The only places I wanted to see in Laramie, WY were the Matthew Shepard bench (at the University of Wyoming) and the site where he was dumped. Matthew was just 21 years old when he was tortured and left for dead. He later died succumbing to his wounds while in hospital.
Hate killed him that night. One of his attackers had previously expressed anti-gay sentiment and targeted Matthew in a bar.
When we arrived at the bench that memorialized him I couldn’t help but think of the trauma he went through before he died. My thoughts moved to his parents losing a child. Selfishly, my mind turned to my two children. “I don’t want my children’s names to end up on a bench,” I said to myself over and over. Tears rolled down my face. Little did I know a bench would evoke in me such an emotional reaction. Even though I was on retreat, I Facetimed my kids from the bench just to tell them I loved them.
People are still beaten and killed, they are still thrown out of their houses, they are still looked at with disgust just for being gay. I used to be a person who thought being gay was immoral. God forgive me.
LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.