THE ULTIMATE SILENCE ~ October 12th, 1998
Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts,
The impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me ...
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.
~ Shel Silverstein
Fifteen years ago today, Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual.
What will you do to end the silence?
Today is the 15th year anniversary of Matthew Shepards death. A lot has changed since then. But not enough. Please read this, and check out the sites. STOP HATE BEFORE IT HAPPENS.
Seen him playing in his backyard
Young boy just starting out
So much history in this landscape
So much confusion, so much doubt
Been there drinking on that front porch
Angry kids, mean and dumb
Looks like a painting, that blue skyline
God hates fags where we come from
'Western skies' don't make it right
'Home of the brave' don't make no sense
I've seen a scarecrow wrapped in wire
Left to die on a high ridge fence
It's a cold, cold wind
It's a cold, cold wind
It's a cold wind blowing, Wyoming
See two coyotes run down a deer
Hate what we don't understand
You pioneers give us your children
But it's your blood that stains their hands
Somewhere that road forks up ahead
To ignorance and innocence
Three lives drift on different winds
Two lives ruined, one life spent
Matthew Shepard was born on December 1, 1976 in Casper, Wyoming to Judy and Dennis Shepard. He was their oldest son. Matthew attended Crest Hill grade school, Dean Morgan Junior High and completed his sophomore year at Natrona County High School in Casper. He attended the last two years of high school at the American School in Switzerland (TASIS) in Lugano, Switzerland, where he graduated in 1995. While at TASIS, he traveled extensively throughout Europe.
Matthew's secondary education began in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he attended Catawba College. He then transferred to the University of Wyoming. His major was political science and foreign relations with a minor in languages.
Matthew was active in many things. He was a member and an acolyte in St. Mark's Epicoplas Church. He was chosen to be the student representative for the Wyoming Environmental Council. He was also involved in Casper College and Stage III Theater plays, which he played several parts. He was active in politics and campaigned for several candidates. And, he was also an avid believer in equal human rights.
Matthew also had interests in sports. He enjoyed soccer, swimming, running, camping, hunting, fishing and show skiing, as well as dancing and theater..
On October 7,1998 Matthew's life took a turn for the end. He was picked up by two guys (his age) at a local college bar, and was taken a mile out of Laramie, Wyoming. He was then beaten with a pistol, tied to split rail fence (shown to the left), tortured and left for dead. He begged for his life. He was found by two bikers the next day in near freezing weather, at first mistook him for a scarecrow. He was unconscious and suffering from hypothermia. His face was caked with blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by tears.
He stayed in a coma until Monday, October 12. At 12:53 a.m. Matthew passed away. Matthew would have turned 22 on December 1.
He was killed because he was different, because he was gay.
Matthew's funeral was held on Friday, October 16, 1998, touched a lot of people all over the world. The tragic story of this gentle soul has touched the hearts of people across America, and throughout the World.
"Matthew was the type of person, that if this had happened to another person, would have been first on the scene to offer his help, his hope and his heart to the family. We should try to remember that because Matt's last view minutes of consciousness on earth may have been hell, his family and friends want more than ever to say their farewells to him in a peaceful, dignified and loving manner. Once again, I must express our appreciation for the outpouring of concern about Matt's wellbeing during the last week, as he fought for his life in the hospital. We'll never forget the love that the world has shared with this kind, loving son."
- Statement of Matthew's father; after Matthew's death
After his death, Matthew's parents founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation (http://www.matthewshepard.org). The goals of the Matthew Shepard Foundation include supporting diversity programs in education and helping youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves. The Matthew Shepard Foundation's primary goal is to educate and replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. Matthew's mother, Mrs. Judy Shepard, travels throughout the United States speaking at businesses, colleges, universities and high schools in an effort to educate young people about how to erase hate, and on the acceptance of diversity.