I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a story you have heard. Actually, it is millions of stories, touched by one another, and still unfolding 15 years after it began.
A 21-year-old college student in a small Western city sat alone at a bar, unaware that nearby two fellow patrons planned to lure him away and rob him. Fueled by homophobia, his attackers left him beaten and dying, in what would become one of the world’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes.
The student’s parents, grief-stricken and disbelieving, found themselves in the glare of the world media spotlight, balancing the heartbreaking loss of their son with the determination that all who looked on would be inspired to stand up against hatred.
The student’s friends, classmates, neighbors, acquaintances and countless strangers, moved by the tragedy and outraged by the continued exclusion and denigration of the LGBT community, began to tell their stories, too.
In time the tragedy and the coverage receded. It would spark back to life from time to time — anniversaries, sentencings, passage of new laws, memoirs and remembrances.
But as the news story faded, something extraordinary happened.
People still remembered that student and his family, what happened, why they felt it must never happen again. And by the millions, they acted, individually, to see that it didn’t.
Each of us is now a part of the story, and the story goes on. In the wake of tragedy, people often decide to make a change. With the loss of one person’s dreams, the dreams of millions came into sharper focus — and started to come true.
What happens to millions of people all at once is a statistic. What happens to one person, and is heard and taken to heart by millions, is a story. And stories are how we understand the world, and why we are inspired to make it a better place.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation is a story that continues to be told and to push forward, day by day, toward a just and lasting conclusion. We who support it chip away at discrimination, hatred, bullying, and tragedy every day. And the work is getting done, faster all the time because millions of us want to do it.
Today, we humbly ask you to join this story. We are a small group but we are contributing to a massive improvement for the freedom and security of the LGBT community and everyone who cares about them.
We do this work in Matthew Shepard’s name, and in yours, because he is no longer able to do it himself. Because peace is a fitting tribute to a victim of violence. Because equality is the only just response to discrimination.
Because we know that this story has to power to change hearts and minds for the better.
Help us get there. And share that story with those around you. We are making a difference. Join us.
Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution today to the Foundation’s work to Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion and Acceptance . We rely on donations, big and small, from those who believe that we can create a world where hate is on the fringe, and love overflows in the lives of countless people who are part of the story we tell.