Monday, October 12, 2009

Gone, but not forgotten

Today is the 11 year anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard. He was 21 years old, a beautiful young man, and he died because of the hatred of a few men his own age.

Matthew was born December 1, 1976 and died October 12, 1998. He was attacked after accepting a ride from two men on the evening of October 6. He was found tied to a fence post outside Laramie, Wyoming eighteen hours later after being pistol whipped and left for dead. Severe head injuries eventually cost Matthew his life.

I have watched the Laramie project, which is a good idea (I believe) for anyone who is just coming out. There is supposed to be a sort of Laramie redux, for the ten year anniversary, coming out soon. The gentleman who did the latest interviews spent a good deal of time with one of the men found guilty in Matthew's death. He admitted that he is the poster-child for hate crimes in the U.S. He also stated that he did not want to get out of prison, that there was no place for him in the world.

Ten years ago if you had asked me if the men who attacked Matthew should have died, I would have undoubtedly said yes. Today, after almost 5 years in the prison system, I don't know anymore. Part of me wants to spend year after year locked in a cell for 23 hours a day, simply because they took Matthew away from his parents and everyone who loved him. The other part of me doesn't believe that rehabilitation is possible for men like this.

It is not my intent today to be sad, or angry for Matthew or his family. Today it is my intent to lift up the life of this beautiful young man taken from us far too soon. Please let someone you know (gay or straight) that you love them no matter who they are. That they are important in someone's life, who knows you and I could make a difference today!!


  1. I have yet to see solid evidence that the prison system in any way rehabilitates. If you know of any, please forward.

    My gut instinct is to simply lock them up forever. Preferably in some sort of forced labor camp.

  2. Every time I think of this young man, I remember that him and I were born a month (and a few days) apart. I think of how I got to grow up and have a family and live this great life and he didn't. It always makes me sad and a little angry. And then I remember that the ride between anger and hate is a short one.

    Beautiful post. Thanks for reminding us of him.

  3. @Aunt Becky, thanks, stories like this just make me so sad.

    @The Mother-we have actually had about 15-20% recidivism reduction with the Missouri Reentry Process and certain programs we are using, however every day I see at least one knuckle head that I think no matter what I do, I could never fix what's wrong with him.

    @Faiqa-I have to remind myself about anger and hate every time I run into a situation like this. Most of us would have a reason to be angry and hate-filled for the rest of our lives.

  4. What a beautiful post. What a tragic loss. Thank you fo rkeeping his memory alive.

  5. @Becky-thanks, and thanks for visiting my site. I was so happy to see you had posted! :)