Last week marked the 13th anniversary of the brutal attack on 21-year-old Matthew Shepard. He was beaten, robbed and pistol-whipped by two men, who then tied him to a fence and left him for dead. As if this pathetic display of humanity’s moral compass wasn’t enough, a preacher from Topeka, Kansas brought his message of hate to Shepard’s funeral. The narrow-minded flock of Bible thumpers were protesting the funeral, carrying signs with phrases such as “No Tears for Queers” and “Fag Matt in Hell”.
This is the kind of ignorance and intolerance that makes the world a dangerous and scary place for homosexuals. The idea that someone would commit a crime so violent and discriminatory makes me sick. But to have a church, a place supposedly to give sanctuary and comfort to those in need, completely disrespect the loss of Shepard’s young life…that’s a whole new level of immoral. It was a funeral; a time for people to pay their respects and remember the lost life of a loved one. There is absolutely no justified excuse for it.
Last week brought back memories and issues that have long-since haunted the minds of all minorities across the country. Even though we live in the land of the free, some people choose not to see it that way. Whether it comes in the form of racists, sexists or narrow-minded Christians, there are some people in our society who feel they are superior or worth more than others.
Fortunately, in October 2009, President Barak Obama passed the Matthew Shepard Act. The law expands on the U.S. federal hate crime law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
Hate crimes and bullying towards minorities are not uncommon. Anniversaries, such as Matthew Shepard’s, remind us there are still people in the world who choose to fill their hearts and minds with hate, rather than love and tolerance. As we remember the lives of those lost due to the hatred of others, focus on what us, as the future generation, can do to make the world a better place for all with love, peace and equality.