For many, the ultimate face of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth is Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old college student beaten and left tied up to die alone. He was found 18 hours later, tied to a fence, unconscious. He never came out of the coma. On October 12, 1998, he lost his life. I remember when I first heard of this crime, so devastating in it's very nature, I cried. I could easily see myself in this story, a college kid looking for friends in a new environment that went horribly wrong. Matthew, of course, was much more than just the victim of a horrible and senseless crime. This is what his mother, Judy Shepard, said about him in an interview.
Perhaps that will remind people that there is more than one victim for all crime. There are parents, families, and friends who have to live with the memory, both of the child and the facts surrounding the crime. Along with the sweet angelic face of Matthew you see above, another face to the crime can be seen below, with Judy and Dennis Shepard.
But those are also the faces of hope, the faces who started The Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Foundation "seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance” through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story." For more on the Foundation, check out their website here.