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Interview MWS

I Meet Matt -- Beginning (May 2001) @Alopex 2001, 2009
Now that I've ready Judy Shepard's book, I'll have to alter a few items on this page.  Oh, well, historians must change their perceptions all the time!


I stared at the comp in disbelief. Is that how it happened? I could feel the anger inside. How could anyone do that to a human being?

I was tired, so tired. It was almost midnight on a Friday night. How I wished I'd been there to interfere with their plans! How I wished I could have protected the victim!

Soon I was asleep, drifting aimlessly among the clouds and the wind. Then I felt myself sink onto a plain. The wind continued to blow, and I braced myself against it. It was dark, and I could see snowy mountains in the distance. the climate seemed harsh, and the wind felt cold.

Turning around in the field, I saw a property marker, a deerfence, about two hundred meters away. Bracing myself against the wind, I slowly fought my way towards the highway.

When I came to the fence, I tried to walk around it. As I inched around it, I saw a massive shadow under the moonlight. It was just past a full moon and very clear. The wind had drowned out the labored breathing as I neared the scene.

I recoiled in horror! What looked like a reclining scarecrow was human. I could see strands of blond hair blowing above a bloody head. An object near my foot attracted my attention. I picked up a watch with the time at twenty to two. I dropped the watch with one thought -- I was too late!

The bar scene from "Anatomy" (C) MTV, 2001
I still like the lightened hairdo (with earrings)!

The kekau threw me out of the scene. I awoke on my couch, unsure of reality. I heard a knock on my front door. As I arose, I shook off the lethargy. It seemed to be a sunny afternoon.

I opened the door, and there stood the same small, blond man. He smiled at me with dancing azure eyes.

"I'm Matt. I'm gay. I've come for an interview," he joked.

I was pleasantly surprised. I hugged Matt, even though his freckled face was buried in my chest. I could feel his warmth. He felt like an old friend.

He entered the livingroom, and sat on my couch.

"Is there anything I can get for you, Matt?"

He looked at me mischieviously. "An ashtray."

This is so unreal, I thought. Here is a man I've been wanting to talk over eternity for the past several months, and now I don't know what to say. As I watched him sit on my couch, I noticed that he looked only slightly different than his pictures. He was still the same man of 1.58 meters and 48 kilograms, but he wore an earring in his left lobe to complement his sideburns, and his hair was cut in a mushroom so it hung out of his eyes. (The explanation of the symbols is at the bottom.) I was momentarily stunned to ask about the difference. Besides, I had no idea how long we could talk.

"An ashtray?" I repeated.

Matt gave me a full-bodied smile. "You don't think it'll stunt my growth?"

He lit a cigarette, inhaled, and spewed it upward, just as if he were alive.

Matt offered me a cigarette as I put the ashtray down. He lit it, and he watched me drag it.
"So, Matt, why the earring?"
Matt's azure eyes danced again.  "If I wore a stud in my left lobe, you'd have a pun."
"A stud for a (gay) stud?"
 "That the one!"

"Shall we begin?"

Matt Shepard in my fantastic interview

Matt from "My Fantastic Interview" @Alopex 2001

The Horrible Night

I blew the smoke upward, then leaned over to tap the ashes in the same tray. "What happened that night?"

Matt closed his eyes. His freckles stood out as his face paled. He exhaled the smoke and began the story.

"I had been ill that day. I had a panic attack because midterms were coming soon. I had to get out of the apartment. MTV fabricated my reason for leaving. I was looking for companionship, just someone to talk to. The Fireside Bar was virtually deserted, because few students would be there during midterms. I was sitting there about an hour when two guys approached me."

Matt frowned, pushed his blond hair off his forehead, thought a moment, then took a long drag. He resumed the narration as he blew the smoke upwards.

"We began talking about gay issues. They had just come into the bar, so I assumed they were a couple. I was too drunk and subdued to suspect they were lying. Any suspicion I had, I shook off as paranoia. They let me do most of the talking. When they offered me a ride home, I thought I'd found two new friends. I accepted the ride because it was midnight. I suppose it was the worst decision of my life."

