By Quedus Babalola
Many people living in America have expressed fear due to the rise of hate groups and violence to the LGBT+ community.
Twenty years after Matthew Shepard was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming for being gay, Bishop Gene Robinson interred Shepard’s ashes at the Washington National Cathedral on Oct. 26. The Rainbow
Alliance club on campus decided to educate the student body on the atrocious murder that took place by showing the film, “The Laramie Project,” in the Hillwood Cinema on Monday, Oct. 22.
“We chose to show this film because, along with many things, October is LGBT+ history month. Our history is often over- shadowed and overlooked, and as an organization we decided to think of ways
we could use this month to educate people of the history of the community,” Nicole Ludwig, a sophomore psychology major and president of the Rainbow Alliance, said.
Shepard was a 21-year-old student studying political science at the University of Wyoming. On Oct. 6, 1998, he was robbed, beaten and tied to a fence, where he was left to die after the attack. He was pronounced dead six days later. Shepard left a bar with two men who told him they would give him a ride home. The same two men were initially going to be charged with robbery, until their actions of beating Shepard and leaving him to die were discovered to be motivated by hate. They were later convicted with kidnapping and murder.
“The Laramie Project” is “a powerful and emotional film that covers the perspectives of so many individuals after the incident, and it really gives people insight as to how people really feel about LGBT+ people,” Ludwig said.
A common saying in the documentary is “live and let live.” This phrase is thrown out by people who were interviewed in the documentary in regards to having an issue with gay people. In today’s social climate, this phrase and understanding has become more prevalent. Its okay for you to be who you are, just as long as you’re not making anyone “uncomfortable.”
“As long as you don’t hit on a straight man, you’re good in his book. The concept that all gay men want to turn straight men out and all that other stuff needs to be thrown out,” Marrantz Aubain, a senior psychology major said. “I think its repulsive when I hear people tell others they’re cool because they aren’t like the rest, especially when referring to the person’s masculinity or femininity,” he continued.
The Rainbow Alliance club strives to highlight and educate the student body about LGBT+ issues, especially during LGBT+ history month. “As discouraging as it may feel, do not let these events be the thing that makes you not come out to your friends and family or to stay silent when you wanted to speak up on these issues,” Ludwig said. “In reality, this sort of thing is not any- thing new, and while that can be interpreted in a negative way, it can also be a source of strength.”
Ludwig emphasized that everyone’s voice is important, and needs to be heard “especially during these hard times.” “Be annoying and stubborn and fight for the changes you want and need. Don’t let a bunch of fools in power make you feel less than human. And never, ever deny yourself your own right to be happy – even if it feels like everyone else is trying to,” she continued. “Always aim for your own safety and comfort. It isn’t selfish. It’s how you get through these things.”