14 years ago today

6 Oct

On October 7, 1998, Aaron Kreifels was riding his bike through a field in Wyoming. He wasn’t expecting that day to be different from any other beautiful sunny afternoon in the vast plains surrounding Laramie, but that day would change many lives.

Aaron spotted what he initially thought was a scarecrow next to a fence. Then he noticed a glisten of blood. The sun sparkled on what he barely recognized as a face. What Aaron had discovered was the 22 year-old Matthew Shepard, clinging to life.

Most of you know what happened next. Matthew held on for five more days and as his parents held his hand and prayed, Matthew slipped away quietly on October 12th, leaving in his wake a new movement for equality.

The outcries for justice and for greater protections were immediate and resonating.

Since then, Matthew’s mother Judy has made it her personal mission to protect all young LGBT people from Matthew’s horrific fate. In founding the Matthew Shepard Foundation, she has created safe spaces in and outside of schools for kids, and worked with parents to ensure their children learn to erase hate from their lives.

But overwhelmingly what you saw in 1998 was a community ready to act, ready to change something. And Matthew’s story was the catalyst for that. Many of you have seen or read the Moises Kaufman play, The Laramie Project – Matthew’s story as told through interviews of those who were living in Laramie at the time – some of his friends and some who just happened to be riding a bike through the plains of Wyoming that day. If you think of nothing else today, please consider the importance of telling your story – how your story can change the world around you.

This young boy, unbeknownst to him, has changed the world with his.

62 Responses to “14 years ago today”

  1. Chris October 6, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Thank you. Very powerful reading.

  2. adhdjournal October 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on adhdjournal.

    • 4amphilosopher October 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

      I’d never actually heard of this before but looked into it after reading this, really moving story.

  3. thechangesinmysoul October 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    The outcome to that terrible event is beautiful.

  4. wendy October 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Rest in peace sweet boy….

  5. melissamaree October 8, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Reblogged this on Compassion & Truth and commented:
    The Truth Matters …. Tell Your Stories … They can Change the World

  6. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife October 8, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I remember this… so awful.

  7. creeped October 8, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    It’s so sad that it often takes such horrific crimes as a catalyst for changing ideals and speaking out for equality. There will always be bigots and miscreants, however I do believe we are getting closer to universal acceptance and that day will be soon.

  8. rami ungar the writer October 8, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I have many friends and family who are gay. If something like what happened to Matthew Shepard happened to any of them, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m so thankful that in today’s climate, it’s much safer for gays and that gay rights is finding acceptance more and more among the population. I bet wherever Matthew Shepard is now, he’s happy that change for the better is coming.

  9. randommango21 October 8, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    I wasn’t aware of this, so you’re doing a really noble deed by bringing this to light 🙂

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed
    Check mine too?
    Cheers! 😀

  10. Alex Wheatstone October 8, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    8 months after Matthew’s death, I stayed in Laramie, WY and visited the bar where he met his 2 murderers. I did it to make a connection and to begin to accept who I am. I later came out to my family that year, and I credit part of that to the idea that even though I may encounter hate and bigotry, that there is nothing wrong with me and that I am a deserving human being.

  11. becomingcliche October 8, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Matthew’s story tears my heart. He could be a kid in my life that I love dearly.

  12. free penny press October 8, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Thank you so much for honoring his memory with this post. A beautiful soul so cruelly killed. Awareness is the key to change.
    Well deserving of being FP!!

  13. goodywinks October 8, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I hadn’t heard this until now, that is terrible 😦 One my my friends was beaten to a pulp, twice, two years ago, just because he was gay. It is disgusting how people feel they can do something like that to a person. Luckily, my friend suffered no long term physical damage, but he has only just starte feeling comfortable coming out for a couple of drinks on an evening out, and is still wary of groups of people.

    Really is horrible 😦

  14. zyzxx October 8, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Thank you for writing this.

  15. danajoward October 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Beautifully written. What a way to honor your friend or hero. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. 😉

  16. toddasaur October 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    It’s a powerfully told story

  17. segmation October 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I had not heard of Matthew’s story until your blog. Thank you for sharing this hate crime. Sad these hate crimes still exist don’t you think?

  18. futuretechreview October 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Sadly a person had to die for a good outcome later on.

  19. Blood Hawk October 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Sad that someone has to suffer like that in order to make the general population wake up and look wihtin to realize something is wrong. Even after that, it looks like we are still a long way to go.

  20. Elisa's Spot October 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    National Coming Out Day October 11!

  21. mikeballenger2011 October 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I still believe that tolerance and acceptance. Stories like Aaron’s are hard to wrap your mind around, that someone could be so blinded by hate as to do this kinda thing. We are all in this thing together and I challege everyone to do the right thing.

  22. Recovered Baptist October 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m inspired to write my own coming out story on my blog.

  23. performinghumanity October 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Thank you for a powerful reminder of how sharing stories can educate communities and help to preserve human dignity, discourage violence, and promote social equality. On matters like these, especially now, we need to make our voices heard (and stand up for those like Matthew who no longer can speak for themselves).

  24. edgeledge October 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Many gay people I know are the most giving and caring people I have met, why is it that hatred for something can cause people to do this? Be yourself without fear of anything, do not deny who you are to satisfy others. Good people will accept and embrace, those who don’t are not worthy of your friendship or love anyway!

  25. mirrormon October 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Sad… I am glad you reminded us all to talk about our stories, to bring change….what happens to you doesn’t happen to others… sometimes we hesitate…but you gave me encouragement today…I hope we can all manage this slight token of help, where all we are doing is only sharing our bit…may be getting some weight lifted off as a result too…

  26. Chatter Master October 8, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I can’t believe it’s been 14 years. It still seems so horribly fresh. As I’m sure it is to his family and friends.

  27. Musique's Poetry October 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Remember this tragedy, but however out of it came a fight for rights like never before for us LGBT People

  28. Kevin October 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this post and remembering Matthew. Every few years, my high school peer educators read The Laramie Project — and the discussions are incredible; the emotions overwhelming. I’m very glad that WP decided to FP this post. Be well.

  29. toeachherownblog October 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Beautiful post. We’ve come a long way, but there is still so much work that needs done and change that needs to happen.

  30. kathy October 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Only 22~A mothers son~a beautiful person~your story put chills all over me, my heart is saddened 😦

  31. Hibari October 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Thank you for reminding us about Matthew Shepard. Before I saw a movie on MTV about him, it never occurred to me that people were enduring hate and violence for their sexuality. I started to examine my own thoughts and actions, and I realized how dangerous ignorance can be. I think about all the LGBT hate crimes that occurred before Matthew and after and how their stories haven’t been told, and I realize that Matthew’s story isn’t about one senseless death but countless.

  32. marymtf October 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    So awful. No one should be judged on their sexual orientation or their religion or their colour. We’re supposed to be a global village now.

  33. bellejarblog October 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    I can’t believe this was 14 years ago. I was in a production of the Laramie Project a few years ago, which weirdly makes this story feel so personal. Thank you for writing this.

  34. Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface October 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    I immediately recognized his face and knew his name, although I haven’t seen Matthew Shepard’s photo in so many years…one of the most unforgettable news stories I can recall, it is etched in my mind like the fall of the Berlin Wall, shocking, emotional, a change in our perception of the world.

  35. Cafe October 8, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    This is so, so sad 😦 Also sad is that hate crimes continue to happen today, whether as blatant or less so. Thank you for sharing this story and bringing more awareness to this issue.

  36. exceedingspeed October 8, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Really thoughtful post. Have you read Kaufman’s latest play Laramie Ten Years After? The most intriguing interview is with one of Matthew’s killers. I am not sure huge changes were made in Laramie. Thanks and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  37. The Infinite Journey October 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Thank you for this. It is important never to forget. I remember hearing this story and the support from it. It makes me proud to see so many supporters of equality 🙂

  38. shesbluegrass October 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on shesbluegrass's Blog and commented:
    😦 so sad. Be aware of your actions and words people. Be aware.

  39. Bella October 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Such a horrible tragedy that I’ve never forgotten.

  40. Gay_Mormon_Life October 9, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    I have a question and I hope someone can clarify what I’ve heard. Is it true that one of the guys who met matthew at the bar that night and left him for dead was actually a non-practicing Mormon? And did that person come out of the closest while in prison? Just some of the rumors I’ve heard.

  41. BulletProofx October 9, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    Reblogged this on bulletproofx.

  42. de Frémancourt October 9, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Reblogged this on de Frémancourt.

  43. writingitout87 October 9, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Every time I read about Matthew Shephard or hear something on television, it takes everything in me to not just sit and cry. I vaguely remember hearing about it when it first happened, as I was quite young; but now, having recently come out, I understand the impact that he and his family has had on the community. It is amazing how far we have come in just a short period of time.

  44. hangryhippo October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. It is so important to remember this terrible tragedy and honor this precious life. May we all work as individuals to make our communities and world a more tolerant, peaceful, loving place.

  45. buttonw October 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Beautifully written.

  46. Jenny October 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Many thanks for reminding me of something so beautiful and tragic to hold in my heart.

  47. Tomas Sanchez Sanchez October 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Amazing blog!

  48. transitionstande October 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    As you say it is important to tell your story. Something we bloggers sometimes struggle with. Thanks for the reminder.

  49. groovylove October 10, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Thank you for writing this, I remember when it happened. You can’t help but be humbled when you remember. May our memory of him help to change the world. Definitely worthy of being Freshly Pressed, congrats and Thank You!

  50. bipolarwhenitcounts October 10, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    This was such a tragedy. My heart still goes out to Matthew and his family

  51. bipolarwhenitcounts October 10, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Reblogged this on Bipolar When It Counts and commented:
    This was such a tragedy. My heart still goes out to Matthew and his family.

  52. Emma Chadwick October 11, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    Amazing. So touching.

  53. candycoatedreality October 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Thank you!! AMAZING post. BRILLIANT reminder.

  54. sonofwalt October 15, 2012 at 1:01 am #

    I found this post late, but I wanted to thank you for writing it, and helping us all to remember.

  55. Try this website June 11, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    Can’t believe I had never heard this story before, so so sad.


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