Matthew Shepard Hub




National Cathedral Dean: Homophobia is a Sin

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 4.23.51 PMAs part of a weekend honoring LGBT young people at the Washington National Cathedral, Rev. Gary Hall (pictured right) spoke out against homophobia and heterosexism, denouncing both as 'sin.' The Huffington Post reports:

"We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin," said Dean Hall. He continued, "Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are."

He criticized the role that some churches have in advancing oppression of LGBT youth, saying, "It's more than tragic - in fact it's shameful - that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting out children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence."

Hall's sermon marked the 15th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard and the third anniversary of the suicide of Tyler Clementi. Both Judy Shepard and Jane Clementi were at the Sunday service to honor their sons' lives. 

Back in January, Rev. Hall announced the prominent Episcopal cathedral would begin celebrating same-sex marriages.

(photo via National Cathedral


Brendon Ayanbadejo Pens Open Letter to Ole Miss on LGBT Inclusivity Following Heckling Incident

Brendon AyanbadejoIn an open letter posted on Fox Sports today, Brendon Ayanbadejo offered to help the University of Mississippi's educational outreach on LGBT inclusivity following reports earlier this week of a mass heckling of a student production of 'The Laramie Project,' the Moises Kaufman play about the Matthew Shepard murder. Approximately 20 Ole Miss football players were involved in the heckling incident, with reports of some calling cast members 'fags.'

Says Ayanbadejo, in part:

The alleged behavior of Ole Miss football players along with freshmen from other sports and students attending the play to fulfill some underclassmen requirements is abhorrent and unacceptable.

I blame the administration as much as I blame the athletes. This is a graphic play and a graphic production. People need to have an idea of what they are getting themselves into.

In no way do I condone this behavior but you need to have a conversation with these athletes when they set foot on any campus as to what is expected from them as representatives of the university.

This is why the work of Athlete Ally and groups like the Gay Straight Alliance, which serves as a bridge for gay and straight students in high school to form an alliance of inclusivity and nondiscriminatory behavior is so important.

Unfortunately everyone was not raised with the morality and values to treat all people equally.

A representative of the Ole Miss athletes allegedly apologized - after being prompted by a member of the school's academic staff - but many didn't quite understand what they were apologizing for. [...]

So before Ole Miss is quick to hand down punishment I would like to see them take a more holistic and proactive approach in educating students and student athletes alike. All you have to do is reach out and I will be happy to discuss how I can help you take the next step."

You can read the full letter HERE

(photo via Instagram)


20 Ole Miss Football Players Heckle 'Laramie Project' Production, Call Students 'Fags'

Approximately 20 Ole Miss football players were involved in a mass heckling incident at a University of Mississippi production of The Laramie Project, the Moises Kaufman play about the Matthew Shepard murder.

The Daily Mississippian reports: Olemiss

According to the play's director and theater faculty member Rory Ledbetter, some audience members used derogatory slurs like "fag" and heckled both cast members and the characters they were portraying for their body types and sexual orientations. Ledbetter said the audience's reactions included "borderline hate speech."

The football players were at the play because of a theater course requirement.

Said Ledbetter:

"The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night. But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn't know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things."

Junior theater major Garrison Gibbons said the incident offered a real-life example of the play's subject matter: “I am the only gay person on the cast. I played a gay character in the show, and to be ridiculed like that was something that really made me realize that some people at Ole Miss and in Mississippi still can’t accept me for who I am.”


Matthew Shepard Foundation Slams New Book Disputing Role Of Anti-Gay Hate In Shepard's Murder

6a00d8341c730253ef0154361338c4970c-250wiThe Matthew Shepard Foundation has denounced a re-telling of the murder of Matthew Shepard put forth by Stephen Jimenez in his new book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard. As previously reported, Jimenez, who is gay, argues that it was not anti-gay prejudice that motivated Aaron McKinney to murder Shepard but rather a "drug-fueled rage that had nothing to do with [Matthew's] sexuality." According to Jimenez, "McKinney had been a male hustler, had been familiar with gay guys and gay bars...He really did like having sex with gay guys and...he was not unfamiliar with homosexuality and the gay world." Jimenez also asserts that gay rights advocates were responsible for perpetuating a false narrative that focused on anti-gay hate to help push through hate crime legislation nationally. The New York Daily News reports:

"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," the foundation said in a release [...]

