Today I would propose that the church, and the world, remember a modern tragedy that is still all too relevant today: St. Matthew Shepherd, Son, Martyr, and Hate Crime Victim.
Matthew was born in Casper, Wyoming, and was known as a friendly kid interested in politics and theater. After moving around with his family, he eventually landed at the University of Wyoming in the town of Laramie as a Poli-Sci major. He was raised Episcopalian, and his father noted that Matthew had a knack for relating to most anyone he met, but especially those who felt like they didn’t belong.
Here is where I would usually write about what happened to Matthew, but in typing out the incident that led to his death I found myself unable to continue because it was so terrible, horrifying, and graphic.
And it made me think of my own two babies. My heart breaks for his parents, his whole family, still.
On October 6th Matthew was offered a ride by two men at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie. He left with them and, instead of going home, they robbed him, beat him, and left him tied to a fence in freezing temperatures. He was found the next day, comatose, and died in the hospital on October 12th.
The two men, and their girlfriends, were brought up on charges of first degree murder and accessory after the fact. Though their testimonies became convoluted, it was noted that they pretended to be gay to lure Matthew, and then killed him motivated by prejudice, homophobia, and hatred.
When I woke up on this morning last year, I woke up to headlines indicating that the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden, resigned due to leaked emails containing misogynistic, homophobic, and racist statements. Statements from years of emails.
Just this last year it came to light that North Carolina’s Lt. Governor, in a SERMON, called homosexual and transgender people “filth.”
He’ll run for governor next cycle.
We remember St. Matthew, martyr, on this day, because the evil that moved in the hearts of people to kill him that night still move today.
It’s literally in the headlines.
And we need to call it out when we see it and hear it.
-icon written by Andrew Freshour