Monday, May 18, at 8 p.m. you have an opportunity – one night only – to see the documentary Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine at a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem.
Most people recall the shocking story of the University of Wyoming student who was brutally beaten by two men and left to die in 1998. This film gives viewers a unique opportunity to learn about the person behind the headlines from the friends and family who loved him most.
The fact that Matthew Shepard was gay was a crucial factor in the attack, and the crime and protests in its aftermath helped raise awareness about homophobia across the country. His murder was one motivation for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
For the last year, this powerful and personal film has been screened on the film festival circuit. Last May at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, I had dinner with festival staff and with Judy and Dennis Shepard, who were there for the screening of this film.
It is difficult to imagine how much the Shepards have suffered, but they have also found purpose in their son’s death and have continued the work they believe he would have undertaken himself if he had lived. Judy is well-known as an LGBT activist and, with Dennis, established the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
This special event is co-sponsored by a/perture cinema and Out at the Movies Winston-Salem. Immediately following the screening, I will join Suzanne Reynolds (Dean of the Wake Forest University Law School) and Shannon Gilreath (Professor of Law and of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at WFU) for a discussion of the film.
Seating is limited. Tickets are available in advance.