Watch CBS News

Matthew Shepard's Mother Tells All in Book

The story of Matthew Shepard is now synonymous with gay rights. But before his grisly murder in 1998, Matthew was simply Judy Shepard's son.

Now an international gay rights activist, Judy Shepard's new book, "The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed," is being published for the 10-year anniversary of his murder.

On "The Early Show" Tuesday, Judy warned that her new book is not an easy read.

The author said writing about her son, who was beaten and tied to a fence for being gay, brought back a lot of difficult memories.

"I thought a lot of those memories, I wouldn't have to go back to them," she said. "Digging it all up was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."

Judy said she wrote the book to get at the truth of Matthew's life.

Read an excerpt of "The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed"

"It's our family's truth," she said. "And I make it very clear that they're our memories that may be remembered differently by other people, but this is our Matt and I felt it was time to introduce the Matt known to his family and friends to the Matthew that everybody else thinks they know."

Rodriguez read a passage from the book:

"There was blood everywhere, in a pool under his head and all across his face. Matted in his hair and caked around his nostrils, except for the tracks on each of his cheeks that had been left by tears."

Rodriguez asked Judy how she has dealt with that pain over the years. Has anything brought her peace the last 10 years amid the loss of her son?

"It's just day-by-day still," Judy said. "It's a horrible pain. ... What's happened is you don't really move on. It's just different. You remember different things. And in beginning it was the horror and anguish of losing Matt and worrying about the pain that he was feeling at the time. Now we talk about Matt and the happy memories that we have of him. So that's the good transition."

She added, "I miss his hugs."

From Matthew's murder, however, Judy said a lot of unintended education has occurred in the press.

"People were made aware of what was going on in the gay community and it started a national dialogue," she said. "And then the production of "The Laramie Project" sort of kept that dialogue going and I think people are just more aware, there's a lot more information available now. The gay community was part of every public discussion where it used to be something you didn't talk about -- in the closet, if you will."

Since Matt died, Judy has lobbied for a hate-crime bill called The Matthew Shepard Act. She said she hopes the Obama administration and Congress will pass it into law.

"We know the president will sign it if the bill comes to his desk," she said. "It's attached to a Department of Defense bill, so that makes it trickier. Just keeping my fingers crossed."

Judy said she hopes her book and Matt's story will encourage parents to love their children no matter what.

She said, "(Children shouldn't) feel anything other than just love and encouragement from their parents."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.