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Rememberence: Matthew Shepard 13 Years Later

13 years this morning Aaron Kreifels was riding his bike through a field not far from Larmamie, Wyoming when in the distance he spotted what he thought was a scarecrow tied to fence overlooking a lonely ridge.  As Aaron moved closer horror overtook him when he realized that the scarecrow was not a scarecrow at all but the body of a man, a boy really who had been brutally beaten, and tied to the fence crucifiction style and left to die.

That boy was Matthew Shepard.

The night before on October 6, 1998, Matthew met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the first time at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming..  Matthew was a friendly boy and the three struck up a conversation.  McKinney and Henderson offered Matthew a ride home. But McKinney and Henderson had other ideas.  Realizing that Matthew was gay the hatched a plan to play along that they were gay also and after Matthew got in the car they instead drove to desolate remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture him mercilessly and left him to die.

Matthew never regained consciousness after being found. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate and  remained on full life support. While he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie and in cities and towns around the world.

Matthew Shepard was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998.

Both Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were captured and stood trial where both recieved two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole  Avoiding the death penalty only because of the kindness of Matthew Shepherds mother and father.

Matthews murder has set the pattern by which all LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims are remembered and millions of people around the world came to know about other hate crimes murder victims through the lens of Matthew’s story.

Remember Matthew, remember all the victims of LGBT violence and FIGHT HATE.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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