We simply could not have asked for a more moving and historic year of honoring the passage of 20 years since our son Matt’s murder. From conducting a program in my 50th state (Alaska!), to hosting our most well-attended gala to date, to at last ensuring that Matt has a safe and beautiful final resting place at the National Cathedral and his possessions archived by the Smithsonian–wow.
These are prestigious honors afforded to only the most notable Americans. To us, our son was just our Matt. But the meaning of Matthew has taken on a greater purpose. And, of course, this is all thanks to you: our donors, sponsors, and friends of the Foundation. When we incorporated (on Matt’s birthday–December 1, 1998), we had no idea and certainly did not fathom that we’d still be doing this work 20 years later. But when Dennis and I heard the words of encouragement from the LGBTQ+ community, their allies, and other marginalized populations to take advantage of “the moment” we had presented to us in the form of this unspeakable tragedy, we had to act.
Now, two decades later, we have so much to be thankful for. So much has been accomplished in Matt’s name. Not just because of Matt, but also because of you and your support, we have a Federal law in his name — the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Not just because of Matt, but because of brilliant artistic minds like Moises Kaufman, Leslea Newman, Craig Hella Johnson, and Michele Josue, we have ‘The Laramie Project’, October Mourning, ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’, and ‘Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine’. Not just because of our determination, but with your support, we have been able to bring our message all around the country and the world.
Unfortunately, we have seen an unprecedented, multi-year surge in hate crimes against all marginalized communities both here and abroad. We’ve seen these communities continue to be victimized by the few who are trying to gain and hold as much power as possible — at our expense. It’s easy to feel targeted or even invisible when those in power become more and more obvious with their intentions.
Right now, vigilance seems almost moot. What good does it do? There is hope. We’ve seen the good vigilance does. We will continue to help in any capacity we can to move the needle on this work. On behalf of our family and the entire staff and board of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, We thank you for continuing this work with us. We would not be here without you, and for that we cannot say thank you enough.
May 2019 bring us more milestones.
Co-Founder and Board President
Matthew Shepard Foundation