30% OFF Pride collection code: USAPRIDE! Free Shipping over $99

Judy Shepard: WY ‘Has Taken Two Steps Back’

by The Next Family October 16, 2013


LGBT rights may be making progress, but it’s not going quick enough for Judy Shepard whose son Matthew was the victim of a brutal anti-gay hate crime 15 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming.

Matthew died October 12, 1998 at age 21, six days after he was beaten and left on a fence by two men he met at a bar while he was attending the University of Wyoming.

“Matthew’s death gave Wyoming a perfect opportunity to take the first step toward equality,” Shepard said. “Instead, it has taken two steps back.”

Shepard is shocked the state still has no hate-crime laws, let alone one based on crimes against sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this, she said a lot of LGBT people in Wyoming choose to stay in the closet.

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shepard also talked about the play The Laramie Project that addressed the town’s reactions to Matthew’s death. The play showed at the University of Mississippi, and some of the audience members shouted antigay slurs at the actors.

“It’s disappointing the nation as a whole isn’t embracing the movement to accept people like Matthew,” she told the Times. “We’ve still got a long way to go. That’s why an incident in Mississippi can still happen.”

Shepard set up the Matthew Shepard Foundation and was described as a “tireless advocate for gay rights.” The foundation’s executive director, Jason Marsden, thinks progress has been made for the LGBT community, pointing out the openly gay state legislator from Laramie that was elected in 2009, Cathy Connolly.

Marsden did, however, dismiss the book The Book of Matt, which claims that his murder was not a hate crime, but instead over drugs. His mother had no statements concerning the book.

Shepard has never been to the spot where Matthew died. She does, however, keep her sons watch, which was rescued from the police evidence room as he was wearing it when attacked.  She had given it to him as a graduation gift and now keeps the watch on her dresser “as a reminder of Matthew’s life – and that time goes on.”

Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian

The post Judy Shepard: WY ‘Has Taken Two Steps Back’ appeared first on The Next Family.

The Next Family
The Next Family


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Parenting

Modern Fitness For the Modern Parent

by The Next Family March 25, 2016


Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian

By Laura King

Life can get busy. With work, kids, family commitments, friends, chores, and the general chaos of everyday life, it can be near impossible at times to sit down for a cup of tea, let alone squeeze in an hour of exercise regularly. However, all things are possible if you set your mind to them. Those that prioritize their fitness nearly...

Continue Reading →

Estate Planning: The Basics For LGBT Families

by The Next Family March 25, 2016

With the passage of marriage equality last year, laws have been quickly changing across the United States. LGBT couples with or without children weren’t just given the right of marriage, they were provided new protections and benefits within their families. All of a sudden, LGBT couples and families had to figure out how to file jointly when it came to taxes, how to add...

Continue Reading →

Representation of Modern Families in Kid-Friendly Entertainment

by The Next Family March 24, 2016 1 Comment


By Alex Temblador

I recently wrote an article for The Next Family called, “Family-Friendly Films That Feature Adoption and Foster Care,” that shared wonderful family films with adoption or foster care story lines. My reasoning behind doing so was because every family deserves a chance to see similar families like theirs represented in various forms of entertainment.

The same can be said of other...

Continue Reading →