Blackwell Library

New Student Reader


The book for 2013-2014 is

The Meaning of Matthew:
My Son's Murder in Laramie,
and a World Transformed

by Judy Shephard

About This Book

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.

About the Author

In 1998, Judy Shepard lost her son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Turning tragedy into a crusade for justice, and determined to prevent Matthew's fate from befalling others, she established The Matthew Shepard Foundation to help carry on his legacy.

Activist speaker Judy Shepard has appeared in two Human Rights Campaign advertisements urging an end to anti-gay violence and promoting a greater understanding of gay issues. She is also actively involved with Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). In this capacity, she has written an open letter to schools across the country urging officials to make schools safer for gay students by promoting tolerance and diversity.

Most recently, Judy Shepard authored the New York Times best-selling book, The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed, a moving, intimate look at how her life, and the entire fight for equal rights, changed when her son was killed.