Monday, February 25, 2008

For 10 years I’ve quietly watched the LGBT Community and Judy Shepard struggle to receive equal rights and protection from hate crimes, following the painful death of her oldest son Matt.  It was an event that was life changing for many people of all walks of life.  If you do not know the story then here is a brief over view.

In 1998 Judy Shepard and her family were thrown into the media spotlight following the brutal murder of her oldest son Matt.  It is a case that has brought sexual orientation and hate crimes to the fore front of political, personal and religious arguments around the world.  Letters of support came pouring into the Shepard family from all over the world.  They came from families who didn’t care about Matthew being gay, they just saw a family in need after an event that should never have happened in the 20th century.  People of the LGBT community and allies alike-formed candle light vigils and prayer services.  It was an event that made people talk and discuss the topic of homosexuality it doesn’t matter if people agreed or not.  It is a topic that has been ignored for centuries, and it took a tragic event in a tiny town in an under-populated state to bring it into classrooms, churches, places of work and politics.  Finally.

In 1998 I have to admit that I had no idea what the HRC, LGBT, GLAAD and any other organization that had an acronym for dealing with civil rights for people of a different sexual orientation or gender identity.  In all honesty it was a topic that wasn’t discussed and I didn’t know about because I myself was straight.  Well that’s not an acceptable excuse anymore.  Even if you are straight, the topics surrounding the LGBT and hate crimes legislation are a very important topic.  It is 2008, an election year, and we need to know that constitution is still as important as it was at the creation of the country, the reason our ancestors fled here from other countries is to be protected no matter their skin color, religion or who they loved.

In the last 10 years I have learned a lot about the LGBT community and met many new friends and many people who have influenced and opened my mind to new things and ideas.  I admit I have not learned as much as I had wanted, but nothing in life goes the way you want it.  That is why I have come to work for the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

I felt that as a straight ally I might have a voice that is new to the public and to other people that have always wanted to help but do not know how to contribute to the cause.  It is very important that allies step up support and let their voices be heard.  In this age of technology where knowledge is just a ‘click’ away I feel that there is no better time than now; in an election year to make sure that “Everyone” is protected from hate crimes and has the right to love whom they choose and live their life in happiness.  An attack of racism, bigotry, and homophobia does not just attack individuals it attacks communities.  Individuals create the whole and when individuals are attacked it hurts the entire community. 

 Most people have friends that are out of their race, religion, sexual orientation and the question to you is; what will do if your childhood friend, roommate, sibling, relative or even a polite neighbor down the hall that held the door open for you are beaten or killed for being “different”?  Will you stand by as an individual and be scared that it could happen to you or come together as a community and protect the rest of your loved ones and work to erasing hate and teaching love and tolerance, of those around you.  Hate is a learned emotion it is an infection that is spread by ignorance.  Even if you don’t agree with the views of those in your community, having an open mind and discussing important topics are a necessity in growing as a human being, even if in the end you say, “I don’t agree with that view.”  At least you listened and you are a better person for being empathetic.

I am here as a person of experience to try and tell people its ok to be an ally, it is ok to step up for what you believe in, it is ok to protect those people that you love.  Before jumping to conclusions about something or someone you know nothing about, ask them questions; it is better to ask dumb questions than be scared and ignorant of what you don’t know.  I think its time for a change and that’s why I’m finally here.  My name is Logan Shepard and Matt was my older brother.

6 comments:

erasehate08 said...

My name is Tracie and I would love to do anything and everything in this world to help out on help stop and ad fight agianst homophobia bc their is to much dram and hate going on in this world I wanna become an activist for The LGBT the LGBT community ,I wanna help young ppl and teach them that hateing someone bc of their exuality is wrong bc we are all children of God and and we wasnt by choice hate is by choice because hate i taught everywere,I wanna say you are a wonderful person for what you are doing Logan you and yor momma Judy I am so proud of the ppl in the LGBT community and the ally's we wouldnt know what to do with out ppl like you in our community!Godbless you and your family you are always loved not only by me but others who are just like me !

Australia Scott said...

I'm glad to see this. I've always thought that the gay rights movement would never really pick up steam until it became a cause straight allies would be willing to stand up and fight for. I dont really believe most people are homophobic; however, because the culture at large is, people are afraid to make a stand.

