Today Marks 15 Years Since Matthew Shepard Was Attacked

Matthew[October is LGBT History Month and to celebrate, Queerty’s gaying up each day with our 31 Days of Queerstory.]


It’s difficult to believe that 15 years have passed since Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student, was brutally beaten and left dead on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. When shocking news of his eventual death from head injuries on October 12 reached the nation, LGBT people gathered en masse to mourn the loss with candlelit vigils around the country. During the past decade and a half Shepard’s name has become synonymous with horrific hate crimes against LGBT people. Numerous books have been written and plays and films have been produced about Shepard’s brief life but perhaps his enduring impact is how the senseless loss of his life has spurred his devoted mother Judy to become a tireless advocate for LGBT equality.

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  • boring

    Every time I see those Matthew Shepard pictures that have been bandied about for the last 15 minutes, all I can think of was I would totally fuck that dude.

  • boring

    15 minutes? 15 years.


  • Stache1

    @boring: Yeah, because really that’s all that ever matters??

  • Dxley

    White, blond, cute, gay, whore, crack head!

    How awesome. Something tells me that this boy looked for trouble throughout his entire life but trouble found him when he least expected it. But RIP, Matt. You’re missed!

  • Ron Jackson

    No one deserves to be treated the way Matthew was. No matter what his real or alleged shortcomings were.

  • Hermes

    @Dxley: There is no robust evidence whatsoever that Matthew was a “whore” or a “crack head” – even the argument made by detractors who want to remove him from the equation because he has helped gay rights is that he used meth, not crack.

    Regardless, there is no robust evidence whatsoever to back any of your charges.


  • Charlie in Charge

    Rest in peace, Matthew.

    I don’t know what I should expect from comments but for some reason I thought people could restrain themselves when it came to a murder victim. Dxley and Boring – try to be better people.

  • Ron Jackson

    @Charlie in Charge: I doubt those two are part of OUR community. More likely just trolls trying to derail the discussion. They might even be the same person.

  • curan

    “Do not speak ill of the dead,” would be appropriate for an individual, but not for a movement made from an individual.

    There are doubts about the relationship between these young men, and the motivations for their crimes:


    “But it turns out, according to Jiminez, that Shepard was a meth dealer himself and he was friends and sex partners with the man who led in his killing. Indeed, his killer may have killed him because Shepard allegedly came into possession of a large amount of methamphetamine and refused to give it up.”

    “…According to The Advocate, one of the premier gay publications in the country, Jiminez ‘amassed enough anecdotal evidence to build a persuasive case that Shepard’s sexuality was, if not incidental, certain less central than popular consensus had lead us to believe.'”


    It is not difficult to find discrimination, but this might not have been the best choice.

  • 2eo

    @curan: Get stuffed, Andrew Breitbart’s site and Newsbusters is the best you could manage, I have some David Icke links that prove beyond doubt Obama is a muslim space lizard from beyond the Delta Quadrant.

    Speaking of Brietbart, I was part of the Usenet group that knows what really happened to Andrew.

  • curan

    @2eo: If you’d stop taking your liberal hate pills long enough to actually read 3 paragraphs, you might realize that this book was written by a gay journalist and was positively reviewed by The Advocate:


    Just because information originates from conservative media, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Have a look at the other side of the fence once in a while; it makes you a more rounded person, and files down those sharp edges. And you appear to have a few.

  • 2eo

    @curan: You mean a gay journalist that had a restraining order placed against him, who is a known GOP toady and right wing lunatic.

    Yeah, no.

    What he has to say is worthless, less than worthless anyway.

  • curan

    @2eo: I really didn’t know anything about Matthew Shepard, but now I’ve read his wiki:


    “In February 1995, during a high school trip to Morocco, Shepard was beaten and raped, causing him to experience depression and panic attacks, according to his mother. One of Shepard’s friends feared that his depression had driven him to become involved with drugs during his time in college.”

    From this, we know there were drug issues.

