name:                 Shepard
surname:           Matthew
born:        1st of December, 1976

murdered: 12th of October, 1998
aged:                               21 years

Photo-montage réalisé par Willem Degan

(Translated by Al)

Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming.
He died on the 12th of October, 1998, after being savagely beaten by two boys of his own age, because he was gay.
He hadn't even reached his twenty-second birthday.
We wish to make a simple tribute to him and all those who, like him, have become victims of intolerance and hatred.



Matthew is someone exceptional and we can all learn something from his life. All of us who know him see him for what he is: a kind and sweet person. He has a lot of faith in humankind and believes firmly in the rights of others.

He was only intolerant of those who couldn't accept others as they are. He always thought that all human beings are equal, whatever their sexual orientation, race, or religion.

Judy and Dennis Shepard,
Matthew's parents.
(in a message read out at the hospital on the 10th of October, 1998).
When Matt smiled it wasn't only with his mouth. His whole face and body lit up. His eyes danced and his presence and energy shone out. If we saw each other in the street he'd run up and embrace me in a way that was unique to him.

Sometimes he'd turn up at the front door and ask "Am I interrupting anything?"

When he did that his eyes didn't dance, and he didn't give me one of those hugs. Instead he looked like a young child who'd just seen a horror film. He'd come in and ask me if he could just hang out with me. He brought his textbooks with him. He'd sit and watch TV or get on with his studies.

After a while he'd start talking, telling me someone had just called him "poof" or "lunatic." He'd explain how that hurt him deep in his soul, and how he needed to feel safe again. Then he'd stay a little longer, calming down and trying to pull himself together and be strong. That wasn't easy for Matt, for he was the exact opposite of strong. After a while, the old Matt would return and we'd go back to school or he'd have a walk with a friend. 

Walter Boulden,
friend of Matthew,
During the vigil at the Capitol in Washington DC, 14th of October, 1998.



Matthew knew he wasn't the best athlete in the world, but he had the competitive spirit. Once he took part in the Wyoming State Games. He did well which prompted him to take place in the swimming trials.

He did it knowing that he would be last. And so he did.



In some way, the life of Matthew has always been a battle. He was born prematurely, and as a baby he had to fight for his life.

He is not physically big, but he fights for others like a giant.

He considers it a triumph whenever someone improves their life because of him.

Judy and Dennis Shepard,
Matthew's parents.
(in a message read out at the hospital on the 10th of October, 1998).



Matthew's death has hit me hard. Why? I don't even know that myself. One thing is that we were both students and both 22. Also, you can't help being moved by the circumstances of his death.

I'd have to say that I'm quite intolerant myself. It took Matt's death to make me realise how wrong I was. My ideas about gay people were what the media fed me about Gay Pride and transvestites. But Matt is the one who has made me understand that homosexuals are people like you and me.

His death affected me greatly, and I have learned a lot about myself.

Also it's made me realise things I was unaware of all around me. There are three of my friends who I think are gay, but I don't think they'd ever confide in me.

I want to change my attitude and be truly tolerant. There's still much for me to put right, but I've made a good start

a French student aged 22

Matthew's last minutes of consciousness on this world were that horrific attack. Because of this we, his family and friends, want more than ever to say goodbye to him with calmness, dignity, and love.

Dennis Shepard,
Matthew's father,
during the funeral on the 16th of October, 1998.
We've had enough of hatred and violence.
Everyone has the right to love!

Ellen Degeneres,
During the vigil at the Capitol in Washington DC, on the 14th of October, 1998.

Links to other website about Matthew: