December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998
When I moved to America, in October of 1998, the hot topic on our local news (Colorado) was the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, just north of Denver. I was absolutely riveted by this news story. As a recent immigrant, this was not a side of America that I knew or understood or even thought possible. A boy, tied to a fence and beaten to death because he was gay? A hate crime that was so despicable that it really shook me to the core. How was this possible? In America? I knew so little of this country after all.
I can’t believe it has been 13 years since Matthew’s death. What a terrible loss. His parents have blazed a trail for LGBT rights in this country. I have never understood, and never will, the stance of people who are against gay marriage, or equal rights for gay people. Who is anyone to judge how anyone else lives? What gives people this right? And frankly, how does it affect your daily life if gay people have equal rights? I don’t get it. How sad that 13 years later, so much has changed and yet so little has changed. My friend was telling me the other day how a third grader on the bus told another boy that he was ‘so gay‘. Surely children learn this kind of intolerance from the adults in their life. It is time to stop. We cannot let another Matthew die because of this kind of ignorance.