by Mike Telin
October 12, 2023
Twenty-five years ago today, Matthew Shepard lost his life to a brutal act of hate and violence that shocked our nation and the world. The week prior, Matthew had been viciously attacked in a horrific anti-gay hate crime and left to die – simply for being himself.
Matthew’s tragic and senseless murder shook the conscience of the American people. And his courageous parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, turned Matthew’s memory into a movement, galvanizing millions of people to combat the scourge of anti-LGBTQI+ hate and violence in America.
On October 6, 1998 Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, accepted a ride home from two men at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie. Instead, Shepard was driven to a remote area where he was pistol-whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left for dead. Shepard died six days later from brain damage.
Shepard’s murder would later become the inspiration for Craig Hella Johnson’s fusion oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard.