Matthew Shepard | Digital Journal | 14351
Matthew Shepard died on October 12, 1998, five days after being brutally attacked in one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history. Matthew’s death changed the way people viewed and talked about LGBT people, and eventually led to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law against bias-motivated crimes targeting LGBT people, among others.
Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, who has since become a staunch advocate for the lives of LGBT people, wrote about what she learned in the days following her son’s death:
We learned about the LGBT community and its long struggle for acceptance and equality. We learned how easily LGBT people could be fired from their jobs just for being themselves, how they couldn’t serve their country openly, couldn’t marry, couldn’t adopt kids in some states. And most of all, we learned about the fear so many otherwise good people had in their hearts about their gay neighbors, coworkers and family members.
She went on to say that her family “decided to try to make a difference in his name.” The Matthew Shepard Foundation was created to stand up for the LGBT community in Matthew’s memory.
In October 2014 The Guardian published claims that the murder of Shepard was related to drugs and was not a gay hate crime.
Updated 26 October 2014