aired “The Matthew Shepard Story: Secrets of a Murder,” which Jimenez coproduced with Glenn Silber. But how did “gay hate crime” get attached to news of Matthew’s murder in the first place?These citizens naturally welcomed what this network news report said, because it meant the shame they had been living with for a decade was unwarranted. traces the origin of that misinterpretation to two independent and unrelated sources.(In one of several odd twists Jimenez reports, Aaron’s girlfriend’s mother was in a lesbian relationship at the time, as was Russell’s girlfriend’s mother.) The “gay panic defense”—the story that Aaron went ballistic because that night in a bar Matthew came on to him and later grabbed his crotch—was a complete fabrication, fed by Aaron’s and his girlfriend’s shared interest in portraying him as heterosexual, and by Aaron’s hope it would mitigate his sentence.
aired “The Matthew Shepard Story: Secrets of a Murder,” which Jimenez coproduced with Glenn Silber. But how did “gay hate crime” get attached to news of Matthew’s murder in the first place?These citizens naturally welcomed what this network news report said, because it meant the shame they had been living with for a decade was unwarranted. traces the origin of that misinterpretation to two independent and unrelated sources.
They were tired of their community and their lives being the nightly news. (One exception is the character of Doc the limo driver, who appears to have taken many people for a ride, including Tectonic company members, and I will say more about his special case in a moment.) What impressed me most upon rereading was that the story it tells has power and cultural relevance irrespective of its factual accuracy, in exactly the way great theater has always offered audiences myths they need and want to live by.
They were tired of feeling the stigma of having such a heinous crime occur in our community. And Matthew didn’t have what they thought and it just escalated to an anger that was totally out of control. That’s one way we know who we are as humans, and a big reason our species makes art.
Imagine for a moment Elizabethan England, during the years Shakespeare’s chronicle plays were staged at the Globe.
Suppose that, for any one of those scripts, there had been an investigative reporter who could travel back in time, get access to a plentitude of primary sources and interview subjects, and return with a comprehensively researched manuscript that refuted what Shakespeare wrote.
gets the facts about Matthew’s murder right and the play got them wrong? Countless audience members (like me) have been, and will continue to be, deeply moved by is to be believed (and I do, as I will explain), Matthew’s tragedy began long before the night he was killed. He was slight of stature and his puberty was not forthcoming, so his parents put him on hormone shots—the beginning of what became a life-long drug dependency.
Were Ford’s Theatre and I unwittingly complicit in delivering disinformation? He was sexually molested as a child by a male relative, and he was said to have been gang-raped as an adolescent—traumatic events with long-term psychic wounds that often go unhealed.
"In October 1998 Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming.
Five weeks later, Moisés Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie, and over the course of the next year, conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town.
And I would urge Tectonic Theater Project to join in this reframing by no longer claiming that and requesting an interview.
He has not responded.)In fairness, at the time members of Tectonic Theater Project initially visited Laramie, the media had already broadcast the “gay hate crime” narrative around the world.