Star Trek icon George Takei pays tribute to the late Matthew Shepard in a column he wrote for National Coming Out Day in the US which falls each year on 11 October.
'It is also one day before a very sad anniversary - the death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was beaten, tortured and killed outside of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998,' Takei writes. 'Matthew was brutally murdered because he was gay.'
Takei, currently starring in the musical Allegiance at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, shares that he came out publicly in 2005 because he not only had the desire to stand up and be counted, but he also wanted to help people see the human side of how bigotry, hatred and intolerance affects others that resulted in the death of Shepard.
'Coming out is never easy, and often never ending,' he writes. 'If you have gay, lesbian or bisexual friends who have come out to you, take the time to thank them today for their courage, and for helping to make a difference in the lives of others, especially of young people like Matthew Shepard who bear so much of the burden of homophobia, bullying and violence against LGBT people.'
'Thank you. And Matthew, I promise you, we will remember.'