WTF? Judy Shepard’s Book "The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed" Deemed "Homophobic" By North Carolina’s Appalachian State University

North Carolina Appalachian State University has decided that they will not let students read Judy Shepard’s book The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed over the summer, because it is homophobic!

Kathy Staley, an archivist at App State’s Belk Library, wrote on her Facebook Monday that the committee had not chosen Shepard’s book, “The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed,” because some found it to contain “homophobic” passages. Staley wrote, “Did anyone find Judy Shepard’s ‘The Meaning of Matthew’ homophobic? I didn’t but ASU’s summer reading group nixed it because two readers found it homophobic.” At least one of those readers, whose identity hasn’t been divulged to qnotes, is a friend of Staley’s.

Dr. Emory Maiden, professor of English and director of the summer reading program, told qnotes via email that it would be a “huge oversimplification” to attribute the program’s book choices to any single issue. He said the book failed to meet the program’s several criteria.

He said the committee had a “long and…reasonable discussion” regarding the book but said “one of the dominant concerns [was] whether this writer — Matthew’s mother — was the best spokesperson to bring to campus on this issue — most people thought not — there were better voices to be heard.”

He wrote: “[C]ommittee members wondered aloud about how her book would work as a discussion of the oppression of and attacks on those who are perceived to be ‘Other’ — as a clear starting point for a discussion of different life styles and sexual identity, but would also be a gateway into the broader concerns for hate crimes and social justice. So, our discussion was not focused on a single issue, but several — and finally was about how the book might develop and engage a broad readership — and that is as it should be for consideration for a book the whole University community would read.”

Maiden also said he wasn’t aware that anyone in particular thought the book to be homophobic but that there were “concerns that a grief-stricken mother had gotten into print on a subject that she neither wholly understand nor have (sic) a broad experience with.”

“Concerns that a grief-stricken mother had gotten into print on a subject that she neither wholly understand nor have (sic) a broad experience with.” –  Her son was murdered and crucified on a fence because he was Gay and she doesn’t “wholly understand nor have a broad experience with” Are you fucking kidding me?

The book has uncomfortable moments but please tell me great minds at Appalachian State University how can what really happened be explained without pointing out the homophobic events that transpired. To say that a book written by Judy Sheppard is homophobic would be like saying accepting that the Diary of Anne Frank is anti-semetic.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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