Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine

Your dad said
you were not alone,
that night,
beaten, bleeding,
tied to that fence
under the great curved bowl of
that starry Wyoming sky.

He said your friends were with you:
the moon,
her face turned to you with love,
the stars you gazed at in wonder
with your dad 
as a child on family trips;
the sky you loved was with you,
and so was God.

You were a gentle soldier
in the army for gay rights.
From the ashes of your death,
your mother rose like a Phoenix,
determined that some good,
some healing,
would come out of 
your cruel and senseless loss.

Your mom and dad were there,
when President Obama signed into law
the Matthew Shepard and James Ayrd Jr.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
And so your life is remembered,
Matt, as you so longed to be,
as someone whose being here
made a difference.

Matt, you must smile
to know that, now,
just as you once dreamed,
the whole country
knows your name.

An oblique attempt to write about commitment for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif. I just watched the documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, about the young man's brutal beating and subsequent death in 1998, a hate crime perpetrated because of his sexual orientation. His mother became, with that event, committed to having some good, some change, come out of her son's death. She became an activist and speaker for gay rights. She and Matt's father were present when President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.  The Matthew Shepard Foundation: Embracing Diversity  is here.

source: Wikipedia


  1. such heartfelt words to honor the young man and his brave mother!..the phoenix image of her is wrought with grief, love and inspiring poem of commitment Sherry...

  2. Bravo for this poem and its moon--I feel it gently pacing through my bones. at first the title startled me. He was cruel death and short life were central to a solo performance I did back in 1999. Thank you.

  3. Such a heartfelt tribute Sherry..

  4. I cannot understand how anyone can brutally snuff out the life of another.
    A lovely tribute Sherry.

  5. This is a beautiful tribute to Matt, Sherry. Hopefully one day we will all see that gender choices is not a threat to civilization but perhaps the world could benefit from it.

  6. Sherry, I have seen that documentary too. Truly heart-breaking. I wish Matt had lived to see that there HAS been progress. Not enough, but hopefully as time goes on there will be more acceptance and love; but that will never bring him back, a worthy soul whose life was cut way too short.

  7. I know Matt hears you Sherry. I hopw wherever he is, he is glad some change has evolved. I'll have to see that documentary.

  8. Hats off to the parents who continued to battle after losing their son. It is a sad commentary on human progress that we still need laws to guard against hate crimes.. a lovely tribute to Matt.

  9. words can't express my appreciation of this, mi amiga. this past friday I lost a friend (posted on my FB page)of mine who struggled all his life in northern Indiana because of his sexual orientation. he is grateful also for this. gracias mi amiga

  10. Brutality is terribly frightening. Difference is always regarded as threatening to the cerebrally challenged . They have an inherent need to destroy it.

  11. Thank you for this, Sherry. You have portrayed a beautiful person.

  12. I didn't known this story. You've told it beautifully, Sherry – with restrain and with love (instead of hate for the perpetrators, which it would be all too easy to feel in one's turn.)

  13. I cannot fathom the depth of depravity that would even have a desire to inflict such harm on someone. I remember this event. I am thankful his family fought back to make the world a bit safer for generations to come.

  14. There have been some documentaries, books and events based on Matt's story. I know about the case, Sherry!
    This is a beautiful tribute, and to a grief that cannot, and should not, be lost.

  15. A wonderful tribute to a gentle soldier. And I would echo rallentanda's comment.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

  16. I wish that he were here to speak these beautiful words...but am so very glad when good people like yourself hold and tell these very special voices

  17. As trans-lesbian, I know, what it like, to bashed and chased, for being yourself. Luckily, I managed to run into a public library, to escape my pursuers. May Matthew and other victims of hate crimes, find true justice and lasting peace.

  18. Oh, so sad....humans can be such bruts. I am reminded of the words of Christ, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." It seems humans never do...until it is too late....


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