On October 7, 1998, the tale of Aaron Kreifels riding his bike through a field in Wyoming is one most people in the LGBT community. He wasn’t expecting that day to be different from any other in Laramie, Wyoming however it is one that would change the course of the LGBT movement and hate crimes legislation across the United States slowly.
Aaron spotted what he though could have been a scarecrow next to a fence. Then he noticed the glossy reflection of blood. Matthew’s face was unrecognizable to Aaron at that moment but he had enface discovered 22 year-old Matthew Shepard, clinging to life.
Most of us now what happened for the next five days, Matthew held and his parents held his hand and prayed. Matthew slipped away quietly on October 12th, leaving in his wake a new movement for equality across the country. It also sparked a ton of than young adults and college students to come out to their friends and family.
The outcries for justice and for greater protections were immediate and resonating.
Since those events in 1998 Matthew’s mother Judy has created the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The story of the events of that October night are recreated in the play by Moises Kaufman The Laramie Project.
The attack and death of Matthew Shepard came at a time when I was only 9 years old, so I have no story of remembering what happened but I remember flashbacks of news coverage and the discussion by a few adults.
In the past couple months however, I have watched a ridiculous amount of hate crimes and two deaths of Matthew Carson and Islan Nettles in New York City this summer, and the hate crime that I was a victim of in 2012.
It saddens me that during the said but needed reminder of what happened to Matthew Shepard those 15 years ago is being used by another person author Stephen Jiminez has released a book denying the hate crime that took place here.
This book is not a personal account, Jiminez is doing his best to attack the memory of a boy who gave strength to tell the world that this is who we are and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Please sign this petition created by my friend Jamie McGonnigal.
Let Matthew Shepard memory of the story of him continue to move us toward better equality for the entire LGBT community.