15 years ago today.

7 Oct


On October 7, 1998, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bike through a field in Wyoming. He wasn’t expecting that day to be different from any other beautiful sunny afternoon in the vast plains surrounding Laramie, but that day would change many lives.

Aaron spotted what he initially thought was a scarecrow next to a fence. Then he noticed a glisten of blood. The sun sparkled on what he barely recognized as a face. What Aaron had discovered was the 22 year-old Matthew Shepard, clinging to life.

Most of you know what happened next. Matthew held on for five more days and as his parents held his hand and prayed, Matthew slipped away quietly on October 12th, leaving in his wake a new movement for equality.

The outcries for justice and for greater protections were immediate and resonating.

Since then, Matthew’s mother Judy has made it her personal mission to protect all young LGBT people from Matthew’s horrific fate. In founding the Matthew Shepard Foundation, she has created safe spaces in and outside of schools for kids, and worked with parents to ensure their children learn to erase hate from their lives.

But overwhelmingly what you saw in 1998 was a community ready to act, ready to change something. And Matthew’s story was the catalyst for that. Many of you have seen or read the Moises Kaufman play, The Laramie Project – Matthew’s story as told through interviews of those who were living in Laramie at the time – some of his friends and some who just happened to be riding a bike through the plains of Wyoming that day. If you think of nothing else today, please consider the importance of telling your story – how your story can change the world around you.

This young boy, unbeknownst to him, has changed the world with his.

Now, on the 15th anniversary of his murder, author Stephen Jiminez has released a book denying the hate crime that took place here. Based entirely on innuendo, Jiminez is doing his best to attack the memory of a boy who gave me the strength to tell the world who I am. Please join me in asking bookstores to cancel his appearances by signing this petition. Using the 15th anniversary of this horrific event to sell books is beyond the pale.


2 Responses to “15 years ago today.”

  1. abesheet October 28, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    Is that the gay-kid who falsely accused a couple of men of raping him before he got killed? I’m sorry to say but I find it kind of hared to feel sorry for him.

    • Jamie McGonnigal October 28, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      Nope. Matt didn’t falsely accuse anyone of raping him. He was raped in Morrocco several months before he was murdered. But by all means, don’t feel bad for a gay kid that was brutally bwaten and left for dead, tied to a fence.

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