"No, buddy," I interjected. "Their decision to rob you, then kill you, was even worse. McKinney and Henderson threw the rest of their lives away. When did they reveal they were robbing you?"

"About the time we were almost out of town. McKinney said they were jacking me. I was too stunned to respond. After McKinney struck me in the head, I handed over my wallet. McKinney kept hitting me in the head with the gun because I had only twenty dollars. Then I realized that McKinney was high on something, and they were looking for drug money. I offered them 150 bucks in my apartment, so they'd take me home. McKinney just kept hitting me in the head with the butt of the gun until we stopped. Then they dragged me out of the truck. I broke away and tried to run, but I was too drunk and disoriented to get far.

"McKinney laughed as I begged him to leave me there. I prayed they'd leave me there in the field while they burglarized my apartment. McKinney kept hitting me, and Henderson dragged me to the fence. Then Henderson tied me to the fence. I couldn't even feel my hands anymore. They took turns hitting me.

"The worst part was the terror I felt tied to the fence. When they took my shoes, I had another panic attack, and I was living the rape in Morocco again. Once they tied me to the fence, the terror became overwheming, especially when they kicked me in the groin.

I winced as Matt related it. "Why did you read back the license plate of the truck?"

"McKinney asked me if I could read the license plate. By that time, I had lost control of the left side of my body and my left eye was frozen open. I had tried to stop the onslaught and failed. I was rather disoriented with pain, so I muttered, "Yes" to scare them. I figured I could frighten them to stop hitting me. Then McKinney smashed my skull into unconsciousness.

"I really think they wanted me to suffer for as long as possible, then die sometime during the night. It almost happened. They'd be long gone, leaving my body to be found as a trophy."

"Were you ever aware of anything again?"

"Actually several times during the eighteen hours I became aware of my situation. I was surprised to be alive, for I'd heard the fatal blow right before I became unconscious. I was in a coma, but I could tell where I was, and I could feel excruciating pain if I moved."

"Pain in your head?"

Yes, I felt the fractures in my head only if I didn't move, but then I felt all the other pain. I was in a coma. but I was also in agony. I also lost control of, er, voluntary bodily functions."

(Note: one such lost function has the medical term, encopresis. It is also common to victims of hangings and electrocution. The brain loses its control because the signals are not getting through to the target.)


Matt's Profound Thought and the Aftermath

Matt looked somewhat embarassed, so I shifted the subject back. "How did you endure such pain, even comatose?"

Matt smiled impishly again. "Do you remember what Tony Robbins said about focus?"

"Yes, I do. He said that we control our focus, and we choose what we give our attention."

"My focus was not on the pain," Matt explained. " My focus became to stay alive as long as possible, until someone found me. Therefore, I focused on breathing, and it kept me from dwelling on the pain. When I realized I had to think to breathe, I knew I was severely brain damaged."

"I am aware of brainstem trauma," I empathized. "My brother had an accident in 1986. To this day, he cannot walk or speak properly."

"I was worse because the repeated blows had knocked my brainstem against my skull. As I sat there, a profound thought seized me. FOR THREE YEARS SINCE I WAS GANG RAPED IN MOROCCO, I HAD BEEN DEPRESSED AND CONTEMPLATED SUICIDE. HERE I WAS AT THE END OF MY LIFE, AND I COULDN'T LET GO. All I had to do was hold my breathe and pass out. I'd move and stop breathing. I would feel a last surge of pain and then die, but I couldn't do it. Even with mortal injuries, I had to breathe. I had to survive until someone found me. I had to say goodbye to everyone. I finally knew what was important to me in this life."

"Were you in severe pain until you died?"

"It was a paralyzing pain in my head, and the torture of the other pain was maddening. I kept breathing, but I could not move. I was so afraid of going to hell, I repented of any sins I had not confessed. Of course, I did not ask for forgiveness for being gay , a burden -- not a sin -- that I would not wish on anyone. I forgave Henderson and McKinney. I felt a peace engulf me, knowing that I was all right, and somehow I was."

"You FORGAVE McKinney and Henderson for killing you?" I gasped. "I don't think I could have done that!"

