matthew Shepard

Dennis and Judy Shepard
Bob Beck

20 years ago this fall, an openly gay University of Wyoming student was robbed, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and left for dead on the outskirts of Laramie. He died a few days later. The murder of Matthew Shepard was called a hate crime by local law enforcement officers and it lead to worldwide attention on the topic of LGBTQ rights. His parents Dennis and Judy Shepard remain residents of Wyoming and have dedicated themselves to fight discrimination in the name of their son. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck talked to them about a number of topics including what it was like to return to Laramie.

Jewlicious

At the Matthew Shepard Symposium hosted last week at the University of Wyoming, protesters gathered outside with signs denouncing the LGBTQ community. The group was from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, and nearly 20 years ago, they also picketed Matthew Shepard’s funeral.

But inside the symposium, a former Westboro Church member was preparing to speak. Megan Phelps-Roper was there to explain that when she started engaging in civil dialogue over Twitter, her entire worldview changed.

The University of Wyoming’s annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice began Wednesday night. The four-day event was named for Matthew Shepard and the activism of his surviving family members. It features panels and presentations focusing on race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, and social justice issues.

The Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard foundation is delighted that the Supreme Court appears to have opened the door for gay marriage across the country. Jason Marsden notes that 16 years ago tonight/Monday, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tied up, and beaten to within an inch of his life. He died a few days later. 

Marsden believes Shepard's murder helped ignite a new discussion on gay rights that's ultimately led to growing support for same sex marriages.

The common story behind the murder of Matthew Shepard is that he was targeted in Laramie’s fireside bar because he was gay and was the victim of a robbery.  Law enforcement authorities say that Shepard was driven to the edge of Laramie and tied to a fence by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. 

He was then pistol whipped and left for dead.  But for years some say there was more to the crime then that and author Steve Jimenez has explored those rumors.  His book called “The Book of Matt.  Hidden Truths about the murder of Matthew Shepard” paints a different narrative.

The author of a book on Mathew Shepard says his death was related to drugs and not his sexual orientation.  Stephen Jimenez writes that Shepard was involved in the Methamphetamine trade and that his horrific murder was the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

He says Shepard's main killer had been using meth which fueled the attack, an assertion that law enforcement authorities say is not true.