Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Considering Matthew Shepard
by Gregory Hinton
2016-08-31

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


It's hard to believe that he would have been 40 this December. As a gay expat who long ago evacuated the reddening Rocky Mountain West for the warming blue shores of Southern California, the 1998 murder of a young, gay college student in Laramie, Wyoming, caught my attention.

Lured from a local bar, he was kidnapped, robbed, savagely beaten, tied to a fence and left "begging for his life" on a freezing October night under a blanket of Wyoming stars. When he passed away, five days later, the world was watching.

"His name was Matthew Wayne Shepard," inscribed Grammy-winning conductor Craig Hella Johnson into the libretto of Considering Matthew Shepard, his first concert-length work for Conspirare, the radiant Austin professional choir that Johnson, as artistic director, founded in 1991.

Considering Matthew Shepard is a sweeping, Western "fusion" oratorio—classical, contemporary and cowboy. In orthodox terms, an oratorio is a religious story, a grand musical composition for orchestra, choir and soloists.

For my work as curator of Out West, a national LGBT museum program series, I was invited to attend a February preview event of Considering Matthew Shepard in Beverly Hills, a long way from where I am originally from: 1950s rural Cody, Wyoming.

That evening, Craig performed his song, "Ordinary Boy," with words from Matt's personal journal. When Matt's character jubilantly sang, "I love Wyoming!," it broke me.

For nearly two decades I have felt guilty for loving Wyoming because of the despicable way Matthew Shepard was murdered. I stayed away from the rural West because of it. And suddenly, in Matt's own words, I learned that he loved Wyoming, too. I am forever indebted to Considering Matthew Shepard for reintroducing me to "ordinary" Matt.

Considering Matthew Shepard had its world premiere in Austin on Feb. 20, 2016. I was privileged to attend. When Craig Hella Johnson took the stage, the audience fell silent and sat absolutely motionless for the next hundred minutes. After sustained rounds of thundering applause, with critical raves still raining down; I concur with the written remarks of a fellow audience member out there in the dark: "We knew we were experiencing something life-changing—something beyond beautiful ... something to be remembered the rest of our lives."

Considering Matthew Shepard joins the ranks of many significant emotional, scholarly and artistic responses to Matthew Shepard's legacy; including books, poetry, paintings, stories, songs, plays, and films. The Laramie Project, by Moises Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project, has been seen by 30 million people.

Jason Marsden, executive director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, calls Considering Matthew Shepard "by far the most intricate, beautiful and unyielding artistic response to this notorious anti-gay hate crime."

I visited Jason at his offices in Denver about a week after the June 12 massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that's been called "the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history." I guessed he had been tasked to comment. Ordinarily affable and measured, Jason did not mask his distress. "I didn't know where to begin," he told me, but Jason found the words.

Last October, I was privileged to meet with Dennis and Judy Shepard in Casper to preview their personal collection of public condolence letters in the wake of Matt's passing. They were welcoming and earnest. Only now do I realize how much we collectively ask of the Shepard family and how much it has given back to our community in the name of its eldest son.

Thanks to Out West, I visit Wyoming often. Next trip, I look forward to bringing along my CD of Considering Matthew Shepard. In addition to "Ordinary Boy," another favorite is "The Innocence," movingly performed by Matt Alber, which, for me, invokes the light and darkness of Stonewall, Laramie and Orlando, where we laughed before we cried.

I hope Wyoming embraces Considering Matthew Shepard as its official "state oratorio."

Put it to a vote only after listening to the opening track of the joyous, expansive "Cattle, Horses, Sky and Grass," from Wyoming's own cowboy poet, Sue Wallis, with contributions from eastern Wyoming poet John Nesbitt.

Until I make it home, I'll crank up Considering Matthew Shepard while navigating the clamoring streets of Hollywood and dream of Matt's better Wyoming.

About Considering Matthew Shepard

On Friday, Sept. 9, Harmonia Mundi will release the CD recording of Considering Matthew Shepard. An excerpt can be streamed at open.spotify.com/track/5Mh2keE6C1JEtcHnvhUSr3 .

About Gregory Hinton

Gregory Hinton is an author, filmmaker and creator of Out West, an innovative museum program series devoted to illuminating LGBT history and culture in the American West. In 2015, Hinton co-founded Out West in the Rockies, a dedicated LGBT western archive at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center in Laramie. Recently profiled in the Los Angeles Times, Hinton has also been interviewed by the New York Times, multiple NPR affiliates, and many metro and community newspapers throughout the West.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

MOMBIAN LGBTQ-inclusive books, and hope, in rural schools 2019-10-16 - LGBTQ students in rural schools are more likely to face bias and discrimination than those in urban and suburban ones, but their schools ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Ignorance and shortsightedness lead us to the Supreme Court 2019-10-02 - We will always find ourselves going back to the courts to fight for inclusion until we place the needs of the most vulnerable ...


Gay News

LETTER Attorneys needed 2019-10-02 - Dear Editor: According to the report "The Justice Gap," low-income Americans receive no or inadequate legal help for 86 percent for ...


Gay News

Activists halt U.S. Conference on AIDS to protest CDC 2019-09-18 - Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) surely saw it coming. Protests are part ...


Gay News

VIEWS Visibility isn't the goal 2019-09-18 - In mid-July, I interviewed non-binary rapper CJ Run. In discussing the coming out of gay country rapper Lil Nas X, Run articulated something ...


Gay News

REELING 2019 The reviews are in 2019-09-17 - Reeling 2019: The 37th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival will take place Sept. 19-29 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema and Music Box Theatre. ...


Gay News

VIEWS A straight man's foray into an LGBTQ world 2019-09-04 - My first assignment for Windy City Times looked something like this: I hopped in my car and drove from my white, middle-class, cookie-cutter ...


Gay News

Remembering Michael Bauer, a call to pick up the baton 2019-09-03 - Remarks as prepared for delivery at the memorial service for community leader Mike Bauer, Sept. 3, 2019. I'm here to speak for ...


Gay News

Kinley Preston previews Lips Chicago dinner theater 2019-08-21 - Lips, billed as "the ultimate in drag dining," is locating its fifth location in Chicago. The South Loop venue, opening to the public ...


Gay News

We need to talk about the 'Pose' hospital episode right now 2019-08-07 - The TV show Pose, on FX, is nothing less than astounding to me. So much could have gone wrong, with the era, the ...


 



Copyright © 2019 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

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

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.