Matt looked at me straight in the eye. "I knew I was going to die. What good would it have done me had I continued to hate my murderers? I forgave the six who had raped me in Morocco. I sought the same kind of relief. I was in enough pain while I sat there in a coma. I actually felt better when I forgave them."

I shook my head. I was enchanted with Matt's capacity to forgive. I was also embarassed at my own statement. I couldn't win, so I changed the subject. "What was the worst: the cold, the numbness, the thirst, the pain...?"

"I was very thristy, especially during the day. I drifted in and out of awareness, but I never left the coma. Therefore, I was very frustrated that I couldn't respond to Aaron Kreifels when he found me."

"My brother was in a coma for several days after the accident. he couldn't respond to anything, and he is still frustrated at times when we can't understand him," I added.

"I did hear the deputy say, 'Baby boy, I'm so sorry this happened to you.'. That caress felt so good. I was so relieved someone was caring for me that I endured the pain when they moved me.

"Once I was in the hospital, I slept almost a day. The second night I left my body to comfort Aaron Kreifels for finding me. Then my parent and brother arrive the third night. How I wished I could have told them I loved them one more time! By then, I was becoming aware of the love of the well-wishers. For once, I felt worthy of being alive, that my life had purpose."

"Everyone's life has purpose, little, blond buddy. The task is finding it and executing it," I noted.

Matt smiled. "I don't mind being small anymore. I've accepted myself."

"Any friend will accept you as you are," I reminded him.

"I still hated leaving my family. I felt so guilty when I died. I couldn't let them decide whether to keep me on life support. Still, I left them behind, and they were all crying. I saw the autopsy surgeon cringe when she cut my corpse open. I wish they'd used some of my organs before they cremated my body."

(Note: it is common practice to refuse organs of gay donors. I suppose they'd rather recipients die than take a chance on contracting AIDS.)

Romaine Patterson, who knew Matt well,
at the site. Romaine has a talkshow on Sirius radio.

I Meet Matt -- Conclusion

"Did you visit anyone since your death?" I asked.

Matt smirked. "I visit anyone I want to."

"Did you ever visit Aaron Kreifels again?"

Matt shook his head. "He's still shocked from the incident. When he found me, I must have been barely recognizable as a man. In fact, Melissa Etheridge wrote a song about me called 'Scarecrow' because Aaron had thought I was a scarecrow.

"Nonetheless, thanks to him, the eighteen hours of purgatory was over, and someone was taking care of me. I suppose I'll have to wait until he dies before I can hug him and thank him."

"Do you think McKinney deserved the death penalty?"

Matt raised his eyebrows in thought, then he answered. "I defer to my family. I'm no longer in pain, but they are." A tear fell out of his left eye. "I miss them terribly, but one day we'll be united just as I am now with my (paternal) grandfather."

"Why didn't you visit your family during the trial?"

"We are not allowed to interfere with the living. I was in the courtroom as an observer, as MTV showed in 'Anatomy'. Although it's bliss, being dead does have its obligations."

"Do you ever regret your posthumus fame?"

"I find it embarassing when someone thinks I died for gay rights. I'd rather have advanced gay rights during my lifetime. I accept what God wanted, but it's hard. On the other hand, if my death helped others, I am happy.

"It's hard because so many people still advance the sterotype that I was promiscuous. They just don't get it. My sexual orientation was a part of me. It was my depression and anxiety that dominated my thoughts. When I talked to Tina (LaBrie) about suicide that Saturday morning, I felt so sick of living. I had tried so hard to overcome my problems, and again I fell down. When I listened to her heartbeat, I felt the hope that I could do something with my life if I had the help. I just couldn't cope alone.

"Then I lost my temper with my Mom later that day because I'd overdrawn my bank account again. There I was, cursing the woman who had given me life. It was as if it were her fault I was alive! I apologized to her the next day, the last time I talked to her. I was ready to do something, anything, to change my situation."

"Do you think more therapy would have worked?"

"I was willing to do therapy again. I just don't know whether I could have squeaked by another blow, such as flunking out of my Dad's alma mater. I still feel the anxiety coming on with that thought!"

