Matthew Shepard was a young boy from Wyoming who was viciously bashed and left for dead in October of 1998. Shepard was beaten because of his sexuality and as a result of his head injuries, died in hospital on October 12, 1998.
The Shepard murder case was extraordinary because it garnered a lot of national & international attention, and it triggered a lot of support in the USA for hate crime legislation.
The case also showed the number of ways a person’s legacy can be carried on through different and new media. Candlelight vigils were held all around the world in remembrance of Shepard, plays were written, foundations were created in his name, movies were made. These are all examples of new ways a message can be spread and a story can be told.
The Matthew Shepard case was one of the earliest examples of personal LGBT story telling to a massive worldwide audience. This has lead the way, with the help of the internet and social media to gain a wider audience, in the story telling of LGBT issues and it has shown other people wanting to tell their story that people will listen, as opposed to in the past.
One example of an LGBT issue using a different than usual form of media to tell a story and provoke change is the story of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom. Bitney Crone and Bridegroom were both young men from small towns in the USA who met and fell in love after moving to Los Angeles. After Bridegroom was accidentally killed, his parents chose to fully erase Bitney Crone from his legacy by not inviting him to the funeral, and practically erasing him from Bridegroom’s life like he was never a part of it. Bitney Crone was not allowed to be with Bridegroom for his last moments in hospital because he was not family, even though the couple lived together, had a business and a dog together and were practically a married couple.
This case is a prime example of using non-traditional media to tell a story. This story has now been made into a documentary entitled ‘Bridegroom’, which was funded by the public after a grassroots campaign.
Both the Shepard and the Bridegroom stories show that stories can be told in new and different ways, and have led the way in the LGBT world to get messages out into a wider public.