JUDY AND DEN­NIS SHEP­ARD

Attitude - - Front Page -

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

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