Saturday, April 16, 2011

Matthew Shepard

In 1998, Matt Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and left for dead on a fencepost in the middle of the Wyoming countryside. It's a desolate, unfriendly place on the sunniest of days; it's harrowing to think of how menacing that flat, dry land would be in the last gasping moments of life.

Matt was gay. His murderers tried to claim 'temporary insanity' as a defense, then tried to say they were driven to do it because Matt came on to them. Their girlfriends told police that they wanted to rob a gay man, so yeah, it was probably premeditated. The murderers are locked up for life, as they should be, but it took until 2009 for the US to sign The Matthew Shepard Act into law (and not without many years of scornful Republican backlash - one even called the hate crime labelling of Shepard's death 'a hoax'). If there is one silvery-sheened lining, it is that hate crimes are now illegal in America.

In 1995, Matt Shepard graduated from TASIS, the Swiss school that I've worked with off and on since 2002. Some of the people I've met at TASIS knew Matt, and remember a creative, joyful, kind soul. One of these friends is working on a documentary about Matt's life and legacy.

Michele Josue is a gifted filmmaker - she also does freelance work for TASIS, and you can see her charming short films on the website - and I was intrigued when I first learned of this project. She posted a blog the other night that, after watching the film teaser, had me in fits of tears. Michele has set up a Kickstarter fundraising website and a Facebook page for those keen to support the final stages of this project.

This is an important film and I so admire Michele, Liam, and Chad's commitment to making it happen.

Image above by Alfred Hawkins.


Nicola said...

This is so terribly sad. Thank you for blogging about this. I hope that everyone reading this will take a step to support Michele in her documentary. My heart goes out to Matthew's family and friends.

Colin Galbraith said...

I put this out on Twitter and Facebook - best of luck with it.

Kristin said...

Thanks, Nicola and Colin. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Sad. May he rest in peace