Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Judy Shepard shares son's life at Center event
2010-10-06

This article shared 3573 times since Wed Oct 6, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


By Tully Satre

"Twelve years ago when Matt died, a lot of people woke up," said Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard. Oct. 12 marks the 12th anniversary of 21-year-old Matthew's brutal murder when he was tortured and left to die, tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyo.

Matthew has been on the mind of many in the gay community with the string of media reports on teenagers driven to suicide because of animosities towards their sexual orientation. "Things are still not right," Shepard said, "in the past four weeks there have been several incidents because someone was gay or perceived to be gay."

Judy Shepard was the keynote speaker Sept. 30 at Center on Halsted, as part of the organization's latest program, "H.E.A.L. Ourselves: Opening Eyes, Closing Wounds ( Healing, Engaging, Acting, Lifting ) "—and the event could not be more timely.

Shepard's speech was the highlight of this series of events geared towards, "celebrating advocacy against LGBT hate violence," as motivational speaker Greg Baird stated before introducing Illinois State Sen. John Cullerton.

Cullerton ( president of the Illinois State Senate and the chief sponsor of an LGBT-inclusive Illinois' hate-crime law in 1990 ) introduced Shepard as the evening's speaker, stating that, "There are no guarantees that our statues will change the opinions of the people … that's why we have people like Judy Shepard."

After a brief video clip splicing together the tragic stories of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. ( two infamous 1998 murders triggered by hate ) , Judy Shepard took to the stage amidst applause. With a series of props, including reading glasses ( "I recently joined AARP," Shepard joked ) and a fan ( "I am a woman of a certain age," she explained ) , Shepard had the packed Hoover-Leppen theatre in fits of laughter, lightening the serious tone of the evening.

Shortly after the tragic murder of her son, Judy Shepard started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to share Matthew's story in hopes of "replacing hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance."

The success of the organization has left its mark in the history of the gay-rights movement: Nearly a year ago and over a decade after Matthew's death, President Obama signed the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act," adding gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to a federal hate-crime law.

"If you think we pass laws and it is all okay, well, it isn't," Shepard stated, "We still have problems and the key to solving those problems is to share our stories."

"Share our stories" became the mantra for the evening. "You think you can come out once and that you're done?" Shepard asked the crowd,  "Sorry you're not. That's not the case.

The gay community has made it clear that it wants change. That impatience has caused a lot of pressure on the White House, where Obama's administration has been battling with Congress to own up to the ideal of a free and equal country. Shepard had no problem addressing this frustration. "This is not something that President Obama can do alone," she explained, "Partisan politics has gone way overboard."

"If it has escaped anyone's attention here: it's an election year," Shepard continued. "When [ LGBT-supportive officials ] are elected you need to hold their feet to the fire to make sure that's what they do."

Shepard maintained her poise ( as much of the audience became emotional ) while reading, in full, the impact statement she wrote for the trial of her son's killer in 1999. "They learned that it was okay to hate," Shepard explained, "The only way we're going to get rid of those stereotypes is ya'll have got to tell your stories ... gay and straight. You need to make everyone understand that it is okay. It is who you are."

Shepard shared many stories about Matt from his coming out when he was 18 to his stubborn attitude, which Shepard recalled with a smile: "He loved to argue, even when you may have agreed with him." Shepard published a book in 2009 entitled The Meaning of Matthew, in which she shares stories about Matt's life and how it affected her family and the world the night he was murdered.

Shepard opened the floor to questions and comments. One audience member stated, "We wouldn't have a federal hate-crimes law without you," to roaring applause.

Shepard was questioned on a range of topics from homeless youth to religion. She briefly discussed the divide between religion and the gay community and held an intense conversation with one audience member tackling this issue.

Shepard shared a story about a gay couple who told her they had been attending a Catholic Church for 30 years although they were not made welcome by the congregation: No one would sit by them during mass or take communion after them, and they were never invited to any social events within the church. The couple, she explained, refused to find an affirming church "because," they asked, "how else will they understand?"

They make a good point, thought Shepard, emphasizing the importance of sharing and educating, "By voting, by speaking out, by being part of the system ... by telling your story."

Many points throughout the evening echoed the goals and visions of the Matthew Shepard Foundation of promoting diversity and replacing hate with compassion, a value that Shepard pointed out streamed from her Christian beliefs. "You are who you are and that's great because many people gay and straight never know who they are." Shepard continued to recognize the need for people to share their stories, "Don't waste 50 years of your life not sharing your life with people that you love."

Shepard concluded the evening with a classic Native American story about a fight between two wolves: one is evil ( full of anger and arrogance ) and the other is good ( full of peace and love ) —the one that wins? "The one you feed," quoted Shepard to a standing ovation.

