waters arrived, grabbed Henderson (he and McKinney had run in different directions and found the truck, the gun, matthews shoes and credit card. I spoke to waters, who has since retired from the police, having seen him praise. The book of Matt on social media. I believe to this day that McKinney and Henderson were trying to find Matthews house so they could steal his drugs.
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On the evening of, matthew went to the fireside bar, a local hangout that was purportedly gay-friendly. It was karaoke night, and locals rubbed shoulders with workers calling in for a swift drink on their way home. Shortly afterwards Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney arrived. The three men chatted briefly before leaving the bar and getting in a truck belonging to McKinneys father. In the truck matthew was robbed of his keys, wallet and shoes and beaten repeatedly by one or both of the men. He was then taken from the truck, pistol whipped up to 18 times on the head, and kicked between the legs.
Matthew was tied to a fence, set on fire, and left unconscious. Fifteen hours after the attack, student Aaron Kreifels statement was out riding his bike when he discovered Matthew tied to the fence, barely alive. He initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matthews face was covered in blood, aside from tear tracks on each side of his cheeks. The first officer at the scene was Reggie fluty. The only thing I could see was partially somebodys feet and I got out of my vehicle and raced over, said Fluty, her short blonde hair, fringe, and wire-rimmed glasses making her appear more social worker than police officer. I seen what appeared to be to a young man, 13, 14 years old, because he was so tiny, laying on his back, and he was tied to the bottom end of a pole.
There were no American high schools in saudi at the time, so he was sent to the American School in Switzerland. By the time he enrolled at Laramie he spoke three languages and had aspirations to be a human-rights advocate. Somewhere along the line, however, matthew fell from being a grade-a student to a drug-addicted prostitute who diced with danger. He suffered periods of depression, possibly as a result of being gang raped a few years earlier while on holiday in Morocco. But this is not the matthew Shepard who became a celebrated figure for the gay-rights movement in America.
Laramie is considered the most liberal town in wyoming. It sits in a flat, treeless sweep of high plains. With the ranching industry in decline, employment here is dominated by the University of wyoming. It has a quaint western charm: tree-lined streets, beautiful parks, and a renovated historic downtown at the edge of the railway yard with small shops and restaurants. It is surrounded by rolling prairie, ranches, the Snowy mountain range and vast, wide-open spaces. But the town also has a number of mobile home parks at the edges, some more rundown than others.
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This does not make the perfect poster boy for the gay-rights movement, says Jimenez. Which is a big part of the reason my book has been so trashed. Matthews drug abuse, and the fact that he knew one of his killers prior to the attack, was never explored in court. Neither was the rumour that the killers knew that he had access to a shipment of crystal meth with a street value of 10,000 which they wanted to steal. Matthew was born into an affluent family and had attended essay state school in Casper, wyoming. The 21-year-old political science major at Laramie university stood only 5ft 2in, and his blond hair, braces and slight frame gave him an air of vulnerability and innocence. In his junior year of high school, matthew moved with his family to saudi Arabia.
Grade-a student: Matthew Shepard was just 5ft 2in and his slight frame gave him an air of vulnerability. Jimenez had no intention of causing such controversy. Hes an award-winning writer and tv producer, and visited Laramie shortly after the murder to gather material for a screenplay about the case. When he started he was convinced that Matthew died at the hands of homophobes, but he soon discovered that Matthews tragedy began long before the night he was killed. Jimenez found that Matthew was addicted to and dealing crystal meth and had dabbled in heroin. He also took significant sexual risks and was being pimped alongside aaron McKinney, one of his killers, with national whom hed had occasional sexual encounters. He was hiv positive at the time of his death.
the surrounding area at the time of Matthews. This new theory has, understandably, caused a lot of anger. Jimenez has faced a barrage of criticism since the publication of his book and has had readings to promote the book boycotted. Jimenez claims, however, that many of his critics have not actually read. The Advocate, americas leading lgbt magazine, published a piece last year entitled: Why Im Not reading the Trutherism About Matt Shepard. Jimenez has been accused of being a revisionist, a criticism usually reserved for extreme rightwing ideologues that deny the holocaust, and labelled a homophobe. People object to the idea of the book, rather than what is in the book, says Jimenez. The anger directed at me has been pretty extreme.
The Shepard family have become campaigners for gay rights. Judy and Dennis Shepard run the. Matthew Shepard foundation, which funds educational programmes and an online community for teens to discuss sexual orientation and gender issues. There have been numerous documentaries, dramas, books and events based on the story. The men responsible for his death were convicted of first-degree murder and given two life sentences. They were not charged with a hate crime, as that wasnt possible under wyomings criminal law. But after lengthy wrangling in congress, President Obama finally signed the matthew Shepard Act in 2009, a law which defined certain attacks motivated by victim identity as hate crimes. But the matthew Shepard story is not yet finished. A new twist came last year with the publication of another book, this one by investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez, who has spent 13 years interviewing more than 100 people with a connection to the case.
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The horrific killing of Matthew Shepard in 1998 william is widely seen as one of the worst anti-gay hate crimes in American history. Matthew was beaten by two assailants, aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. They pistol whipped him with a gun then tied him to a fence in freezing conditions and set fire to him before leaving him to die. The attack became a cause célèbre: it precipitated a national backlash against hyper-macho culture and tacit tolerance of homophobia. As a result of Matthews death, many good things have happened for the gay community. The laramie project has toured the us and many other countries, telling Matthews story and encouraging campaigns against bigotry. Politicians and celebrities pledged support and funding to combat anti-gay hate crime.