Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, assaulted and left to die in Wyoming in 1998. The heinous crime was driven by hatred and unacceptance of the gay community. Twenty years after the horrible crime was committed, Matthew was laid to rest in Washington National Cathedral on Friday 26 October.
The death of Shepard is seen as an international and inspiring symbol for the fight against crimes directed at the LGBT community. In October 1998, Matt Shepard was tied to a post in Wyoming where his attackers brutally hit and assaulted him with the butt of a pistol. He was left on the post in the cold for eighteen hours. He passed away in a hospital a couple of days after he was found.
This hate crime has become a national and international symbol for the fight against hate crimes specifically aimed at the LGBT community. After the death of Shepard, the world but more specifically the United States were shocked and clamped down on their laws on hate crimes.
The Shepard’s also established a foundation aimed at combating hate crimes against the LGBT community and supporting the youth who forms a part of this community. Matt Shepard’s attackers both got life sentences for the crime they committed.
Dennis and Judy Shepard, Matt’s parents, are grateful for the opportunity to have Matt’s remains laid to rest in the Washing National Cathedral. It is an honour and privilege and here he shares the space with other inspirational leaders of America. The family is happy to be able to share Matthew’s memory with members of the public.
The episcopal church sees no less than 270,000 visitors annually, all of whom will now be able to pay their respects and honour the memory of Matthew Shepard.
Matt’s parents have been looking for a final resting place for his remains for a very long time. As dedicated Episcopalians, having his ashes interred at Washington National Cathedral was the perfect option. Here there would be no risk of vandalism and they will be able to find peace after twenty years finally.
Reverend Gene Robinson, the church’s first gay bishop and a family friend of the Shepards, said on Friday that now the family can finally get some closure. The family has also donated some of Matt’s belongings to the Smithsonian Museum, in the hopes that people would get to know their lost son as a person rather than a symbol of LGBT rights.