More about the Matthew Shepard Foundation is at www.MatthewShepard.org; additional info about Matthew's Place ( for youth ) is at www.MatthewsPlace.com .


This article shared 3573 times since Wed Oct 6, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

IL General Assembly LGBTQ Caucus condemns Proud Boys led censorship in Downers Grove 2021-11-19
--From a press release - CHICAGO - The five openly LGBTQ members of the Illinois General Assembly today call on Downers Grove District 99 to protect LGBTQ youth in their community from hate and censorship by immediately rejecting calls to censor ...


Gay News

WORLD Italian senate, Polish bill, LGBTQ+ Afghans, soccer player 2021-10-31
- Italy's senate killed a bill that would have made violence against LGBTQ+ and disabled people, as well as misogyny, a hate crime, The Guardian reported. The 315-member senate voted 154 to 131 to block the debate ...


Gay News

LGBT History Month: Reclaiming 41, journey to heal notorious trauma for LGBT Mexicans 2021-10-11
- Until recently, Alberto B. Mendoza hated 41. He cringed if his dinner bill or hotel room number had the number in it, and with the countdown to his 41st birthday, he dreaded the year to come. ...


Gay News

WORLD False report, Indian activist dies, fashion exhibit, LGBT Awards 2021-09-12
- In Spain, a man who claimed eight hooded men carved an anti-gay slur on his butt using a knife in a horrific hate crime later said the act was consensual, according to out.com. According to police ...


Gay News

Wis. man attacks trans couple but won't be charged with a hate crime 2021-08-04
- In Wisconsin, a La Crosse official said incomplete state laws prevented them from charging a man with a hate crime after he attacked a transgender couple in a public park, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. La ...


Gay News

Analysis of hate crime laws finds limitations, opportunities, rising hate violence 2021-07-28
--From a Movement Advancement Project, National Center for Lesbian Rights press release - With a rise in hate violence across the country, a new report from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and 16 leading civil rights organizations provides a groundbreaking analysis of state and federal hate crime laws. The ...


Gay News

WORLD Anti-LGBTQ crimes, conversion therapy, out prime minister, Pakistan school 2021-07-11
- In England, police are treating the painting of a homophobic slur on an LGBTQ Pride mural as a hate crime, the BBC reported. The wall in St Helens, Merseyside, which was painted by volunteers and artists ...


Gay News

THEATER Goodman's 'I Hate It Here' to stream July 15-18 2021-07-02
- Goodman Theatre's streaming-in-real-time Live series will conclude with I Hate It Here, written by Ike Holter and directed by Lili-Anne Brown. I Hate It Here appears July 15, at 7:30 p.m.; July 16, at 7:30 p.m.; ...


Gay News

President Biden signs historic hate crimes bill into law 2021-05-20
- WASHINGTON — Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement after President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which included the Khalid ...


Gay News

BOOKS Lesbian author Amanda Kabak to release hate-crime novel July 20 2021-05-15
- Lesbian author Amanda Kabak—a Chicago native who now resides in Lakeland, Florida—is releasing the novel Upended on July 20. In Upended, Maddie, a driven entrepreneur, finds her world thrown into disarray when she survives a hate ...


Gay News

WORLD Caribbean group, hate crime, 'Queen of the Pacific,' volcano wedding 2021-05-02
- A Caribbean advocacy group launched a fund to help LGBTQ people who have been impacted by the eruption of a volcano on the island of St. Vincent, The Washington Blade reported. The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for ...


Gay News

Senate passes COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, NMAC responds 2021-04-22
--From a press release - April 22, 2021 - Following is a statement from NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata on Senate passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. "NMAC applauds the Senate passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in an ...


Gay News

Former 'Bachelor' comes out as gay 2021-04-14
- In a Good Morning America (GMA) interview that aired April 14, former Bachelor Colton Underwood came out as gay, Entertainment Weekly reported. "I've [run] from myself for a long time, I've hated myself for a long ...


Gay News

Bennett, Noriega named to Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes 2021-04-13
- On April 13, Gov. JB Pritzker announced appointments in his administration—including noted LGBTQ Chicagoans Jim Bennett and Mona Noriega to the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. Bennett currently serves ...


Gay News

WORLD Uzbek activist, hate-crimes report, Ghana arrests, Chely Wright 2021-04-04
- Uzbek activist Miraziz Bazarov was hospitalized after he was attacked by unknown men hours after his public event was disrupted by dozens of aggressive men in Tashkent, RFERL.org reported. Physicians at the Tashkent Traumatology Hospital said ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.