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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.

shepard-matthew

Author Unveils Anti-Gay Matthew Shepard Truther Book on 15th Anniversary of His Murder

3 Oct

shepard-matthew15 years ago, I was walking through the student union of my college when I saw a TV with a news story about a young man in Laramie Wyoming who’d been found badly beaten – and left for dead.

That young man was Matthew Shepard. His grisly murder not only acted as a lightning rod for our community, but it also caused many, including myself, to come out and be counted.

Over the years, the media has tried digging deeper on this story only to be debunked at every conspiracy theory they could unearth. One of the first conspiracy theories around Matthew’s murder came from author Stephen Jiminez. In 2000, just 2 years after Matthew’s murder, Jiminez came across an anonymous letter claiming that Matthew was essentially in a sexual relationship with his murderer, Aaron McKinney. Despite McKinney’s denial of this, despite none of Matthew’s friends or family ever having seen McKinney in their lives prior to the murder and despite not even knowing who wrote this letter, Jiminez thought it necessary to craft a fiction about Matthew Shepard.

The brilliant Media Matters thoroughly debunks “The Book of Matt,” including Jiminez’ own background with the story, every one of his sources (many of whom are “anonymous,”), and his dismissal that Matt’s murder had anything to do with his sexuality despite taped confessions from the killer repeatedly referring to Matt as “the fag” and “the queer.”

Dozens of reputable bookstores around the country are not only stocking this innuendo-filled book, but they’ve invited Jiminez to speak and sell his book to more people.

Last week, I spoke with Bradley Graham at DC’s Politics & Prose – one of the few decent independent booksellers in the city. While grateful that I brought this to their attention, they refused to cancel the event. In a follow-up email to me, Brad dismissed my concerns that the book was full of lies by stating:

“As an independent bookstore, P&P has long played a role as more than just a retail outlet; it’s also an established forum for community discussion on a broad range of topics. In a democracy like ours, such forums are essential. Citizens must have opportunities to hear diverse and sometimes divergent views and to engage in respectful debate about them, even if those views are controversial. As long as this dialogue remains civil and considerate, we will stay committed to holding events featuring a wide universe of books and reflecting many different perspectives.”

Please read the above article from Media Matters on just how hurtful this book is to the LGBT community. Then check the list of readings here and see if one of your local bookstores is hosting a reading. Drop them a line and let them know that they are giving a platform to someone who is spreading lies, rumor and conjecture which are aimed at spitting on the grave of Matthew Shepard.

I’ve done the work of finding phone numbers for all scheduled book events for Mr. Jiminez. Please make the calls and let the stores know what’s going on. Most probably have no idea.

10/8/13 

Harvard Coop
1400 Massachussetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02238

1-800-368-1882

10/9/13

Politics & Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

(202) 364-1919

10/10/13

CARMICHAELS BOOKSTORE
2720 FRANKFORT AVE
LOUISVILLE-JEFFERSON COUN, KY 40206-2769

(502) 896-6950

10/12/13

Iowa City Book Festival
Iowa City, IA 52240

http://www.iowacitybookfestival.org/contact/

10/14/13

Sarasota1Bookstore
1359 Main Street
Sarasota, FL 34236

941-365-7900

10/15/13

Books and Books
265 Aragon Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134

305.442.4408

10/16/13

Inkwood Books
216 S. Armenia
Tampa, FL 33609

(813) 253-2638

10/19/13

MADISON PUBLIC LIBRARY – MARY VAUGHN/ORDER DEPT
126 S. HAMILTON STREET
MADISON, WI 53703-3210

608-266-6300

10/21/13

Auntie’s Bookstore
402 W Main
Spokane, WA 99201

(509) 838-0206

10/22/13

University Book Store
4326 University Way, N.E.
Seattle, WA 98105

(206) 634-3400

10/23/13

Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

(206) 366-3333

10/24/13

Powell’s Books
1005 W. Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97210

503-228-4651

10/29/13

Copperfield Books
138 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472

(707) 823-2618

10/30/13

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

310-659-3110

11/1/13

The King’s English Bookshop
1511 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

(801) 484-9100

11/3/13

BOULDER BOOKSTORE
1107 PEARL ST
BOULDER, CO 80302-5103

(303) 447-2074

11/4/13

Tattered Cover
2526 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206

303-322-7727

11/5/13

Old Firehouse Books
232 Walnut St
Fort Collins, CO 80524

(970) 484-7898

11/6/13

Bookworks
4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107

(505) 344-8139

11/7/13

COLLECTED WORKS BOOKSTORE
202 GALISTEO ST
SANTA FE AIRPORT, NM 87501-2101

(505) 988-4226

11/12/13

BookPeople
603 North Lamar
Austin, TX 78703

(512) 472-5050

11/13/13

The Twig Book Shop
306 Pearl Parkway, Ste 106
San Antonio, TX 78215

210-826-6411

11/14/13

BRAZOS BOOKSTORE INC.
2421 BISSONNET ST
HOUSTON, TX 77005-1451

(713) 523-0701

11/18/13

SUBTEXT A BOOKSTORE
165 WESTERN AVE N STE 14
SAINT PAUL, MN 55102-4613

(651) 493-3871

11/19/13

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA BKSTR COFFMAN MEMORIAL UNION
300 WASHINGTON AVE SE
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55455-0371

(612) 625-6000

11/20/13

BOSWELL BOOK COMPANY LLC DANIEL GOLDIN
2559 N DOWNER AVE
MILWAUKEE, WI 53211-4242

(414) 332-1181

11/22/13

BOOK CELLAR
4736 N LINCOLN AVE # 38
CHICAGO, IL 60625-2089

(773) 293-2665

Did he see the stars over Laramie?

7 Oct

Every year, I re-post the same story about Matthew Shepard. It’s a brief reminder so that the people I know and love don’t forget who he is and the incredible moves forward we’ve made in memory of him.

Tonight, I ran across someone who re-blogged the story and they attached a video from YouTube. It’s a brief interview with Matthew which I’ve never seen. Actually, despite having worked with Matthew’s mom, Judy on several events I produced for their foundation, I’ve actually never seen video footage of Matt.

As brief as the footage is, it hit me hard. I’ve never seen Matt speaking, never heard his voice.

When the tragedy happened, I was starting my sophomore year in college. I wasn’t out to anyone. I remember watching the stories on a TV in my college campus center and so desperately wanting to tell someone how upset, how scared I was.

Let’s be honest, I was doing musicals and I’d never really dated any girls, so it was no surprise when I finally did come out but for me, I was still terrified someone might find out – especially after what happened to Matt. I know I wasn’t alone in that and that this is the reason for the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. When something like this happens, it terrorizes more than just the victim of the crime.

Tonight, 14 years ago, Matt was laying in a field, tied to a fence, beaten and bloodied, staring at the stars over the Wyoming sky as he lost consciousness. I like to think that there was a moment before he closed his eyes, that the pain went away and he was able see the stars and know he was loved.

14 years ago today

6 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.

Matthew Shepard: 13 years ago today

6 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.

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