Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard.
As a parent I want to make this world safer for my own child and everybody else’s gay child.
I won’t be able hide behind trees and crouch behind bushes while she goes to out into the world in order to make sure no harm comes to her.
What I can do is try to engage others in conversation about queer kids. Until she is older I can try to protect her from the ignorance or prejudice of people who know she is out.
I can be an ally and an advocate.
Yesterday I went to Safe Zone/Ally Training. I suggest that anyone who wants to make the world a safer place for members of the LGBT community consider spending an afternoon at a local training. I will proudly display my Safe Zone sticker beside my office door, so that anyone who needs a safe space will have one.
Moreover, displaying the Safe Zone sticker let’s others know they aren’t alone.
One can find plenty of information about being an ally information here.
Many universities regularly offer Safe Zone/Ally Training. Check with your local university’s LGBT Center or Women’s Center to see if or when they will offer a training session.
October 12th will mark the 13th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard.
I just read a blog which reminds us, in the words of Indira Gandhi that:
Martyrdom does not end something, it’s only a beginning.
Jamie Morris Shacker writes a blog, this positive life and recently published a post Thinking of Matthew. He writes about Matthew Shepard, his own identification with Shepard, and his own life as a young gay man in a small town. I was especially moved by his story,
Growing up, I lived in fear of my hometown; I never felt safe there. I remember walking home from work late at night wondering who was going to jump out of a car and attack me. I still dream about those nights. They were few but impactful nonetheless. Or the bullying in the halls, on the play ground or just the looks and whispers behind my back, into books, etc…
Being a queer kid in a small town is not always an easy thing, in fact I cannot think of a single instance where it is. I cannot speak to what it is like in larger cities, that simply was not my experience. I think it must be the same, I mean no matter how big a city is, if you are ten, your world is your school and you do not have access to others outside of that world. Well, maybe they do today with the internet. But in my day, if you will, we certainly did not have that luxury. Either way for hundreds of kids a computer is simply not enough.
I just wanted to write something, to express these crazy feelings I am having, to emote as I said earlier and to ask all you to never forget Matthew Shepard and to find all of those little queer kids (or any other kid who seems a little alone and isolated) and give them a hug or whatever you believe proper, so they know someone is on their side, that they are not alone. And, when given the opportunity, speak out against hatred and violence towards anyone; words do harm and words can be violent. When you hear someone make a negative comment about gay people in general, a specific person or any group, remember it is these attitudes that brought two young men to a field in Laramie, WY to kill. It is this attitude and ignorance that ended a life.
Everyday I try to let my little queer kid know she is not alone by loving her and celebrating her, but just as importantly I try to surround her with as many vocal allies as possible. Yet for every one child lucky enough to be born into a queer-positive family like ours there are scores out there who are scared and alone. There are scores of children who are being negated and threatened by their own families and communities.
Most assuredly I will remember Matthew Shepard, on October 12th and every day.