The Laramie Project
(c) Home Box, 2002

"What did you think of 'The Laramie Project'?"
"I really cannot criticize it.  I was not there.  It was not about me.  It was about the reaction to my death.  I think it was helpful only because it shows that Laramie was too much like any other town.  For example, haven't you cited that my beating could have happened in your hometown of Wilkes-Barre?"
"Yes, Matt.  I did.  In my hometown, like Ryan White's Kokomo, the three main targets are Jews, Negroes and gays.  I remember back in 1994, I joined the German-Austrian Friendship Club so I could practice my German, and I was appalled.  Many of the members were German citizens at the end of World War II, and they denied the holocaust.  Then they tended to denounce Jews as thieves and cheats, Negroes as 'jungle bunnies' and gays as choosing their orientation."
"So, you think that 'The Laramie Project' achieved its purpose?"
"Well, I think its purpose was to gather the reaction of the community.  I agree that it succeeded, despite the flaws in its presentation.  Otherwise, I found it irrelevant to your life."
Matt smiled as he lit up another cigarette.  "People have selective memories, don't they?  It showed when they presented 'Anatomy of a hate Crime' and 'The Matthew Shepard Story'.  They were supposed to be about my life and death, yet they provided two different views of me."
"No to mention the contradictions between 'Anatomy' and 'Story', and their contraction with 'Project'."
Matt smiled as he exhaled a smoke.  "I wasn't sure which one showed the real me."

"What did you think of 'Anatomy of a Hate Crime'?"

"It served its purpose. I liked Cy Carter's portrayal. Of course, it'd been better if I'd played myself! In fact, it'd be even better if I were still alive to play myself."

(Note: I explore it in "HIV Negative".)

"Ah, but then you'd have to be dead to play a spirit!"

"Okay, you got me there.  My major crticism is how much they downplayed my beating.  Surely I realize that they had to run on a tight budget, but they portrayed it as if I were knocked out and unable to feel those blows.  Believe me, getting beaten to death is no picnic.  Of course, I do not blame the actors for the flaws of the presentation.  Romaine (Patterson) did try to skirt around the issue when they interviewed her after its debut.  Cy Carter caught some sides of me, so I really can't complain

"What about his haircut?"

"I wish I looked that good in life."

"I liked it so much that I sport that haircut!"

"So, I see. Still in the midlife crisis!"

"Yes, and so are the earrings, but what didn't you like about 'Anatomy'?"

"What really bothered me in both movies was how sanitized they made my life.  It hides an esential part of me.  I smoked, I drank, and sometimes I cursed.  Although the actors did catch parts of me, I was much more complex than they could portray."

"In reality, you had academic trouble, which MTV changed. I do not understand why you had so much trouble as a student in college."

Matt stared at the ceiling. Then a smile crept around his eyes and mouth. "Do you remember organic chemistry?"

"Yes, I do. I had trouble with memorizing all the material. I envied those who could ace the courses. I even tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. It was a bad turning point of my life, around the time you were born. Later I learned to memorize the concepts, instead of drowning in the details."

"Exactly," Matt answered. "I, too, had little trouble in high school, but my own inadequate habits, along with my depression, destroyed any chance I had for succes in the university."

"You mentioned that you might have flunked out of your Dad's alma mater. Would you have tried again after intensive therapy?"

"I cannot answer that question, for I did not have the chance. However, Romaine did encourage me to use my intellect many times. I'm sure she'd have continued to push me toward that degree, once I had overcome the obstacles.

"I can be stubborn. I can be that 'pompous, little dick'. In that respect, I can use arrogance to motive myself to press onto other goals. My Dad was right. I had overcome obstacles before, I could do it again."

Side notes: With a little lightening of the hair, along with the proper makeup, Shane could look more like Matt. Of course, freckles and braces would help, but it's not likely that NBC will go that far!

