Yesterday was World AIDS Day a time to reflect on and remember a disease that is continuing to decimate scores of people across the world. I do not have any direct experience of AIDS but I have recently come into direct contact with the gay community who, sadly, have a close acquaintance with the disease.
As my personal blog for World AIDS Day I wanted to draw attention to a story that has touched me deeply. It is the story of Matthew Shepard.
Matthew Shepard was a young gay man who was conned into going in a vehicle with 2 young men. The two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead him to a remote area east of Laramie, Wyoming, where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow.
Matthew died on October 12, 1998 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. His entire family was by his side for the last few days of his life. His funeral was attended by friends and family from around the world and gained the appropriate media attention that brought Matthew's story to the forefront of the fight against hate.
It is 10 years since the horrific events that led to the premature death of Matthew Shepard. The foundation bearing his name continues to raise awareness of hate and prejudice and seeks ways to overcome homophobia in modern society.
As we remember the countless people suffering from the AIDS virus I wanted to draw attention to the hate and prejudice that is still evident in society and in our churches towards gay and lesbian people. Today is the day to erase hate.