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Matthew Shepard's Parents Head To Russia To Fight Anti-LGBT Intolerance: VIDEO

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The parents of Matthew Shepard are heading to hostile territory in hopes of bringing a message of tolerance to Russia. Tomorrow, Dennis and Judy depart for St. Petersburg to attend the screening of a movie about their slain son and then move on to Moscow, where they hope to meet with parents of LGBT youth. In a country where gays are consistently harassed for spreading so-called "propaganda", the Shepards hope to bring a message of tolerance on their five-day trip. But given how entrenched anti-LGBT attitudes have become under the rule of Vladimir Putin, they know it won't be easy.

“Putin has made it so unhealthy to be LGBT or an ally,” Dennis Shepard told the AP in an interview about their trip. “It will take at least a generation to clean up the mess he’s made and get some acceptance.”

Their first stop will be a screening of Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine at the Side by Side Film Festival in St. Petersburg, an annual event since 2008 which has been promoting LGBT tolerance while drawing criticism from government officials there. But filmmaker Michele Josue, who was a close friend of Matthew's in high school, feels strongly about screening her film in a hostile environment. 

"We've been preaching to the choir," she said of previous screenings in the U.S. "It's important to get our film seen by a community that didn't have access to it."

The film, which has been on the festival circuit this year, makes its NYC premiere tonight at the Doc NYC Festival. You can watch the moving trailer AFTER THE JUMP...

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Judy Shepard And Hundreds Of Activists Set To Attend LGBT Rights Conference In Mexico City Next Week

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) is set to hold it's 27th world conference in Mexico City next week. 

LOGO-WEB-298x300According to an article in the Washington Blade, Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard, will be speaking to members of the group, which is an umbrella organization of more than 1,000 local and national groups devoted to advancing LGBT rights worldwide and monitoring laws that protect or persecute LGBT people. The group is also known for its maps of the world which highlight LGBT rights in different regions, like Europe.

“Dennis and I are excited to be able to meet so many amazing activists from ILGA next week,” Judy Shepard told the Blade. “We’re very much looking forward to learning from the other participants.” 

ILGA expects more than 400 activists from over a dozen countries to be there for five days of panels, meetings and discussions. The conference runs from October 27th through the 31st, with other U.S. attendees including Ty Cobb of the Human Rights Campaign and Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First. The location of the event is notable as Mexico is currently experiencing some growing pains over LGBT rights, with massive protests against marriage equality after it was voted in for the Coahuila province earlier this year.


66 Gay Clips from '90s Nightly News: WATCH

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How many of these stories do you remember?

Dave Evans, who made the gay supercuts of the '70s and '80s news clips, has released the latest in his series.

This video shows clips on an early anti-gay Scouting lawsuit, protests in California over Governor Pete Wilson's veto of a gay-rights bill, Clinton becoming president and the protests over gays in the military, the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and the Matthew Shepard hatecrime and aftermath. 

Watch the powerful video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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NBA to Donate Proceeds from Jason Collins Jerseys to LGBT Groups

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The NBA will donate proceeds from sales of Jason Collins jerseys to LGBT causes, specifically GLSEN and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the Guardian reports:

The league said on Friday that donations would total no less than $100,000, and it will also auction off Collins’s autographed, game-worn jerseys to benefit the same organisations.

Collins says he is thrilled to help the organisations that “work tirelessly to ensure LGBT youth get the resources and assistance they need to be successful in life”.


Jason Collins, Who Wears '98' in Tribute to Matthew Shepard, Met His Parents Last Night: PHOTO

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Brooklyn Nets player Jason Collins, who wears '98' as a tribute to Matthew Shepard who was brutally murdered that year, met Shepard's parents and brother Logan for the first time last night after they drove four hours from their home in Casper, Wyoming to see him in Denver. He presented them with a jersey.

Said Collins before the meeting:

“I was in college at the time when [Matthew] was killed. Of course it’s a tragedy what happened and I just hope it inspires others to come forward. It’s definitely going to be special meeting them after the game (Thursday) and I’m looking forward to it."

Collins' jersey has been selling in record numbers since it went on the NBA's website earlier this week.

The NY Daily News adds:

Asked if he thought the popularity of the jersey could be seen as a symbol of support for those uncomfortable about revealing their sexuality, Collins said, “That’s something for you guys to speculate on. But I’m always encouraging others to live their life and speak up and come forward if you want to, and know that if you do there’s a lot of people waiting to support you.”

Tweeted Collins, with the above photo: "I'm so fortunate to have met Matthew Shepard's parents and brother tonight after @BrooklynNets win tonight in Denver"

An interview with Collins, and Shepard, AFTER THE JUMP...

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AFA's Sandy Rios Calls Matthew Shepard's Murder a 'Complete Fraud': VIDEO

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American Family Association radio host Sandy Rios took the podium at the Values Voters Summit over the weekend to toot about how Christian conservatives are being threatened in America, citing a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center and other civil rights groups urging Republicans to stay away from the Summit, Right Wing Watch reports.

She also took the opportunity, on the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder to tell those assembled that it was a "complete fraud", citing claims in a recent book by wingnut Stephen Jimenez that Shepard's death was the result of "a drug deal gone bad".

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Matthew Shepard Foundation has blasted the Jimenez book, saying "Attempts now to rewrite the story of this hate crime appear to be based on untrustworthy sources, factual errors, rumors and innuendo rather than the actual evidence gathered by law enforcement and presented in a court of law."

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