JUDY AND DENNIS SHEPARD
The couple have devoted their lives to helping young LGBT+ people since their son Matthew’s murder 20 years ago. They are our Inspiration Award winners
Two decades on from the senseless slaughter of Matthew Shepard, his parents, Judy and Dennis, continue to support LGBT+ youngsters
On 7 October 1998, 21- yearold Matthew Shepard was found tied to a fence post, almost crucifixion- style, in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming. Bleeding, half- frozen and shoeless, the American college student had been left to die after being beaten, tortured and repeatedly whipped around his head with a gun wielded by two men he met in a local bar then hitched a ride with. Five days later, Matthew succumbed to his terrible injuries in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The shocking killing is widely regarded as one of the most horrific anti- gay hate crimes in US history, with blond- haired, blue- eyed Matthew becoming the human symbol for acts of violence against the LGBT+ community.
Twenty years on, Attitude is honouring his parents, Judy and Dennis, and the legacy that they have carved out in their son’s name, with our Inspiration Award.
The award marks their campaigning work with The Matthew Shepard Foundation which provides a voice and support for LGBT+ youth, and teaches parents with children who are questioning their sexuality to love and accept their offspring.
Over the course of a conversation, which is, by turns, frank, upsetting and inspiring, the couple assure me that, while the retelling of the story will never get any easier, it needs to be shared again and again to ensure history
TERRIBLE LOSS: Matthew with his parents Judy and DennisWords Thomas Stichbury