Shane Meier as Matt Shepard

Well, the hair color is right. Too bad Shane didn't grow back the sideburns!
As expected Shane has no braces and only a few freckles. That haircut is very accurate for the time Matt met his death, for many of the other pictures we've seen were earlier in the year. It looks as if Matt had given up the "hair in the face" look of Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic". The pictures of the autopsy showed that Matt had his hair cut a week or so before the beating. By the way, Shane had auditioned for the role in "Anatomy of a Hate Crime", and he came in second to Cy Carter. Shane is about six months younger than Matt would be today, although I cannot find Shane's birthday anywhere. It's around 11 June (1977), which an article alluded, but did not state.

Shane Meier with Judy Shepard. Matthew was
the same height as his mother (1.58m).

Shane Meier as Matthew Shepard in Story
Shane isn't quite that small, then who is?

Shane Meier lost weight to play Matthew Shepard; he couldn't shrink from 1.65 to 1.58 m.  After shooting the film, he actually experienced discrimination.  A group of rowdies thought he was gay and verbally assulted him.  Ironically, it only proves that society has a long way to go, and Matt still lives in our daily attitudes.
There are a few heterosexual fansites for Shane.  He still has the cuteness from playing Will Munney Jr in "Unforgiven", although his freckles have faded, and his hair has darkened.

Poster for
Stockard Channing & Sam Waterston (c) NBC, 2002

"What did you think of 'The Matthew Shepard Story'?"
Matt took a long pause and puff.  "Well, first of all, it is a series of flashbacks, so anyone knows that much of the story is going to be missing."
I smiled at the elusive answer.  "I looked it over several times.  The obvious mistakes are the statement that your hometown is Laramie, you met those guys in the men's room, and how the rape happened.  What I found amusing is that 'painting scene' between Shane Meier and 'Pablo'."
"I was a prankster occasionally, so I thought the scene was okay."
"Ah, but did you notice the errors in the editing?"
"Come on, I was there most of the time they shot it.  How did you pick up errors?"
"Well, Shane had a streak of paint under his left ear at the beginning of the scene, and it was not there with the extra paint at the end of the scene, so I slowed the tape down.  Then I noticed that 'Pablo' has paint on the right side of his face and on his lips for a second or so, which disappears at the end of the scuffle."
"Actually, the actors really enjoyed shooting that scene -- so did I.  I thought it showed my fun side, although the scene was fictional.  I knew I was gay before I went to TASIS, unless they meant that I had my first lover at TASIS."
"There was another obvious error.  In that scene where you and your Dad were hunting , it shows your shooting at quail left-handed.  I stopped the tape for a closer look.  They actually put the scene horizontally reversed.  Shane's hair is parted the wrong way, and the background was also flipped. "
Matt smiled.  "I really liked that scene.  My Dad and I enjoyed all that Wyoming offers.  It is the reason I love that state.  That scene summarized my reason to stay in Wyoming.  However, I didn't like the background during the trial.  Even in Laramie, it's much colder in November than they showed, let alone Casper!"
"On a more serious note, what did you think when they shot the beating scene?"
"Well, first I found it quite touching that Shane Meier, all made up for the scene, chose to meditate before shooting it.  However, the beating was far more severe than they showed it.  I suppose it'd have made it TV-MA, for mature (the program was TV-14 for the violence).  They also showed 'McKinney' as hitting my head on the left side, which he rarely did.  He caved in my skull on the right side, which is why I could not close my left eye.  The scene of the rescue was also modified, for the policewoman (Reggie Fluty) did not release me that way.  First, I was sitting down, facing forward, not on my right side.  When she tilted me to the left, I stopped breathing, so she had to position me differently.  My left eye was open, not fluttering.  Still, it was painful for me to watch them shoot that scene in one night."
"And the scene of the rape?"
"In that case, it didn't happen that way, so I had an easier time coping with it.  Still, it evoked the horror I felt.  I especially like the scene when my Mom comes to my dorm.  However, I don't recall telling her I was gay at the time, although I suspect she knew."


