A controversial new angle on the Matthew Shepard narrative has gained some predictable allies. American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios has embraced the new Shepard narrative, boasting that the young man’s murder as we know it is a “complete fraud.”
Rios, a conservative Christian radio host, cited author Stephen Jimenez’s controversial new book on Shepard, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard. It claims that Shepard was a drug pusher, that his killers may have been lovers of his, and that his sexual orientation was completely incidental to his murder.
Shepard has been widely regarded as the victim of a hate crime and an icon for bullied LGBTs since his murder 15 years ago.
Many have dismissed Jimenez’s work and question the validity of his sources. However, some in the gay community have struggled with the new narrative. Jimenez is himself a homosexual, so it’d be hard to argue that he has any sort of agenda against the gay community. Even The Advocate‘s Aaron Hicklin seemed disturbed by the possibility that these new revelations could be true.
People like Rios, meanwhile, aren’t having such a hard time accepting the new account. At the Values Voter Summit on Friday in Washington D.C., she said that “the story was that they murdered [Shepard] because he was gay and he became a martyr for the gay movement… except, wait a second, it wasn’t true.”
“We know now because a book that just came out last week written by a gay author Stephen Jimenez. And now we know the story was a complete fraud,” she said.
“Matthew Shepard was gay,” she continued. “Matthew Shepard was murdered by these two boys, but it was a drug deal gone bad.”
She also blasted the play “The Laramie Project,” which some schools put on to teach students about tolerance.
You can watch the video of Sandy Rios talking about the new Matthew Shepard narrative below, via RightWingWatch.