Guest Post: Matt Shepard is a son of mine

Editor's note: The following is a guest post authored by Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard. Today, December 1st, marks what would have been Matthew Shepard's 39th birthday. 

When Matt was murdered in 1998 at age 21 because he was gay, we had no idea his story would go on to affect so many people. His name and face became known worldwide as a symbol of the terrible price of hatred.

As his parents, we wanted to make a difference and prevent tragedies like this from happening to other families. As we began our work as advocates, we met so many others who made it their responsibility to change hearts and minds in their corner of the world. They heard us telling Matt’s story and, in turn, we heard them share their own stories, and their hopes to foster a more just and caring world.

GLAAD has worked with our family for years to share Matt's story, helping to build understanding and acceptance for the LGBT community. It’s our individual stories and journeys that pave the way toward understanding, compassion and acceptance. 

That’s why the film “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” is so powerful and important. Over the years we noticed the Matt we knew was being lost to the legacy of “Matthew Shepard.” This film shares the story of the Matt his loved ones knew, through his friend Michele Josue’s eyes. This film helps people see parts of themselves in Matt, and see that victims of these crimes are more than victims. Matt was more than an icon and not a martyr. He was a person who knew love, pain, happiness and sadness. By learning about the real Matt, the one we and his friends knew and loved, I believe they’ll better understand what we’re fighting so tirelessly to achieve.

We hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to watch Matt's story and that it will inspire you to speak out for equality for all.

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine: Judy Shepard's Courtroom Speech from Michele Josue on Vimeo.

Today is what would have been Matt's 39th birthday. For this week only, viewers can watch and buy the film at at a special discounted price of $3.90 in honor of Matt. During this limited time, supporters have the option to pay more than $3.90 and donate to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

To learn more about the Matthew Shepard Foundation, please visit: