Always Matt : A Tribute To Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman
View book: Always Matt : A Tribute To Matthew Shepard
A profound salute to the existence of Matthew Shepard and his impact on the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights is conveyed through this book. It pays tribute to the establishment of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which is devoted to eradicating hate.
On the evening of October 6, 1998, in Laramie, Wyoming, Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998) was tragically murdered solely because of his sexual orientation. This appalling crime received national media attention and became a rallying cry for the LGBTQ+ movement.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enhancing federal hate crime legislation to encompass offenses driven by the victim’s real or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Featuring an introduction by Jason Collins, the first openly gay active NBA player, and written by Lesléa Newman, the author of the Stonewall Honor-winning novel October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and a close pal of the Shepard family, Always Matt acknowledges the emotional journey while remaining hopeful about the progress made and the ongoing advocacy for the dignity and equality of all individuals.
Without evading the heart-wrenching tragedy of Matthew’s death, Newman’s compelling and musical writing, along with Brian Britigan’s minimalist color line drawings, presents a celebration of his remarkable life. Matthew’s story profoundly impacts those who experienced it and remains an indispensable part of LGBTQ+ history for future generations to comprehend.
Always Matt: A Heart-Wrenching Tribute to Matthew Shepard’s Legacy
Welcome to Graphic Policy Television (GPTV)! I’m Brett, and with me as always is Matt. Today, we want to talk about a powerful book called “It Is” by Leslia Newman, forward by Jason Collins, illustrated by Brian Britigan. When I first received this book, I mistakenly thought it was a graphic novel about Matthew Shepard and the tragedy he endured. However, “It Is” is actually more of a poetic tribute, featuring breathtaking artwork that serves as a reminder of Matthew Shepard’s profound impact.
For those who may not be familiar, it has been almost 25 years since Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered simply because he was gay. Shepard was lured by two individuals, beaten, and left for dead. His tragic story sent shockwaves across the nation and became a pivotal moment in the LGBTQ+ movement. As someone who remembers this time vividly, I still feel a deep sense of disgust towards what happened.
The book itself is a stunning portrayal of Matthew Shepard’s life and legacy. Newman’s writing is nothing short of fantastic, and Collins’ opening page provides a personal insight into his experiences and the impact Shepard had on him. But it is Newman’s poignant epilogue that truly stands out. Not only does she delve into Shepard’s life, but she also shares her own experiences and reflections afterward.
Before discussing the epilogue, I want to take a moment to appreciate the beautiful artwork. While reading this book, I found myself on the verge of tears multiple times. It reminded me of a dark period in our history and compelled me to question whether we have made progress or regressed. The art captures the emotions perfectly, and I wanted to share a few examples that spoke to me.
Now, let’s focus on Newman’s epilogue. Her words resonated deeply with me, and I even took the time to jot down some thoughts. This was important, not only to express my own feelings but also to stay focused. I welled up with tears as I read through her lessons, which emphasize the importance of remembering Matthew Shepard’s story. Newman believes that communities should be judged based on real individuals, not misconceptions perpetuated by myths. By keeping Matthew’s story alive, we can bring about change and counteract the forces of hate that seem to be gaining strength.
In reflecting upon this, I couldn’t help but think of Harvey Milk and how his life was cut short due to hate and extremism as well. It reminds me of one of Milk’s recorded statements, where he passionately expressed the need to stand up for equality and provide hope to young people in desperate situations. Milk’s words, even decades later, still resonate and make us question the world we live in.
“It Is” serves as a powerful reminder of the hate that exists in our society. It sheds light on the unjust loss of lives, like Matthew Shepard’s, and prompts us to consider how we can foster a more inclusive and welcoming world. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book, and encourage you to support your local shops by purchasing a copy. Keep reading, stay hopeful, and never give up the fight for a better tomorrow.