On the night of October 6, 1998, in Laramie, Wyoming, Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998) was brutally killed solely because he was gay. It was a shocking murder that was nationally covered in the media, and it became a rallying cry for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed by President Barack Obama, expanding the federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
With a foreword by Jason Collins-the first openly gay, active player in the NBA-and written by Lesléa Newman-author of the Stonewall Honor-winning novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, and a friend of the Shepard family-Always Matt is an emotional yet ultimately hopeful look at the progress that’s been made, as well as the work that still continues, in advocating for the dignity and equality of all people. Without shying away from the pain and tragedy of his death, moving, lyrical prose and minimalist line drawings present a celebration of his incredible life. Twenty-five years after the formation of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which dedicates its mission to erasing hate, Matthew’s story still resonates for those who lived through it, and remains a vital piece of LGBTQ+ history for younger generations to learn.