It’s well worth reading a story in the Guardian/Observer today about the famous and horrifying murder of Matthew Shepard. The Guardian is a left-leaning paper, but it is not American and therefore has some interest in the actual truth of the affair, as opposed to the propaganda. And it largely echoes the superb reporting of Steve Jimenez, whose book, The Book of Matt, proved to anyone not blinded by agit-prop that this awful crime was committed not be “redneck” strangers, but by a couple of Shepard’s acquaintances, one of whom had been his lover, who were eager to get access to crystal meth they believed Shepard had access to. (For the full Dish coverage of the book see here.)
The author, Julie Bindel, does some reporting of her own. She quotes, for example, the cop who nabbed one of the killers:
“I believe to this day that McKinney and Henderson were trying to find Matthew’s house so they could steal his drugs. It was fairly well known in the Laramie community that McKinney wouldn’t 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 didn’t fit – none of that made any sense.”
Ted Henson is a former lover and long-term friend of Matthew’s. The pair originally met when Matt was growing up in Saudi Arabia. Henson told me he believes that The Book of Matt is “nothing more than the truth” and that he was “never certain” that the murder was an anti-gay hate crime. “I don’t know why there is so much hostility towards Steve,” he told me. “Matt would not have wanted to be seen as a martyr, but would have wanted the truth to come out.”
What’s truly remarkable about this book is not that, like many before it, it exposes the truth behind a useful myth. It is the reaction of the gay establishment to these difficult truths. The Book Of Matt insists on the horrifying nature of the crime; it had no pre-existing agenda; it’s written by an award-winning reporter who is also a gay man. (The Wyoming Historical Society also gave it an award.) What it does is expose a real problem in the gay male world – especially at the time of the murder: the nexus of sex and meth that destroyed and still destroys so many lives.
So what does the Matthew Shepard Foundation say in response to the book?
I asked for a reaction regarding the book, but was sent a pre-prepared statement by executive director Jason Marsden, who was a friend of Matthew’s. “We do not respond to innuendo, rumor or conspiracy theories,” reads the statement first issued when The Book of Matt was published. “Instead we remain committed to honoring Matthew’s memory and refuse to be intimidated by those who seek to tarnish it.”
They won’t even address the book. Recently, an editorial in the Casper Star Tribune, without addressing any of the factual claims in the book, continued to smear Jimenez, equating the book’s thesis to conspiracy theories about the moon-landing and describing the paperback edition as “poison made portable.” The New York Times, for its part, refused to review it. Those who made a small fundraising fortune off the myth – like the Human Rights Campaign (natch) – will never acknowledge the truth. But the book is its own best defense. The paperback has a new Afterword by Jimemez. You can buy it here – and I highly recommend that you do.