In light of yesterday, National Coming Out Day, I thought I’d discuss Michele Josue’s moving documentary on Matthew Shepard. (Although, from the very beginning, Ms. Josue notes that the media’s decision to refer to him as ‘Matthew’ doesn’t quite capture the loving, goofy, gentle nature of ‘Matt.’)
For those who don’t know, Matt Shepard was a 21-year-old gay student from Casper, Wyoming. He liked theater, travel and hugs, and was just beginning to feel comfortable in his sexuality. In 1998, he was brutally murdered. This was a hate crime that fascinated the whole nation. For the first time in history, policy changes seemed possible– voices were speaking out and finally being heard. It’s horrible that such a tragedy was necessary to spark this (progressing) paradigm shift in thought, governance and advocacy. How far we’ve come. How far we’ve come…? Hm.
Josue’s film, “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine,” gives the public insight into Matt’s life that they’ve never had before, and it feels like a gift. An artful, collective sigh of a documentary that humanizes an unassuming figurehead. It’s a layered look at a guy named Matt, who was just as much of a living, breathing, human being as I am today. He was my age. Maybe in my distance from 1998, I’ve created a saintly aura around him…Because up until now, I’d never thought about how truly alive and real he was. That makes me sadder. It’s a beautiful thing to watch his family and friends discuss him.
Watch this movie to learn about a boy who found fame, who made an impact, in death, but was often so much larger than life in life.