"Did anything they missed bother you?"
"There were two things.  They completely skipped over my nearly two years in North Carolina and my longterm relationship with Lewis Macenzie Krider.  They also confused Casper College with UW, which I'd expect given they obscured my hometown.  Of course, parents would like to avoid thinking about their child's having sex, but it also cleaned up my image too much!  I did not become celibate after the rape in Morocco, which the movie implied in the scene of my TASIS graduation.  I had all kinds of relationships.  I needed all kinds of relationships.  I had close relationships with Gina Van Hoof and Tina and Phil Labrie.  I dated guys, I had to get out of the house occasionally, especially in Denver.
"They limited my time in Denver to Romaine.  Well, I did spend several months there, and it wasn't all that lonely.  It is ingenious that they chose only Romaine's story, which allowed them to skip the unpleasant details."
"Why were you unhappy in Denver?  It is a theme that 'Anatomy' and 'Story' agree upon."
"I decided to get away from college and to strike out on my own.  After seveal months, I had enough.  I was bored out of my mind with brainless jobs and being treated like a moron."
"Matt, I can certainly relate to that!"
"I was not accepted in the Episcopalian church.  The gay community was not what I wanted.  In fact, I felt confined to that community.  I am too cosmopolitan to confine myself to one community.  I like meeting all kinds of people.  I like appreciating differences.  Finally, I did not like struggling for a living.  Therefore, I tried and succeeded in getting into UW."
"Have you met anyone who didn't like his biography on television?"
"Karen Carpenter criticized hers.  She said it was just too bizarre, even though Richard had closely supervised the movie."
"What is she doing now?"
"Occasionally she puts on a concert.  She also talks with me about anorexia.  She figures I know something about it from the male point of view!"
"In her next concert, would you request, 'Rainy Days and Mondays' for me?"
"Don't worry: I will.  You'll hear it when she sings it." 

This model had ears shaped like Matt's, although
he doesn't have the pinch in his eyebrows!

"Seriously, Matt, what other aspects of 'Story' did you find implausible?"
"The ending when McKinney supposedly wept as my Dad read his statement.  It assumes that McKinney did not know about the plea bargain.  Well, of course he knew, and he bragged about the murder in prison.  He took the name 'killer".  He called me a 'faggot' nearly every day.  In fact, he loves his notoriety.  I found it a disservice for the public to think McKinney ever regretted killing me.  He has no remorse.  He made an insincere statement because his lawyer pushed him to do it."
"Perhaps one day he will be begging at your feet to let him into the Pearly Gates."
"I doubt if God would ever let me do that, but maybe McKinney would think so." 
"Was the real scene in the Fireside bar remotely similar to what 'Anatomy' or 'Story' showed?"
Matt paused, then exhaled.  "The bar was quite deserted around midnight, so 'Story' was correct there.  Henderson and McKinney came up to the bar, sat next to me, and I bought them a round of drinks, so 'Anatomy' was correct, along with "American Justice".  Actually, Henderson approached me.  We talked awhile before I agreed to accept the ride home.  The only thing I wish I could do is tell my side of the story, which none of the programs did.
Matt sighed.  "I guess I'll never get that chance."

In this scene of Matt's graduation from TASIS, the background is changed.  Everyone else, including the actor who plays Logan, is absent.  Despite all the flaws, "The Matthew Shepard Story" does deliver a powerful and meaningful message about Matt.  Shane Meier, like Cy Carter in "Anatomy of a Hate Crime", does capture some of Matt's personality.

Matt with a cute smile in nice clothes

This is a nice picture of the cute, little blond guy. He is smiling, and his hair is pushed back out of his face.

"What would you say to those who want to take your place at the fence?"

Matt closed his eyes tightly, showing wrinkled eyelids and freckled orbital rims. He seemed to be reliving the beating on the fence. Then he slowly opened his eyes and spoke. "I wouldn't let them!" he averred.

"Why wouldn't you allow someone to die in your place?"

"People don't understand the overall scheme of the world. If I had that option, then I would not have gone to the Fireside that night. Do you realize how painful I would live the rest of my life by knowing that someone had died in my place? I cannot let anyone play Jesus Christ."

"It sounds like the role of Private James Francis Ryan."

Matt looked at me with pain. "How I hated the gore in that movie. 'Saving Private Ryan' really upset me."

"Yes, but in the end, he never knew whether he'd lived up to the reason others had died for him, that he'd earned the ticket home."

"How'd you interpret the movie?"

