matthew shepard foundation
Sen. Mike Enzi: A Guy Who Wears A Tutu To A Bar 'Kind Of Asks For It' [TW: Homophobia, Anti-Gay Bigotry]
The Wyoming senator was speaking to a group of high school and middle school students.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) told a group of high school and middle school students last week that it’s fine to be a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer community ― but if you’re too open about it, don’t be surprised if you get picked on.

On Thursday, Enzi was speaking to students at Greybull High School and Middle School when a student asked him what he was doing to support LGBTQ communities in Wyoming.

Mathew Burciaga, an editor at the Greybull Standard, was at the event. He said he has audio of the exchange, which the paper plans to release Wednesday.

At the event, Enzi offered an anecdote about a man who wears a tutu to a bar and is then surprised that he keeps getting in fights.

“Well, he kind of asks for it,” Enzi said, according to Burciaga.

“The Senator then went on to state that the situations like this can’t always be solved by law and that he’d be open to hearing suggestions from students regarding ways to address it. He ended his remarks by saying civility is the biggest thing we need,” Burciaga told HuffPost in an email, noting that he thought the comment was “tone deaf by my own personal opinion of it.”

According to Burciaga, Enzi prefaced his comment by saying, “We always say in Wyoming you can be anything you want to be as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face.”

Max D’Onofrio, a spokesman for Enzi, said the senator stressed the importance of respecting other people and argued that protections mandated by Washington are not always the best solution.

“He talked about how many Wyoming folks take a live and let live approach to life, but we need to be conscious that everyone may not react the same way to differing value and belief systems. He advocates nothing but respect and civil treatment for members of the LGBT community,” D’Onofrio said in an email. He added that “no one should take his remarks out of context or misconstrue them to mean anything but advocacy of kindness toward our fellow citizens.”

Here’s the full statement from Enzi:

I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. Wyoming’s population is made so great by its mixture – and tolerance – of differing value and belief systems. Our live and let live approach is one of the great aspects of our state. It is important that our students learn that the importance of respecting all people and how it is incumbent on those in the communities we live in to treat others as you would want to be treated. It is such a simple lesson ― it is never permissible to hurt another. Hatred in any form is destructive to the very foundation upon which our society is built.

In 1998, Laramie, Wyoming, became the site of one of the nation’s most horrific and infamous anti-gay hate crimes when college student Matthew Shepard, 21, was tortured and left to die. Outcry over his death eventually led to passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which extended federal hate crime protections to people targeted because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability.

  • “Sen. Enzi’s comments are exactly the kind of hateful remarks we are working against in Wyoming and beyond,” the Matthew Shepard Foundation said in a statement to HuffPost. “To tell a person that they are ‘asking for it’ is the same kind of harmful rhetoric people use to disqualify the claims of sexual assault victims. It’s the same kind of rhetoric that keeps up to 61% of hate crime victims from reporting because they are afraid of not being believed while also having to be fearful of being re-victimized by those in power, who should be defending their rights. The Matthew Shepard Foundation will continue to fight against this kind of hate speech as long as it continues.”

Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming, U.S.A., on  October  6th 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died six days later at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries

Two men were arrested shortly after the attack. During the trial of one of his killers, it was widely reported that Shepard was targeted because he was gay; a Laramie police officer testified at a pretrial hearing that the violence against Shepard was triggered by how the attacker “[felt] about gays”, per an interview of the attacker’s girlfriend.

Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (commonly the “Matthew Shepard Act” or “Shepard/Byrd Act” for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law. Following her son’s murder, Matthew’s mother Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Shepard’s death inspired notable films, novels, plays, songs, and other works.

anonymous asked:

"A for ally" was there not just to provide cover for questioning youth, but because straight people who lost loved ones to HIV and violence stepped up and founded lobbying groups (Matthew Shepard Foundation), safe spaces (Pulse, Orlando), and allowed for their grief to be used as potent symbols of protest (David Kirby's family). Many more raised funds, worked the hospices, performed funerals, were defrocked for performing weddings, wrote the laws, went to jail, and litigated on our behalf.

Those are some good allies who deserve recognition - but I don’t think the people who are saying “A is for ace, aro and agender” are saying “and therefore A can’t be for allies” - it’s the people going around saying “A is for allies” who are saying that it can’t be for ace, aro and/or agender people as well.

EDIT I misunderstood this anon - clarification here.


We will never forget.

Matthew Shepard
December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998

Creating Matt's Legacy
External image

Judy Shepard

Co-Founder, Matthew Shepard Foundation

Posted: 10/12/11 08:39 AM ET

October is very hard for me.

