The Meaning of Matthew Shepard

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Tomorrow our friend John Sullivan is hosting a fundraiser for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. John is well-known in our community for his leadership and advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ causes including his national and local work for the Human Rights Campaign, fundraising for all kinds of local LGBTQ organizations and for his continued support of this Foundation.

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day and it is critical that we pause and remember Matthew Shepard.  I still recall the first time I heard and read the details about his death  I remember being shocked by the raw cruelty and torture he endured. And yet his death struck a deep chord with all of us, because we knew his experience to be true from our own personal experiences at the hands of others.  And this was the first time that the national right wing was truly silenced by the horrific details of the death. Their effect of their ongoing hatred was revealed for all to see.

Matthew’s death was a watershed moment for me, and I expect for many of us in the LGBTQ community. And now, as we face another barrage of disguised intolerance and harassment from President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the rest of the homophobic alt right, we must remain steadfast in our fight for dignity, freedom and equal rights. We will not give an inch.

So be proud and loud of who you are on Wednesday. And be thankful for Matthew Shepard and all who suffered before us, so that we could have our National Coming Out Day.

Thank you, too, to John Sullivan and so many others in our community for your unflagging leadership.

Tom Hoch  

Tom Hoch