On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard was beaten and tortured because he was gay. Tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere, he was left to die. Though he was found 18 hours later, he did pass away on October 12, 1998. Yesterday was 20 years since Matthew’s death.
I was a 13 year old 8th grader at Olympic View Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington, as these events unfolded in the media. As a confused and closeted young teenager struggling with understanding my own sexuality, events like this shaped my struggle for self and communal acceptance. What if I came out, could this happen to me? Could I be beaten and tortured for who I am? Could I be killed? My reality… Yes to all of it. This has been the reality for so many of us through the years.