Matthew Shepard


The story of Matthew Shepard began on December 1, 1976 when he was born to Judy and Dennis Shepard in Casper, Wyoming. He went to public school in Casper until his junior year of high school when he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia. Matt had to finish his high school education at The American School in Switzerland because there were no American high schools in Saudi Arabia at the time. In both high schools, he was elected by his peers to be a peer counselor. He was easy to talk to, made friends easily and actively fought for the acceptance of all people. Matt had a great passion for equality. His experiences abroad fueled his love for travel and gave him the chance to make many new friends from around the world. Matt’s college career eventually took him back to Wyoming where he studied political science, foreign relations and languages at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The horrific events that took place shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 went against everything that Matt embodied. Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie, Wyoming. He was tied to a split-rail fence where the two men severely assaulted him. He was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later, he was found by a bicyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matt died on October 12 at 12:53 a.m. at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado with his family by his side. His memorial service was attended by friends and family from around the world and garnered immense media attention that brought Matt’s story to the forefront of the fight against bigotry and hate. The life and death of Matthew Shepard changed the way we talk about, and deal with, hate in America. Since his death, Matt’s legacy has challenged and inspired millions of individuals to erase hate in all its forms. Although Matt’s life was short, his story continues to have a great impact on young and old alike. His legacy lives on in thousands of people like you who actively fight to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.


The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998.

Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance" through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.

To support diversity programs in education and to help youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves.

To educate and enlighten others on the importance of diversity, understanding, compassion, acceptance and respect. Everyone must participate in developing solutions to problems that are rooted in ignorance and hatred.

To replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

I was just a kid when this happen but I remember it like it was yesterday. The thing I remember the most is how scared I was for me and how scared Matt must have been. I prayed hard for him to be ok but we all know he wasn't. This for what being different I think that's what scared me the most I was just like Matt would this happen to me. I was already being picked on for being different wearing hearing aids and glasses sometimes being too skinny I know who would think. Wouldn't be until later that I was jumped for being gay. I'm not trying to say I know how Matt felt cause I don't I know how scared he must have felt and how cold he must have felt. How much he wanted to be love and I bet how much he loved his parents. So do this for me and for Matt and all other gay kids out there help Judy give a little let her know how much we thank Matt and miss him. Let her know we will never forget and will help her all we can. Please just give a little 5 bucks every little bit helps. You see the purple wrist bands all you have to do is click on them it will take you to Matthew Shepard Foundation

Say a Prayer today for Matt, Judy and all Gay Kids!

6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    The World did loose a wonderful
    young man the day that Matthew
    died...God rest his soul and my
    people PLEASE open their eyes and
    stop this stupid homophobia...

    I try everyday to ERASE THE HATE
    at school...It worked on a few
    children so far :) That's better
    then non :)

    I loves ya Kiddo...You and Kadin
    put a smile on my face :)



  2. elise Says:

    Thank you for posting this, Ryan. I wear my purple wristband everyday, and hope someone will ask about it so I can talk to them about stopping the hate.

    I will say an extra prayer today for Matthew and his family, and for you, Ryan, and for all the other gay loved ones I'm blessed to have in my life, and for those who've touched my heart but were gone too soon...

  3. Eirik Says:

    I just finished the book his Mom put out titled; "The meaning of Mathew". It is an awsome, sad read, but very inspirational in many aspects. Seth also made a post yesterday about Mathew - I have a feeling that we will see a few more this week which is good I think. It is something that should never be forgot. Thanks for the great post Ryan.

  4. You know how I feel and I am shaking as I read this.
    With rage that this happened - and still happens today. I will always do my part, open my mouth and lend a hand for tolerance and acceptance. For EVERYONE.

  5. ryan field Says:

    Good post, Ryan.

  6. Matt Says:

    Great Post Ryan,

    I know that at the time that he was killed I don't think I really knew much about it as it was at the very start of my freshman year of hs, and I didn't yet know that I was gay then, though I was called gay and faggot, kids can be so cruel sometimes.

    I didn't know that you were attacked for being gay, I was attacked this past spring, not for being gay I don't believe, but it was and has been a traumatic experience that I've had to work hard to get through and I'm still scared to do certain things to this day as I fear that something will happen again, and that next time it would be much much worse.