Many people have seen the Laromie Project (play originally by the Denver Theatre Company OR the HBO movie written and directed by Kaufman) or at the very least heard about the terrible hate crime/murder of Matthew Shepard that took place 11 years ago (October 12, 1998 to be exact) in Laramie, Wyoming.
Now, his mother, Judy Shepard has come out with a book/memoir about the life and death of her son called The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. Judy is also the director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation which is involved in various initiatives to reduce LGBT discrimination and certainly hate crimes. An excerpt and interview in Newsweek sheds some light on her mission to prevent what happened to her son from happening to others. The following quote from her book describes when her and her husband Dennis first found out that Mathew, their son, was in a coma. At the time, Dennis was working in Saudi Arabia and they both had to wait a day before they could finally return to the US to see their son.
Here is the excerpt from the book:
“Dennis and I had only limited information about the extent of Matt’s injuries, and absolutely no information about the circumstances surrounding his attack. We knew he was critically injured and that his hold on life was tenuous, at best. Still, our highest hope at that point was for Matt’s complete recovery. Our most basic, and perhaps most realistic, hope was that he would hold on to life until we could be with him, by his side.”
So sad. I think the book must be a great way to get more closer on the tragedy. But it doesn’t stop there. As aforementioned, she and the Foundation are trying to impose what would be called the Matthew Shepard Act, which their website describes would be a,” “response to the unrelenting and under-addressed problem of violent hate crimes committed against individuals based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.” With Judy’s changes, The bill created by Ted Kennedy would expand existing hate crime laws to prosecute crimes based on “actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” As it stands now, the law only classifies it as a hate crime if the victim was targeted because of race, color, religion or national origin – sexual orientation is excluded. She also hopes it could include a provision for anti-hate-crime education in schools