"Actually, Matt, I found the character of Timothy E. Upham much like you. He was small, freckled and innocent. He spoke three languages. He learned the dirty side of war. (Note: Jeremy Davies also played a student of theater in the official "Laramie Project".)  However the ultimate thrust of that movie is the purpose of why we are here on this earth for such a short time. The movie is much like your life, little buddy. I was forced to look at my own life and ask, 'Am I living my purpose?' 'Am I living my life as God wants?'

"Each of us has some mission on this earth. It might be simply to die for others to live. However, we must make the best of what we can do, to cultivate our gardens, as Voltaire said in 'Candide'.

"I recall 'Tuesdays with Morrie', and I found Mitch Albom's story very inspiring. I suspect you've been discussing life with Morris Schwartz, but nonetheless, a little bit of wisdom does clear the way. We see the overall scheme of life, instead of hiding in the details."

Here's a closeup of Matt's freckles and cleft
from the right side.

A model who looks like Matt in this pose

"Have you heard Elton John's song about you, "American Triangle"? It's the fourth song on his album, "Songs from the West Coast".

"First, Sir Elton honored me with that song. Sometimes I feel as if all this fuss about me is too much, but then I look to the concept and my ideals, and I agree. If it opens dialogue, like my mother's website, then it's worth it.
"Second, I've read all those poems about me, and some are more abstract than Bernie Taupin's lyrics. I remain honored that all those artists think of me.
"Is there anything else on that album you like?"
"Yeah, Matt.  The first five songs all remind me of something.  "The Emperor's New Clothes" brings Ronald Reagan and his godlike status, "Dark Diamonds" reminds me of ME!, "Look, Ma, No Hands" conjures Shrub in the White House, and I like "Original Sin" the most."
Matt feigned horror.  "You don't like MY song the most?"
"Matt, I don't think ANY song could summarize your life.  It certainly doesn't justify my encounters with you, especially this one."
To change the subject, I added, "You must be happy that the Supreme Court overruled Bowers vs Hardwick."
Matt stared at the ground, took a drag, then said, "Finally the country is moving in the direction of tolerance.  It doesn't effect me, because I spent most of my time in Wyoming and Colorado, where it was legal.
"When I lived in North Carolina with Lewis Macenzie, neither of us cared that what we did was illegal.  I see that Fred Phelps is most unpleased, calling for the death penalty for sodomy.  Still, it's a step, and I can enjoy it even if I am dead!" 

Matt crushed out his cigarette and rose. "On that positive note, I must leave now."

I put out my cigarette and rose. Wordlessly we hugged once more. As I patted his back, I asked, "Will I see you again before I die?"

Matt smiled broadly, showing braced teeth. "Yes, but I cannot come whenever you want. However, you can see me anytime in your dreams."

"In my --" I began.

I sat up in bed in the dark! I could still feel Matt's warmth.

Wow! I thought. That was some dream! Or was it?

@Alopex, 2001
My thanks to John Patrick Day and Matthew J Wilson, fellow friends of Matthew Shepard, whose input helped me tremendously.



Small, Blond, Engineering Student at Penn State @Alopex 2001

This unsuspecting blond fellow is one of my live drawings from March 1980. Matt Shepard was only three at the time, but I think the subject looks the closest of all my live drawings like my little, blond buddy. If only I could have drawn Matt from life! (This fantasy continues with "HIV Negative")

I am still researching this subject. Eric Williams is compiling historical archives of the little, blond guy. Click here.

symbol of Mars, male

symbol of Mars, male

There was a discussion on Matthew's Place about Matt's position on biased crime laws. My intent on this interview was to have Matt explain his view of his beating and death. I also shared my reaction of Matt's beating and death in light of my own experiences. Therefore, I do NOT intend to bring up the subject of biased-crime laws. I slipped that subject into "HIV Negative".


