Matthew Shepard Foundation Annual Gala: The 25th Commemorative Year
Honoring Billy Porter, Chasten Buttigieg, and the Be A Friend Project
Denver, CO – The Matthew Shepard Foundation will be hosting their annual fundraising gala on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The 2023 gala, presented by Foundation partners Marriott International, Molson Coors Beverage Company, and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), will raise critical funds for the organization, while honoring Matt’s legacy and commemorating the 25th year of the Foundation’s efforts to erase hate.
“Twenty-five years ago, our son Matt was brutally murdered. We needed our friends to be our ‘friends’ when that happened, and they stepped up in so many ways,” explained Judy Shepard. “What we didn’t know we needed was the unconditional love and support of the queer community and its allies. But they were there for us too and for Matt. They still are. We are looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and new to thank them, while recommitting to our task of changing hearts and minds.”
The gala is the Foundation’s signature event and primary opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations for their leadership and commitment to replacing hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. This year’s event celebrates Making a Difference Award honoree, Billy Porter; Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership honoree, Chasten Buttigieg; and Spirit of Matthew Award honoree, Be A Friend Project.
In addition to the awards presentation, emcee and auctioneer Debbie Scheer will host an evening full of entertainment, including a stunning silent and live auction, 25th commemoration surprises, an after-party, and of course, remarks from Judy and Dennis Shepard.
For tickets or additional event information, visit matthewshepard.org/gala/. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Denay Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For media related questions, contact Dana Juniel at Dana@matthewshepard.org or 720.771.7179.
Awards & Honorees
2023 Making a Difference Award – Billy Porter
The Making a Difference Award recognizes individuals and organizations committed to replacing hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. We honor their unwavering and longstanding leadership in working towards a world free of hate.
Billy Porter is an Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning, and Golden Globe-nominated, actor, singer, director, composer, and playwright, best known for his electric portrayal of ‘Pray Tell’ in the FX’s breakthrough series “Pose.”
2023 Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership – Chasten Buttigieg
The Dennis Dougherty Award is named in memory of a loving, generous and inspiring member of the MSF family. Dennis was a friend, mentor, philanthropist and visionary who was instrumental in giving the Foundation a strong beginning and a vision for the future. This award is given to those who have played an essential role in the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s growth and integrity.
Chasten Buttigieg is a teacher, author, advocate, and the husband of former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Chasten is best known for his books, I Have Something to Tell You and the newly rewritten version for young adults.
2023 Spirit of Matthew Award – Be A Friend Project
The Spirit of Matthew Award recognizes a young person or organization that embodies the spirit of Matt – kind, forward-thinking, and advocating for their peers. These are youth who demonstrate a profound personal commitment to social justice, equal rights, and activism, while showing the same passion to foster a more caring and just world. . . just like Matt.
The Be A Friend Project is a national organization of student ‘Upstanders’ working to save the lives of their bullied peers and build kinder communities using empathy, education, peer support and the arts.