I lived in Matthew Sheperd’s hometown of Casper, WY for three years. He had studied at political science Casper College where I once taught.
I never knew him, but I remember his death. I think about him often. I am only 11 days older than him.
There have been efforts of late to dismiss the the extent to which homosexuality played a role in Matthew’s murder. Such attempts are completely contrary to the evidence that came up during the trial that convicted his killers.
Now, we cannot know for sure everything that happened that night which ended with Matthew tied to a fence post and left to die. However, the question that is most interesting to me is not the motive of Matthew’s killers, but the motives of the social conservatives who want to change the story.
My conclusion is that certain social conservative factions are trying to change the narrative. They are trying to portray homosexuals as a privileged elite rather than a group which has for centuries been to the target of brutal violence and oppression.
Instead, they insist that it is social conservatives, and specifically social conservative Christians, who are the real victims. People are being mean to them and threatening them for their beliefs, the story goes. That is a narrative that is impossible to accept if you are at all aware of the history of violence against homosexuals in America and the rest of the world.
Even if there has been backlash against such things as Proposition 8, conservatives have never had to live under that vulnerable and fearful conditions that many homosexuals do because of violence and hate.
By trying to portray the murder of Matthew Shepard as an event which had nothing to do with homosexuality, people like Sandy Rios are seeking to distract us from what happened to Matthew in order to justify their own anti-homosexual agenda.
I will never let that happen. I hope you will join me.
I will never forget.