WBEZ | Matthew Shepard http://www.wbez.org/tags/matthew-shepard Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Remembering Matthew Shepard http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-10-13/remembering-matthew-shepard-93127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-13/101335338_747f628954.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On this day in 1998, Matthew Shepard, a wisp of a boy, was tied to a fence post and left to die overnight in freezing temperatures after a crushing assault. He’d been bashed to death for a simple reason: he was queer.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-13/101335338_747f628954.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 277px; height: 285px;" title="">Twenty one years old but looking more like a pre-teen, Shepard was hardly recognizable as human when he was found.</p><p>Four days later, on October 17, I went to Casper, Wyoming, a <em>Chicago Tribune</em> reporter, to <a href="http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/35193044.html?FMT=ABS&amp;FMTS=ABS:FT&amp;type=current&amp;date=Oct+17%2C+1998&amp;author=Achy+Obejas%2C+Tribune+Staff+Writer.&amp;pub=Chicago+Tribune&amp;edition=&amp;startpage=1&amp;desc=STUDENT%27S+FUNERAL+BECOMES+UNITY+RALLY+MOURNERS+GATHER+TO+DECRY+HATRED">cover the funeral</a>.</p><p>The service took place inside St. Mark’s church, where Shepard had been an acolyte. Bouquets lined the walls; outside, hundreds of mourners surrounded the church in the cold, heavy snow that fell all day long. Tree branches cracked from the weight of the snow, power went out five times during the service.</p><p>One of the most striking things about the Shepard funeral was that the LGBTQ community took a deliberately low profile. “There appeared to be no organized gay community presence, but that may have been in response to requests from the Shepard family and gay and lesbian national organizations that anti-gay protesters not be confronted at the funeral,” I wrote in the <em>Trib</em> piece.</p><p>Instead, the focus turned almost exclusively to nongays: The protestors from Fred Phelps’ hate church held up signs that said “Matt in Hell” and “AIDS cures fags.” Casper families protested against them in turn, passing out yellow ribbons with the word “hate” and a slash through it.</p><p>I remember an unbearable loneliness standing in that crowd, a numbing anonymity, a sense of being erased as a gay person, even as what was being headlined was precisely Matthew Shepard’s fate as a gay person.</p><p>But I didn’t write the piece in first person -- it was straight up news. I did, however, include these last two grafs, a way, I think, of being present, of acknowledging the fear, and of standing up:</p><p>“Among those who came to say their farewells were gay men who had driven in from out of state. Ed Holtzhauser, a 24-year-old accountant from New Jersey, was among them. As he got out of his car less than a block from the church Friday morning, a yellow pickup truck drove by and its driver yelled an epithet.</p><p>"After hearing about this, I felt nothing else in my life was as important right now as being here, showing support," Holtzhauser said."</p></p> Thu, 13 Oct 2011 17:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-10-13/remembering-matthew-shepard-93127 The significance of the Matthew Shepard Act http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/significance-matthew-shepard-act <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2010-October/2010-10-28/matthew shepard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On this day last year, a milestone for the gay community was met. President Obama signed into law <a href="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.909:">The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.</a> Under its terms, violence against gay people is a hate crime subject to prosecution. It also allows the federal government to step in if states are negligent in seeking recourse for victims. To learn more about the significance and effectiveness of this law, we talk with Camilla Taylor. She&rsquo;s a senior staff attorney at <a href="http://www.lambdalegal.org/">Lambda Legal. </a></p></p> Thu, 28 Oct 2010 13:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/significance-matthew-shepard-act