To honor Matthew Shepard’s memory and continue efforts to strengthen compassion and inclusivity in our community for LGBTQ+ and all social identities, the American Heritage Center curated an exhibit that is on display until October 31 at the Buchanan Performing Center of the Arts. It is also on display digitally in the Loggia of the Centennial Complex until October 20 and in the breezeway of the Wyoming Union on October 10, 11, 12, 22, and 25.
The exhibit contains a page from a memory book created by Rulon F. Stacey, an administrator at Poudre Valley Hospital when Shepard was admitted. Shepard died at the hospital on October 12, 1998 from a severe beating that occurred near Laramie. The memory book contains notes from Poudre Valley Hospital employees, a photograph, newspaper clippings, and correspondence relating to Shepard.
“Angel Action,” an activist group of people dressed as angels with large wings, was founded by Matthew’s friends Romaine Patterson and Jim Osborne to contrast Fred Phelps’ messages of hate and intolerance during protests at Matthew’s funeral and the anticipated protests outside of the courthouse for the trials of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Angel Action participation in protests was in a silent, peaceful, and loving manner.
Students and community members marched in Laramie in support of Matthew Shepard and tolerance. The University of Wyoming United Multicultural Council’s armbands represent UW students and the UW community unifying against any and all acts of violence and disrespect toward any other human being. The green circle is the international sign of peace and the yellow background is a symbol of intolerance for violence.
Current memorials at the University of Wyoming aspire to promote the message of compassion, community, and hope through activities and programs that emphasize an understanding of social justice that is intersectional in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, and class.
– Text submitted by Sara Davis, AHC University Archivist.