The Matthew Shepard murder — 20 years later

Twenty years later and nearly every week.  Actually were it not for dead naming probably every week brings nes of another murder of a trans-woman.  Most often a trans-woman of color, oten a sex worker and therefore her life deemed less valuable.

When will murders of trans-women create the same wave of outrage that the murder of Matthew Sheppard create.  When will plays be written.  When will people become aware of the daily acts of violence both physical and emotional that trans-folks endure in our daily lives.

From The Dallas Voice:  https://www.dallasvoice.com/the-matthew-shepard-murder-20-years-later/

David Webb
Oct 5, 2018

Small, effeminate, friendly and probably gullible, the attractive, blond 19-year-old teenager with the engaging smile never stood a chance when two maniacal thugs targeted him that night 20 years ago for robbery and worse in a crime that would rock a city, a state and the nation.

This month — October 2018 — marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a former University of Wyoming college student who became the face of anti-LGBTQ hate crime after the news of his grisly murder in 1998 spread internationally.

But while he never knew anything about the controversy surrounding him in his last few last days of life, he truly did not die in vain.

The city of Laramie and the University of Wyoming are preparing to commemorate the anniversary of the openly-gay student’s death with a series of events, includinge a performance of “Considering Matthew Shepard” by Grammy-winning choral group Conspirare at Laramie High School Theater Oct. 6, the anniversary of the day Shepard was found, tied like a scarecrow to a fence and barely alive.

In announcing the plans, Laramie Mayor Andi Summerville said the international attention drawn to Laramie in the wake of Shepard’s death “rocked this community … absolutely to its fundamental core.” The mayor was 17 at the time of Shepard’s death, and she described the experience of living through that time and revisiting it today as “surreal.”

During the trials of the two men accused of his murder, the world learned that the killers pretended to be gay in order to lure Shepard in and rob him. After meeting him in the college-town bar and enticing him to leave, the men pistol-whipped him, stole his cash and credit cards, tied him to a wooden pasture fence and left him dying in the bitter mountain cold. Shepard died of brain injuries, never having woken from the coma caused by the attack, on Oct. 12, 1998, after six days on life-support.

As Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen notes, Shepard’s death shook the nation alert to the reality of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Cohen’s organization is the pre-eminent chronicler of hate crimes and hate groups in the U.S.

“Just as the murder of Emmett Till [a 14-year-old black youth who was pistol-whipped, mutilated and tossed in a river in Mississippi in 1955] awakened America to the reality of racial violence, so the murder of Matthew Shepard awakened our country to the reality of violence against the LGBTQ community,” Cohen said of the importance of Shepard’s case.
Like Till, whose killers got an acquittal from an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary because Till had allegedly insulted a white woman, Shepard in death inspired a revolution in attitudes toward anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence.

The outrage spawned by Till’s death among blacks and sympathetic whites precipitated the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott four months after his funeral. Similarly, Shepard posthumously became an icon, and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. (a black man killed by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas, in June 1998) Hate Crime Act was passed by Congress in 2009, 11 years after the two men’s murders.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation, with the support of his parents, Judy and Dennis, keeps the story and the lesson to be learned from his death alive today. After his murder, the Tectonic Theater Project in New York City went to Laramie to learn about the impact of the crime on the city. The group created The Laramie Project, a play about the heinous anti-LGBTQ hate crime.

The foundation bearing the victim’s name funds the presentation of the play across America, and the nonprofit group provides ongoing media resources and other information services to combat anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.

Continue reading at:  https://www.dallasvoice.com/the-matthew-shepard-murder-20-years-later/

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