THE ONEPULSE Foundation and the Matthew Shepard Foundation announce a partnership that will include a production next year in Orlando of “The Laramie Project” — the play about Shepard’s death after he was killed for being gay.
United by two tragedies, the OnePulse Foundation is joining the Matthew Shepard Foundation to bring to Orlando a monthlong production of “The Laramie Project” — a play about a gay college student who was beaten, tortured and left to die in a Wyoming field.
“We have a shared mission and a shared sorrow,” said Sara Brady, a spokeswoman for the OnePulse Foundation, the nonprofit formed in the aftermath of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre. “This will be our initial project, but we hope to collaborate on other efforts down the road.”
The project, announced Monday, will include a celebrity fundraiser and reading of the play on June 2, 2018, two weeks before the two-year mark of the shooting.
The partnership’s larger purpose is to fight hate crimes and gun violence against the LGBTQ communities in particular and society in general, Brady said.
“Every day, it becomes even more clear that something has to change,” said Barbara Poma, Pulse’s owner and executive director of the OnePulse Foundation. “The increase in mass shootings, hate crimes — including those targeting the LGBTQ community — and a lack of legislative action [have] put the responsibility on foundations like ours to … work together to help.”
Poma had reached out to Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, in hopes of promoting their shared cause, Brady said.
Judy Shepard and her husband, Dennis, started their foundation following the 1998 death of their 21-year-old son, Matthew, a student at University of Wyoming in Laramie who was brutally attacked, tied to a fence and left for dead. He died of his injuries five days later.
The two groups will detail their partnership at greater length at the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s 20th anniversary kick-off Thursday at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The inn is the site of a series of riots by the gay community in 1969 to protest police raids that routinely took place against gay bars.