Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder

Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder

by Beth Loffreda
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Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder by Beth Loffreda

The infamous murder in October 1998 of a twenty-one-year-old gay University of Wyoming student ignited a media frenzy. The crime resonated deeply with America's bitter history of violence against minorities, and something about Matt Shepard himself struck a chord with people across the nation. Although the details of the tragedy are familiar to most people, the complex and ever-shifting context of the killing is not. Losing Matt Shepard explores why the murder still haunts us—and why it should.

Beth Loffreda is uniquely qualified to write this account. As a professor new to the state and a straight faculty advisor to the campus Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association, she is both an insider and outsider to the events. She draws upon her own penetrating observations as well as dozens of interviews with students, townspeople, police officers, journalists, state politicians, activists, and gay and lesbian residents to make visible the knot of forces tied together by the fate of this young man.

This book shows how the politics of sexuality—perhaps now the most divisive issue in America's culture wars—unfolds in a remote and sparsely populated area of the country. Loffreda brilliantly captures daily life since October 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming—a community in a rural, poor, conservative, and breathtakingly beautiful state without a single gay bar or bookstore. Rather than focus only on Matt Shepard, she presents a full range of characters, including a panoply of locals (both gay and straight), the national gay activists who quickly descended on Laramie, the indefatigable homicide investigators, the often unreflective journalists of the national media, and even a cameo appearance by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Loffreda courses through a wide ambit of events: from the attempts by students and townspeople to rise above the anti-gay theatrics of defrocked minister Fred Phelps to the spontaneous, grassroots support for Matt at the university's homecoming parade, from the emotionally charged town council discussions about bias crimes legislation to the tireless efforts of the investigators to trace that grim night's trail of evidence. Charting these and many other events, Losing Matt Shepard not only recounts the typical responses to Matt's death but also the surprising stories of those whose lives were transformed but ignored in the media frenzy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231118590
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/19/2001
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.01(w) x 8.97(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Beth Loffreda is assistant professor of English and adjunct professor of women's studies at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

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Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book at the local book store hoping that it would give me some insight into what happened that day. I was right. Although presented in a dry fashion, this book was very interesting. It describes, in great detail, the events and politics surrounding the investigation and trials that proceeded the murder. I learned fascinating details that were never covered in the press, at least not where I live (I won't spoil the surprise by telling what those were). Loffreda also takes interviews many citizens of Laramie during the trial (what they were feeling, how this story affected the community and how it affected gay life) Although much of the book is 'boring' (for lack of a better word), I found that I learned quite a LOT about the murder and the aftermath. I recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so dissapointed by this book.It was so boring from begin to end.I think they just should have wrote a book about his life,not all this politics.Worst book ever.