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My research suggests that Aaron had a set of reasons and motives for robbing Matthew, and that Russell did not. On the most basic level, Aaron and Matthew had a troubled relationship before the night of the crime.


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The two men were friends before Aaron and Russell became friends. But Aaron had previous run-ins with Matthew. The idea that Russell hates gay people is preposterous to me.

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What impact do you hope to have on readers of The Book of Matt? I wrote the book for many reasons.

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He was a young man with dreams and aspirations, whom many people loved; he was also lonely and suffered a lot of inner struggle, as many young people do. Matthew was a complicated human being. His murder haunted me but so did his life — his life even more so. If so, how? When did things begin to take a dangerous turn, not just for Matthew but also for Aaron and Russell — and so many other young people like them?

On the surface, and in the shorthand of the media, their lives seemed so different. But the closer I got to their stories, the more parallels I noticed, especially emotionally and psychologically. All three felt somewhat lost and ungrounded in their lives — to varying degrees, of course—but each of them wanted to belong to something or to someone. There was also an undercurrent of desperation there. That helped explain in part how they got involved in some of the relationships they did, and how they eventually got in way over their heads.

But this is not simply a matter of sexual identity — the issue of whether one is straight, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. How do we decide the kind of person we want to be in the world?

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And how do we develop the skills to get there? In the aftermath of the attack on Matthew, there were a lot of conversations, both public and private, about how gay people were treated in America. There was a lot of important soul searching. But what was left out? What was missed? I hope The Book of Matt is an opportunity to resume a part of the conversation that got dropped at the time.

The book is full of references to the role of the media. Why did you decide to tell the story this way? And it all happened very, very quickly, without much in-depth reporting or reflection. It was a whistleblower. Similarly, the public was given what I think of as the Disney version of the tragedy in Laramie. Do we want to know what really happened to Matthew and understand why, or do we want to console ourselves with a mythologized version that leaves out important truths?

I wrote The Book of Matt in order to grapple with some of these questions. These are just some of the issues touched on in the book. Drug abuse is a central theme in The Book of Matt , especially the dangerous underworld surrounding methamphetamine. What connections did you find between meth use in a town like Laramie and some urban gay communities? Ten years ago when I began to grasp the corrosive impact of meth not just in Laramie but also throughout the whole state of Wyoming and the Midwest, I was stunned.

At that time, the topic was of little interest to the national media. As it turned out, the meth underworld in Laramie and the meth underworld in Denver, where Matthew had lived previously, were connected. One of the reasons I decided to write The Book of Matt is to make readers aware of the devastation caused by meth in the lives of so many people, including several characters in the book. What shocked me most was learning about meth-fueled rage and violence — the kind of uncontrolled rage that Aaron McKinney inflicted on Matthew Shepard.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: Devin R. Wilkie Steerforth Press devin steerforth. By wearing No. Before coming out publicly, Collins wore No. The media began reporting the attack on Shepard as an anti-gay hate crime while the year-old was still fighting for his life in the hospital, before the police had even launched an investigation. Cal Rerucha, the prosecutor who put McKinney and Henderson away for life, is convinced the murder resulted from a drug-related robbery gone tragically wrong. None of these details diminishes the important symbolic message Jason Collins is conveying by wearing No.

Violence, hatred and homophobia of many varieties still exist in our society, and must be confronted unflinchingly. In when Matthew Shepard was killed, Wyoming and several other states were in the early throes of a meth epidemic that has had a catastrophic impact on the nation over the last decade and a half. Simultaneously, a wave of crystal-meth abuse had begun to sweep through urban gay enclaves — mostly unchecked at the time.

As a lucky survivor of the plague years of the AIDS epidemic in the s, who watched the majority of my gay male friends fall to the disease, I grew very alarmed when I learned that studies were showing higher rates of HIV transmission among those using crystal meth. To unquestioningly accept the popular myth about how and why he was killed means that we also avoid, at our own peril, questioning the other critical issues involved in his tragedy — and hence our society at large. Paperback 2 —. Add to Cart Add to Cart.

About Stephen Jimenez Stephen Jimenez is an award-winning journalist, writer and producer.

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