    Next I read this attempt to debunk the biography:


    It seems clear from the information presented that all the parties were meth users. Whether they were dealers is food for conjecture and innuendo.

    In any case, rather than an unprovoked attack on a stranger, it seems likely that this is Breaking Bad with a gay subplot.

    But, then again, conservative websites were involved, so it all has to be wrong.

  • curan

    @2eo: Let’s try another source. Both used meth, and they knew one another.


    But Shepard’s killers, in their first interview since their convictions, tell “20/20’s” Elizabeth Vargas that money and drugs motivated their actions that night, not hatred of gays.

    McKinney received a malpractice settlement of nearly $100,000 after his mother’s death. He says he spent most of that money on things like cars and drugs.

    McKinney admits to Vargas that by the time he was 18 he had a serious methamphetamine habit.

    Tom O’Connor, known as “Doc,” who ran a limousine service and sometimes drove Shepard, said just days before Shepard’s death, Matt told him he was HIV-positive and was considering suicide.

    “Aaron and I had been awake for about a week or so prior to this whole thing happening,” Bopp said. “We were on a hard-core bender that week.”

    Bopp also admits that a week before the murder he was so desperate for methamphetamine, that he traded McKinney a .357-Magnum pistol in exchange for one gram of methamphetamine. McKinney would later use that weapon to beat Shepard.

    McKinney said, “Sometimes when you have that kind of rage going through you, there’s no stopping it. I’ve attacked my best friends coming off of meth binges.”

    McKinney took Shepard’s wallet and his shoes, got back in the truck and told Henderson to drive to town. He says his plan was to burglarize Shepard’s apartment. But when they parked the truck they encountered two young men who police say were vandalizing cars. Hostile words led to a fight and for the second time that night, McKinney went on the attack.

    One of the men was struck so hard his skull was fractured. The injured man’s friend retaliated, slamming McKinney in the head with a small bat. Everyone fled, just before a police car happened on the scene.

    Sgt. Flint Waters gave chase and grabbed Henderson. Then he discovered some key evidence that would later be used to link Henderson and McKinney to the attack on Shepard.

    Former Laramie Police Detective Ben Fritzen, one of the lead investigators in the case, also believed robbery was the primary motive. “Matthew Shepard’s sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn’t the motive in the homicide,” he said.

    Asked directly whether he targeted and attacked Shepard because he was gay, McKinney told Vargas, “No. I did not. … I would say it wasn’t a hate crime. All I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him.”

    Another widely held belief about the case is that McKinney and Shepard had never met before their fateful encounter at the Fireside Lounge. But a number of sources tell “20/20” the two were not strangers.

    “Everybody knew Matt Shepard was a partier just like Aaron, just like the rest of us,” said Bopp.

    In fact, Bopp said he had seen Shepard and McKinney together at parties. “Aaron was selling [drugs] and him and Matt would go off to the side and they’d come back. And Matt would be doing some meth then,” he said.

    A bartender familiar with the local drug scene, who asked to be identified only as “Jean,” says she was friendly with Shepard. She also says McKinney and Shepard knew each other.

    When she learned of the beating, she said, she recalls thinking, “It’s either money or dope, yeah. He’d be the perfect target especially because Aaron knew him.”

    Another Laramie resident, Elaine Baker, says she also saw McKinney and Shepard together in a social situation. Several weeks before the murder, she spent a night on the town in Doc O’Connor’s limousine with a group that included both McKinney and Shepard.

    “In the back of the limo, there was me, Stephanie, Doc, Aaron, Matthew Shepard,” she said.

    This was a night of Breaking Bad, not discrimination.

  • Rob

    @boring: “all I can think of was I would totally fuck that dude.”

    Which is probably why he was made into a martyr figure by Gay Inc. and a compliant media. If he was a 50 y/o bear or chub, the story would’ve never made it outside WY. As a thought exercise, name the victims of Andrew Cunanan without looking.

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