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The Meaning of Matthew

My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed

Judy Shepard


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (8/19/2009)
Paperback (5/25/2010)

September 2009 Indie Next List

“More than 10 years after her son's murder in Wyoming, Judy Shepard tells Matthew's story with eloquence. Her memoir is both a moving portrayal of a strong family dealing with the grief of their loss and a powerful testimony for human rights and the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in society.”
— Blake Hardy, Outwrite Bookstore & Coffehouse, Atlanta, GA
View the List


The mother of Matthew Shepard shares her story about her son's death and the choice she made to become an international gay rights activist

Today, the name Matthew Shepard is synonymous with gay rights, but before his grisly murder in 1998, Matthew was simply Judy Shepard's son. For the first time in book form, Judy Shepard speaks about her loss, sharing memories of Matthew, their life as a typical American family, and the pivotal event in the small college town that changed everything.

The Meaning of Matthew follows the Shepard family in the days immediately after the crime, when Judy and her husband traveled to see their incapacitated son, kept alive by life support machines; how the Shepards learned of the incredible response from strangers all across America who held candlelit vigils and memorial services for their child; and finally, how they struggled to navigate the legal system as Matthew's murderers were on trial. Heart-wrenchingly honest, Judy Shepard confides with readers about how she handled the crippling loss of her child, why she became a gay rights activist, and the challenges and rewards of raising a gay child in America today.

The Meaning of Matthew not only captures the historical significance and complicated civil rights issues surrounding one young man's life and death, but it also chronicles one ordinary woman's struggle to cope with the unthinkable.

Hudson Street Press, 9781594630576, 288pp.

Publication Date: September 3, 2009

Coverage from NPR