In announcing the State Department’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, Secretary of State John Kerry invoked the name of Matthew Shepard, a gay young man who was murdered many years ago and whose death remains an iconic moment for those fighting against LGBT discrimination.
I will never forget standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1998 to honor Matthew Shepard, a young man killed just because he was gay. His mother, Judy, had a profound lesson for all of us: Loving one another doesn’t require us to compromise our beliefs. Love only demands that we choose compassion over intolerance. We have made considerable progress since Matthew Shepard’s murder, but we have a long road still to travel across the globe.
The murder of Matthew Shepard, however, was thoroughly debunked a year ago in a book by an investigative journalist who spent ten years looking into the secret life of Shepard and his friends and colleagues.
Shepard was not murdered by a total stranger because he was gay. Rather, he was murdered by a fellow drug dealer with whom Shepard often had sexual relations.
The myth of Matthew Shepard continues unabated within the LGBT community. A documentary about his life and death premiered at the LGBT Human Rights Campaign a month ago.