It’s not that the early autumn in Wyoming isn’t beautiful. If you haven’t experienced the crisp air as the nights come earlier each day, or the last few cricket chirps of the season that follow the brilliant orange sunsets, you can’t really know the peaceful, quiet contemplation this time of year brings those few of us fortunate to make our homes here.

But it’s those cues, these turns of the calendar pages, that remind me of the tragedy that autumn brought us 13 years ago, and start us reflecting on what our family, and our society, have learned from it.

Thirteen years ago this week his father, brother and I were at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., with our firstborn son, Matthew Shepard. He was 21, and dying. Just days before, he had been just like millions of American college students whose names are not known to the world – getting the hang of his new classes, adapting to a new campus, making friends. His father and I thought his biggest challenges were keeping money in his checking account and getting his homework in on time.

But here he was in intensive care, the victim of a terrible, senseless attack at the hands of two other young men who, at some point in their lives, learned it was OK to hate others for being different, to victimize them, to disregard their humanity.

Matt passed away quietly in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 1998, with his family at his bedside. He died because of violence fueled by anti-gay hatred. For a lot of reasons, some of which we will probably never quite understand, the world had been watching, praying for him, and voicing their outrage.

October cannot go by anymore, and never will again, without us wondering what might have been, for us and for so many other families, if hatred of gay, and lesbian, and bisexual, and transgendered people, and all those whom others simply think might be, had been rooted out long ago.

In the painful months that followed Matt’s death, we came to understand a lot of things we never knew before: about hate crimes, and how shockingly many there were every year; how they are characterized by obvious signs, like excessive violence, and the denial that surrounds them; and how hard they were to prove, and prosecute, and appropriately punish, with sensitivity to the victim’s loved ones and the wider community.

We learned about the LGBT community and its long struggle for acceptance and equality. We learned how easily LGBT people could be fired from their jobs just for being themselves, how they couldn’t serve their country openly, couldn’t marry, couldn’t adopt kids in some states. And most of all, we learned about the fear so many otherwise good people had in their hearts about their gay neighbors, coworkers and family members.

We set about creating a legacy for Matt. He had always been interested in politics, human rights and LGBT equality – he had in fact been at a Coming Out Week meeting at the University of Wyoming on his last night. With the support and sympathy of the thousands who wrote us and the millions who were touched by his death, we decided to try to make a difference in his name.

Thirteen years later, the Matthew Shepard Foundation stands up for the LGBT community and its straight allies, in Matt’s memory. We are a modest organization, but we do our part and persuade others to do theirs, as well. We pushed – for a long, long time – for federal hate crime legislation that includes LGBT people. That finally happened in another chilly October two years ago – one more step forward. We go to schools and companies and community groups to implore everyone there to embrace diversity. We try to give young people hope, despite their parents’ or peers’ rejection of them, that they have a bright future. We keep Matt’s story alive and look to turn bystanders into activists.

It’s been such a long, sometimes tiring journey, but a rewarding one, as well. The coming out stories that young people tell me, slowly, almost imperceptibly, got better. More and more, the story ends not with a young person being turned out of the house, but affirmed, and accepted, lovingly. Every time I speak at a college somewhere in America, I am hoping I will hear another one like that.

Marriage equality is coming slowly, state by state, and military service has finally been opened to all, regardless of sexual orientation. This is progress. But we have a lot of work left to do, in employment discrimination, in family law and, most of all, in people’s individual lives.

We all have a role to play. We all have our story to tell. When we all finally stand up and demand equality, the scourge of hatred will wither and disappear. And maybe we can all have our Octobers back to enjoy for what they’re meant to be – a season to see, celebrate, change.

To see a timeline of events, click here.

Last night I got to meet the amazing Judy Shepard!! I am so honored that I got to meet this amazing woman!! I am sad that I did not get to hear her speak but glad that my fellow peers and professors of my school did get to hear her speak and I hope that she got through to people the issues that are going on right now in our society and the discrimination that is going on right now with people who are LGBT.


Second annual televised gay Pride event will also feature Bleachers, Sir Ian McKellen, Raven Symoné and Tituss Burgess

Logo TV will recognize the parents of slain gay teenager Matthew Shepard during its second annual “Trailblazer Honors” event, celebrating LGBT leaders during Pride month.

Judy and Dennis Shepard, who founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation after their son’s brutal murder in 1998 sparked national outrage, will receive a special Trailblazers award for raising awareness of anti-violence legislation and advocacy programs. Their accomplishments include the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed by President Obama in 2009.

The televised show’s presenters will include Kelly Osbourne, “Orange is the New Black” stars Samira Wiley and Lea DeLaria, Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”), Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Frankie Grande (“America’s Best Dance Crew,” “Big Brother”), Raven Symoné (“The View”) and Ellen DeGeneres‘ mother Betty.