Post Script to "Dear Jesse"
Tim Kirkman has a video on Jesse Helm's campaign in 1996 for reelection.  The first day he was filming, Tuesday, 9 April, he went to a rally at Catawba College (near Charlotte), but he missed it.  He decided to interview people coming out of the rally.  One of his interviews, he decided not to use, but he kept the print.  It turned out that he had interviewed Matt and his boyfriend Lewis.  I have now seen and heard Matt alive on film.
Matt was wearing a brown jacket over a navy mock turtleneck shirt.  He looked around as Lewis was talking, similar to Cy Carter's portrayal in the gay bar on "Anatomy"  while he was sitting at a table.  Matt pushes his hair off his forehead at least once, and he chews his lips.  The lighting was harsh, so one could not see Matt's freckles or braces, but he does have some acne on his right cheek, similar to Shane Meier's freckles. 
Matt's voice sounds like one of a typical male in late adolescence (18-21).  He shows his smile enough to light up the scene.  He was obviously happy to discuss politics, giving Lewis plenty of time to speak.  It was a real treat for me to see this long after I wrote this interview, for it adds to my vision of what Matt would really do and say to me.    
Tim Kirkman then narrates what happened to Matt only 30 months later in Wyoming.  He ends the piece with "This is all the footage I have of Matthew.  It isn't fair.  It isn't enough." 

This picture is similar to Matt's appearance in
"Dear Jesse" Note his braces, hints of his freckles and cleft.

Someone asked for the text of the interview in Dear Jesse.  I will avoid some throwaway words.  The following is virtually complete -- I have pieced the dialog.
TK What about Helms?
LM What about Helms?
TK What do you think about him?
LM I'm a theater major here (at Catawba College), and because of his views on art and stuff.  Not just that, but he's obviously racist and homo(sexo)phobic, and stuff like that. I'm black and this is my boyfriend (hugs Matt).  So I don't fit in any of those categories.

TK  Do you think he represents most of what North Carolinians feel?
MWS  No, I think more on the conservative side of North Carolina.
LM  North Carolina in general.  I haven't lived here that long, but what I've seen and worked on here so far, it's been pretty much like that.
TK It's like what?
(LM to MWS) Think of our town.
MWS  Yeah.
LM  There are radical spots -- there's always some radical spots in places -- at least in general.  I haven't traveled much since I've moved here.  In general, at least here, it's pretty conservative.
MWS Conservative
LM  We had a KKK (Ku Klux Klan -- a radical right group who wear white hoods and burn crosses) march here at the beginning of this year.
MWS  In October, I think.  Something like that.
TK  Are you guys active in the local gay group?
LM  He is; I'm not.
MWS  It's not very active.  It's a really small group.
LM  Small.
MWS We're met with a lot of resistance.
LM  A lot of resistance.
MWS  I think it's because it's a conservative Christian school.
TK  It's a religous school.
LM & MWS  Religous affiliate.
MWS  With the UCC.
(The United Church of Christ is actually very gay friendly!  It is a combination of the Congregationalists -- Calvinists who refused to send representatives to a higher body like the Presbyterians -- Evangelical and Reformed Churches in 1957.)  

Tears for Matt at U Wyoming

Matt on a stamp, my design

Disclaimer: The format of this interview is similar to Steve Allen's "Meeting of the Minds". Therefore, the thrust of the interview is intellectual, subject to change in light of new evidence. Like "Anatomy of a Hate Crime", it tries to remain faithful to Matt if he could speak to us. My purpose is to understand what it meant to be Matt Shepard. Of course, the ultimate method is to ask him in the afterlife, but I can't wait!

Explanation of Matt's appearance: Those who knew Matt agree that he wanted to be just like everyone else, to fit in. Cy Carter's blond mushroom gave me the idea that Matt would fit in with such a haircut (and he sported one in an earlier picture). Let's face it, Leonardo DiCaprio didn't exactly look great with blond hair in his face on "Titanic"
Matt probably didn't have his ear pierced because he'd thought it made him look "faggy". The earring also symbolizes fitting in, a commonplace item for men in the baby bust (1965-76) and the boomlet generation (1977-). Matt, of course, was born right in between these arbitrary eras. As I noticed on that heartbreaking picture of Matt's battered face as he lay dying, Matt still had those sideburns (and he looked good with them), probably to make him look older and mature. My guess why he didn't grow facial hair is that such hair would stink from his smoking and possibly worsen his acne.