My high school GSA was blessed to have two girls who everyone thought were a lesbian couple, until they both revealed their heterosexuality and boyfriends shortly before graduation. That was bold and ballsy, enduring the rumors and hate speech all through high school to make a statement.

But I wonder, and I pose this question to you: Is it more important that gays and allies stand together unified without feeling compelled to say "I'm straight, but...", or is it a stronger message to say "You dont have to be gay to support gay rights"? I really dont know.

Dan said...

Thank you Logan. God Bless you and your family this year, I know its gotta be hard but you have touched so many people and I'm so proud to support you.

Alfred said...

Dear Logan I was unaware that you'd come out of the shadows until my German penpal told me. I have had my say on the various sites dedicated to Matt. I admit that I was unaware of all of the tumult until I became a netizen around the time of the McKinney trial. I have been active on those sites, and I was the one who passed the warning when I found your address and telephone in Laramie a few years ago. I also thought that A&E violated your privacy when they showed you in that family picture, although it was a little blurred. In any case, I am happy to see that you have become active. If only Chastity Pasley had such wisdom!

Karen said...

Hi, Logan. Thanks for putting up this blog. I wanted to let you know that I was at the candlelight vigil outside Poudre Valley Hospital on October 9, 1998.

I wrote up an account which is here:

http://www.tchastings.com/matt_robinson_memories.html


Since then I have been to that hospital several times with my mother, as she is in failing health. I always think of your family when I am there.

In 2002 my daughter and I went to an anti-Fred-Phelps rally at the CSU football field. I thought it was going to be horrible, but it turned out to be inspiring to see what the local people did:

http://www.angelfire.com/my/zelime/godislove.html

I wrote a poem about that day that I'll put at the end of my post.

I have known Alfred, the poster above me, for many years on the messageboards. It was his post on the matthewsplace board that alerted me to your blog.

I've struggled for years with the question of whether to identify myself as straight when I'm speaking out for gay rights. I don't as much as I used to, but when I write letters to the editor, I usually do, because I think it gives some weight to the cause to show that it's not just people speaking from self-interest. On the other hand, when I'm just hanging around at events like Freedom to Marry Day, I don't make any effort to identify myself as straight. Each of us in my household have rainbow bumper stickers on our cars. I think my husband mostly put his on because he likes rainbows ;-) My daughter identifies as bisexual, and her best friend is a young gay man. (Truth to tell, I've wondered most of my life whether I might be bisexual myself, but since I've never been intimate with anyone but my husband of 30 years, it's pretty hypothetical.)

Thanks again for your blog. Here's my poem about the anti-Phelps rally:

Report from the Battlefront

You stand huddled in the prison of your own making,
Fenced in by your terrible signs.
Who is this god you worship, who hates us all?
I think you misname him; he has another name.
You bring your own hell with you,
You wrap yourselves and your children in hellfire
And your signs dance like mocking demons in the wind.

Sickened, I turn my back on you,
And see an angel tall against the sky:
A banner of white and gold proclaiming
"God is Love!"
Rainbows billow around me,
Swirling in the fierce, clean wind
That blows like the breath of God.
Beneath the tall angels we mortals break bread,
Sharing donuts like a sweet communion,
Hugging and smiling, waving
At the passersby, who return our love.
I have turned my back on Hell
And have entered Heaven.

This is what happens when angels go to war:
A battle of the spirit, fought with words,
With banners streaming in the sun
And lighted candles shining in the dark.
I will pray for you to be released
From the Hell you have made.
I will pray that you enter Heaven
And know that God is love.

George said...

I am a gay man who has been with my partner for 28 years. The first gay murder that I can remember was of Paul Broussard on July 4th, 1991 just a couple of blocks from where I lived in the Montrose area of Houston, Texas. 1 of the 10 persons that committed the bashing which lead to his death said that they came in to the Montrose area to "bash queers". I was working a gay bar back then and I was actually kind of afraid to be out and about. We have come along way but not far enough. When I heard of the news of Matthew's beating and subsequent death, I seat down and cried because it is a sad thing when one cannot live their life the way the want without being in fear of their life. I am happy to see straight people come out for our rights as human beings but saddened when I see those who use the Bible to hurt another human being emotionally. I pray that someday, we will all live together in peace, mercy, and justice.

George