This column was originally written and published on October 12, 2011.  I will re-publish it every year on October 12

Twenty three years ago today, Matthew Shepard died because he was gay.  Matthew was taken from this world by Aaron McKinney and Russel Henderson who had offered to give him a ride home from Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming.  But they didn’t take Matthew home.  Aaron and Russel drove to remote rural area where they tied Matthew to a fence, pistol whipped him; tortured him; tormented him for God knows how long.  When they were done expressing their hate for who he was, they left him there to die.

He was found in a coma the next day.  Matthew Shepard died from severe head trauma, 6 days late on October 12, 1998.  Mckinney and Henderson were both found guilty of first degree murder.  Matthew Shepard’s family did not want anyone else to die from this tragic story so THEY convinced the presiding judge to sentence the two murderers to life in prison.

During Matthew’s funeral, Fred Phelps and his band of haters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up with signs that read: “NO TEARS FOR QUEERS,” and “Fag Matt in Hell.”

Matthew’s family founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation which “seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance.”


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

I can’t forget hard as I try
This silhouette against the sky

Scarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Angels will hold carry your soul away

This was our brother
This was our son
This shepherd young and mild
This unassuming one
We all gasp this can’t happen here
We’re all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hide

But they are knocking on our front door
They’re rocking in our cradles
They’re preaching in our churches
And eating at our tables

I search my soul
My heart and in my mind
To try and find forgiveness
This is someone child
With pain unreconciled
Filled up with father’s hate
Mother’s neglect
I can forgive But I will not forget

Scarecrow crying
Waiting to die wondering why
Scarecrow trying
Rising above all in the name of love