Tomorrow (12 October) is the 20-year anniversary of young gay man Matthew Shepard’s murder. And he will now have his final resting place.
On 12 October 1998, the 21-year-old accepted a car ride from a couple of young men.
Those homophobic thugs beat him, pistol-whipped him, robbed him, and tied him to a fence in the freezing cold in Laramie, Wyoming. He died six days later.
As a result of the gay hate crime, his parents – Judy and Dennis – set up a foundation in their son’s name that has helped thousands of people.
And now 20 years on, his remains will see their final resting place at the Washington National Cathedral.
This will happen following a service of thanksgiving and remembrance on Friday 26 October.
In a press release, Judy Shepard said: ‘We’ve given much thought to Matt’s final resting place, and we found the Washington National Cathedral is an ideal choice. Matt loved the Episcopal church and felt welcomed by his church in Wyoming.
‘For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world.
‘It’s reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world,’ she said.
Previously, Matt was cremated and his parents kept his urn while they considered what the right resting place should be.
A lasting legacy
The Washington National Cathedral hosted its first same-sex wedding in 2010. It also welcomed its first transgender preacher – the Reverend Cameron Partridge – to the Canterbury Pulpit in 2014.
Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde from the Episcopal Bishop of Washington will preside over the proceedings on the day.
Also present will be Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson – the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral said: ‘Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are.
‘In the years since Matthew’s death, the Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place,’ he said.
The service begins at 10am.