As the book's release date approaches, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which was founded 15 years ago, issued a statement that reaffirms Shepard was "killed in a brutal, anti-gay hate crime.

"We do not respond to innuendo, rumor or conspiracy theories. Instead we remain committed to honoring Matthew's memory, and refuse to be intimidated by those who seek to tarnish it," the statement reads.

This is not the first time someone attempted to change the accepted narrative of Shepard's murder. Back in 2004, ABC's "20/20" ran a controversial report in which McKinney said it was a meth-fueled robbery that ended violently — not a hate crime.

McKinney said he targeted the 21-year-old University of Wyoming freshman because he was well-dressed and assumed he would have a lot of money.

Many gay-rights activists and scholars criticized the "20/20" report arguing it ignored the evidence that anti-gay hatred fueled the brutal Oct. 7, 1998, murder in which Shepard was tied to a fence, tortured and left for dead.


Author: Matthew Shepard's Killer Was His Bisexual Lover And Fellow Drug Dealer - VIDEO

Stephen

In a new book by Stephen Jimenez entitled, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, Jimenez puts forward a different telling of the events and motivations surrounding Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998. Jimenez recently sat down with Andrew Sullivan and The Dish to discuss the book.

Jimenez reveals that he first became interested in Matthew's story as he was researching a screenplay he was writing on Matthew's murder. However, upon settling into Laramie and starting to dig into the details of the murder, Jimenez quickly began to suspect that there was more to the story than what was being played out in the press and in the courtroom.

Early on, he claims he found proof that "Aaron McKinney had been a male hustler, had been familiar with gay guys and gay bars" and "that he really did like having sex with gay guys and that he was not unfamiliar with homosexuality and the gay world," which in Jimenez's mind at least seemed to contradict the "gay panic" defense that McKinney's lawyers were putting forth. What began as a trip to "fill in some color and detail" for a screenplay turned into a "13-year investigative obsession," according to Kirkus reviews:

The tragedy was “enshrined…as passion play and folktale, but hardly ever for the truth of what it was”: the story of a troubled young man who had died because he had been involved with Laramie’s drug underworld rather than because he was gay.

Check out the full interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Author: Matthew Shepard's Killer Was His Bisexual Lover And Fellow Drug Dealer - VIDEO" »


Iowa High School Principal Bans 'The Laramie Project', Says It's 'Too Adult'

Superintendent

A high school principal and superintendent in Ottumwa, Iowa are denying the students the right to perform The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman's play about the hate crime murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard.

ShepardWatch The Heartland's Connection report on the controversy, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Ottumwa Courier reports:

"None of us can understand why they are shying away from it," said Jordan Young, 16, a student who is secretary of the OHS drama club. "The principal [of OHS] wants to get away from bullying, and he has initiatives he really [pushes]. So to hit so hard on a show that addresses bullying, it makes no sense."

She said other students she's met with feel similarly. "We were all confused more than anything," she said. "We didn't understand what was wrong with it. The planning started in October of last year. We have auditions in a month and a half!" She said students believe the problem lies in the subject of the play.

The Heartland Connection adds:

OHS Principal Mark Hanson denied the play from being performed through the school’s drama department. We reached out to Principal Hanson but he did not want to go on camera but he said “the play is too adult for a high school production but it does preach a great message.”

Ottumwa Community School’s Superintendent Davis Eidahl (pictured, top) says he fully supports Principal Hanson’s decision. “We really want the focus of our Ottumwa High School productions to be for the entire family,” said Eidahl.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation released a statement, which reads, in part:

This is not a play about being gay, or promoting anyone being gay; it’s about being targeted, hurt, murdered for being different, or perceived to be different, whatever that difference may be – and how this affects the community.

It is regrettable that the administration decided not to take the lead to provide their students and their community such an important learning opportunity, and instead is focused on a desire to show off their auditorium in what they feel is a “family-friendly” manner. We respectfully suggest that the main mission of a school district is to educate, not to entertain.

Watch The Heartland's Connection report on the controversy, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Iowa High School Principal Bans 'The Laramie Project', Says It's 'Too Adult'" »


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