We asked people: “What effect did Matthew Shepard’s murder have on you since it happened 10 years ago?”
Matthew Shepard’s murder has served as a reminder for me that even good can come out of the most heinous acts. Dennis and Judy argued against the death penalty for their son’s murderers, and after his death established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to promote lgbt equality.
I was heartbroken; at the time I was living life as if America was a safe and accepting place. Ten years later I have learned that, in order for America to be that safe and accepting place, I have to live a genuine, visible life and take every opportunity to stand up in support of my community.
Matthew Shepherd’s heinous murder made real for me the ugly bigotry that had been hidden too long by giving it a face and a soul. Whenever I read of homophobic statements and actions, I now see Matthew’s face and it reminds me to stay in the fight for equality for all.
I remember where I was and what I was doing — morning rush hour traffic. It made me realize how vulnerable life can be, and that living in my little bubble in Salt Lake City couldn’t protect me. I am always paying attention to my surroundings and I take nothing for granted.
I realized that the time had come for me to pull my head out of my ass and begin to live my life as God intended; gay, courageous and out.
Matthew Shepard’s murder put a face to the issue of hate crimes in this country and who the victims of homophobia really are. His death was not only a wake up call to society at large, it was a resounding bell for the GLBT community to stand up for equal treatment and protection under the law. May His Memory Be Eternal (Greek Orthodox blessing).
Matthew Shepard died just a couple years before I came out at 17. He signifies to me both that it is important to stand up and be counted for who I am, but to always remember that it can be dangerous to do so.
I have become very sensitive of which strangers I am open with about my sexuality (at least when I am in a strange town). When I travel through small towns I imagine the frustration and fears that the local GLBTQ people may be going through and I hope that they find positive allies and friends who will help to protect them.
I wondered to myself “How in the world could anyone kill such a beautiful young man with so much potential and so much more life to be lived?” I remember attending the vigil at the Captiol that cold fall night when our community gathered together lighting candles in remembering Matthew’s life. That memory will live for me forever. Unfortunately, even with Matthew Shepard’s passing, many today are still violently beaten or killed today. When will it stop?