Sunday, October 11, 2009

“Baby boy, I’m so sorry this happened to you”

They had spotted him in the bar alone, he was a diminutive figure apparently appearing feminine as Matthew Shepard was only 5’2” and just over 100 lbs (1.575 m. & 46.266 kg). His killers discussed their mark, plotted together; then they approached Matthew befriending him. It was reported they led Matthew to believe they shared his views on the gay movement while alluding to Matthew they were also gay.

Showers of your crimson blood Seep into a nation calling up a flood Of narrow minds who legislate Thinly veiled intolerance Bigotry and hate But they tortured and burned you They beat you and they tied you They left you cold and breathing For love they crucified you Scarecrow crying Waiting to die wondering why Scarecrow trying Angels will hold carry your soul awayScarecrow by Melissa Etheridge

Melissa, in her song Scarecrow, which is dedicated to Matthew tries to convey the incident and her disgust of the hate in this country towards the GLBT community. Most of us understand the concept of hate and what it can do to you. Whether you have faced it like AJCon89 did when he was attacked last year; like Joshua did when he came out in his little town in New Zealand or just feared that somehow you would be confronted by it, like so many others of you have from some corner in your life, well today maybe the tide turns a little.

With a large march today in Washington supporting the HRC Initiatives and the passage of the Matthew Sheppard Act by our US Congress, things maybe looking up a bit. But today I ask you to remember Matthew Shepard who was severely beaten and died on October 12, 1998, after a brutal attack which was in part justified by Matthews' killers because Matthew was gay.

The only white skin I saw (on his face) was where he had been crying.” Patrol Officer Reggie Fluty described in her report, she continued that when she found Matthew's body, his hands were bound behind his back so tightly to a buck fence that it was difficult to cut him free. She tried to cut the ropes from Matthew's hands and when she bent him over he stopped breathing so she turned him back over. “His hands were tied tight and I wanted to free him” she also noticed that he wore braces on his teeth and though his face was caked in blood, his face was clean where streaks of tears had washed the blood away. Fluty testified during the trial of Matthew's killer, that in trying to comfort Matthew while waiting for the ambulance she told him “Baby boy, I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

Tomorrow marks the eleventh year since Matthew left us. Just this last week the US Congress passed Matthew Sheppard Act which would broaden the definition of a hate crime to include those committed because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability to our existing laws. Matthew’s attack and the lack of protection afforded us, in part, spurred the passage of this amendment to the law. Now it’s up to President Obama to sign it into law. Obama has come up short on many issues he campaigned on and this is his first big test where he can make a difference. Sure many may point to New Zealand’s new American ambassador who is gay as an example of Obama's support but to date its been more talk than action.

I can't imagine what occurred or what Matthew was feeling during the ride and beatings, but at some point while sitting between the by two individuals who knew Matthew was gay the robbery began and then it turned to deadly. Soon after getting into the car with his killers they informed him " We’re not gay and you’re getting jacked,’ " they began striking Matthew over the head with a .357-Magnum pistol. After stopping in a deserted field Matthew's killers made him get out of the truck. He was tied to a fence post and left to die. His killers got $20.00 and a pair of shoes in the robbery. Eighteen hours later Matthew's beaten and bloody body was discovered but it was too late.

Two people who felt so little for the life of another that in their defense of his actions, one tried to explain his hatred of gays and why he was justified in taking Matthew’s life; he claimed simply that he had negative experiences with gay people including being raped as a child by someone, so when he learned that Matthew was gay and coupled with he claimed that during their ride Matthew made advances on him which caused him to strike out against Matthew, so you can see that was simply Matthew’s crime and what justified his killing. Matthew's skull was so badly crushed that his brain stem was seriously damaged, meaning that vital functions including his heartbeat, breathing and temperature control were critically impaired, and doctors were unable to operate.

Matthew's parent have created the Matthew Shepard Foundation and Ms. Sheppard travels the country speaking out against the kind of hate which killed her son. It's worth a look to learn more about Matthew and his life. Matthew died for $20.00 so please be careful out there my friends; know who you get into cars with and don't go any where with folks you do not know.

Thanks for reading and I hope all is well with my readers, followers and commentators

Take care and be safe my friends and remember its getting better but its not a safe yet.



  1. That's a truly terrible scar in history. It's about fucking time that the definition of hate crimes was expanded. Reading the opposition to that legislation was both laughable and infuriating.

  2. Thank you for that moving tribute. You really have a way with words, and you have put emotions into the incident in a way that I have rarely seen.

  3. Nicely written Bob, lets hope Obama keeps his word and signs this legislation. As well as speaking out against hate crimes, Matthew's mother Judy has written an amazing book, "the meaning of Matthew" about his life, the loss of her son, and her transformation into a gay rights activist. It's definitely worth checking out.

  4. A very touching post - brought a tear to my eyes.It's hard to imagine so much hatred and so little concern for human life exists.A beautiful tribute, extremely well written -thank you Bob.
    Kindest regards Stef.

  5. As far as I know, Obama's signed the law, at least that's what he said in his latest address to the Gay Rights Group.

    My heart breaks for Matthew's family so much so that it makes me feel helpless. We need to be careful when reporting news like this, because we want people to also feel hopeful. What we need to learn from his death is not sympathy and pity, but that his death means a ripple to the change that has been happening today.

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog, Bob. I really appreciate it!



  6. Great post. I had been drafting a post of my own for a day or two covering the same ground, but you said it all so beautifully that I simply put up a few thoughts of my own, but mostly linked people back here. As always, great work! Thank you.

  7. thank you Bob. this and Sethboyardee's post have really opened my eyes.

    best wishes

  8. yes, I had no idea what "really" happened and this just gave me further resolve to stop the bullshit gay bashing and fight for rights.


  9. the law has not been signed yet. But it soon will be if all goes as planned.

  10. Evan after all these years, the story you've told is as real and alive for me as if it happened yesterday. This event brings out a whole array of emotion, from sadness to anger. Thanks for the post

  11. Thank you Bob. Another incredibly moving post, thank you for taking the time to put the details out there. It always brings tears to my eyes, as I've mentioned, and a sick feeling in my stomach. One day, I hope I never have to feel that way anymore, and we will all be safe and secure and free to be ourselves.


  12. Thank you, this is a really well-written post, even though the topic is saddening. It made me tear up.