On the twelfth of October, 1998, twenty-one year old college student Matthew Shepard, was abducted, tortured, and left to die in an open field under the expansive Wyoming sky. To mark the fifteenth anniversary of Matthew's murder and to spread a message of love and inclusion to LGBT youth and young adults, GLAAD is partnering with other LGBT rights organizations and Washington's National Cathedral to hold a series of events to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
The events will kick off on Friday evening, October fourth, with the East coast premiere of the film Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine. The film chronicles director Michele Josue, a friend of Matthew, as she journeys back to the locations where Matthew lived, grew up, and died. She visits with those who knew him swapping memories and painting a picture of a young life whose legacy seems to defy death. Even in only viewing the trailer, the juxtaposition between the beautiful Wyoming landscape the onslaught of unspeakable tragedy is unsettlingly moving.
On Sunday Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard, will be joined by Joshua Deese, an LGBT advocate from The Trevor Project, and Jane Clementi, the mother of Tyler Clementi, an eighteen year old Rutgers student who died by suicide after his roommate clandestinely filmed him sharing an intimate moment with another man. The three activists will lead a panel at 10:10 AM where they will discuss the impact that Matthew and Tyler's legacies have had on LGBT youth. The panel will be followed by a special Eucharist in honor of LGBT youth and young adults.
"For too long, LGBT people have been ostracized by or unwelcome in faith communities who have used the Bible like a weapon," said Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. Gary Hall. "Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer where all are welcome, and where all people can experience God's boundless love and grace."
The National Cathedral has a long history of welcoming LGBT people into its community. In January the 106 year old Episcopal cathedral began performing weddings for gay and lesbian couples. In June, a contingency from the cathdedral marched in Washington's pride parade, and the great cathedral bells pealed in celebration of the Supreme Court's decison to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. GLAAD is proud to partner with the Cathedral and we urge all our supporters in the DC area to attend the events!