-Martin Luter King, Jr.
"Lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998 On Tuesday evening, October 6, 1998, U. of Wyoming Student Matthew Shepard had left friends and decided to go to a local campus bar where he was a regular. There he ran into two men who told Matthew they were gay too. Matthew thought he had made two new friends – in a town where young gay people aren't easy to find – when he accepted their ride home. That night the bright, young, 21-year old college student's worst nightmare came true as he was repeatedly pistol-whipped, beaten, burned, and ultimately, his near lifeless body crucified to a wooden fence and left abandoned in an open field outside of town. Matthew would remain bleeding, beaten, while the freezing wind would batter his almost unrecognizable body for over 18 hours until he was found by a passerby. He arrived at the hospital in critical condition where he would die a few days later on October 12, 1998.
N E W S S T O R I E S / S T A T E M E N T S
Gay student critically hurt in attack (10/9/98)
MSNBC broke the news story of the beating.
Gay student brutalized in Wyoming (10/9/98)
More news... later that day.
Matthew Shepard medical update (10/10/98 9 pm)
The next day the hospital begins posting updates on Matthew's condition.
Statement by the President (10/10/98)
The White House speaks out against this attack and hate crimes.
Gay man clings to life after attack (10/11/98)
Matthew's conditions deterioriates.
Wyoming student who was savagely beaten dies( 10/12/98)
Matthew's suffering finally came to an end early Monday morning, October 12, 1998.
Celebrations for National Coming Out Day turn into memorials for a fallen friend.
ABC 20/20 Report
Details of exactly what happened the night Matthew was tortured.
It could have been any one of us. This isn't easy to read.
Laid to rest
Matthew's parents speak to people gathered in Casper, Wyoming, to honor their slain son.
A Chaplain's Reflection
A tribute to Matthew. Silence killed Matthew.
Statements by U of Wyoming President, City of Laramie, USC President on Matthew's death.
"to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting"
-e e cummings
Read at Matthew Shepard Vigil
October 14, 1998, in Washington, DC
"Matt's smile dances before my eyes as I write. All those who were graced with the gift of knowing Matt know the smile I am talking about. Matt never smiled with just his mouth. His whole face and body would light up. His eyes would dance and his vibrancy and energy just radiated from his whole being. It never mattered where we were, when I would meet Matt, he would bounce up to me, throw his arms around me in a hug only Matt could give, and immediately start into some conversation that would quickly suck me in. And we were lost in whatever topic was on his mind when we bumped into each other. His insight, humor, and concern, all poured out, regardless of whether we were talking about world affairs, a class, a friend, or clothes and fashion.
But there are other images of Matt that present themselves. Matt showing up at my door, and asking "Am I bothering you?". His eyes were not dancing, and he was not offering his energetic hug. His eyes had the look of a little boy who had just seen a scary movie. He'd come in and ask if he could "just hang". He'd have his backpack and schoolbooks with him. He'd either sit and watch TV for a little while, or take his books out and start doing homework. After a short time, he'd start talking about hearing someone call out "faggot", or hearing someone talk about "queers". We'd talk about how this touched Matt at the core of his heart, and he needed to feel safe again. Then he'd just hang around, regrouping, and trying to harden himself. Something that never came easy for Matt, because he was not the type of person to "be hard". After some time, the Matt with the dancing eyes would start coming back and he'd be off to class or to meet a friend for coffee.
Matt once told me that he was going to be famous and that he was going to make a difference in the area of human rights. I have to think he had no idea how true that statement would be.
Matt is never going to hop off my couch and bounce off to class or to meet a friend, ever again. But I have to believe that his eyes are dancing as he looks down and sees how he has touched the heart and soul of the people of this nation. But please remember, no matter what good may come from all of this, the price was too high. The price was too high. Please be safe." -WALTER BOUDIN
"Isn't it hard, standing in the rain. You're on the verge of going crazy, and your heart's in pain. No one can hear, but you're screaming so loud. You feel like you're all alone in a faceless crowd... reaching for a hand that'll understand -- someone who feels the same. When you live in a cookie cutter world, being different is a sin."
F O R M O R E I N F O R M A T I O N
VISIT ONE OF THESE SITES FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MATTHEW
National Online Vigil
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Matthew Shepard — 1976 - 1998