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Matthew Shepard - Essay Example

This paper examines the murder of Matthew Shepard with respect to the circumstances leading to his death and his legacy. Alongside his younger brother, Shepard led a normal childhood attending school in Wyoming since his freshman to junior years. Shepard completed his education at The American School, Switzerland after his parents moved to the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp in Dhahran owing to his father's work. His experience abroad largely influenced his desire to travel, which led to an unfortunate incident during a school tour to Morocco where he was beaten and raped. This ordeal triggered a bout of depression and panic attacks that are attributed to his involvement with drugs during college. Shepard attended college in Casper, Wyoming to major in political science where his interest in politics sought him a position as a student representative at the Wyoming Environmental Council. Friends and family described Shepard as an overly optimistic individual looking forward to new challenges. In addition, he held great passion for equality and acceptance as demonstrated in his roles at the community theatre and thus, was very approachable (“Matthew’s Story”). The tragic events that transpired shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 followed the conclusion of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Association (LGBTA). The organization comprised mostly of university students, but welcomed the indulgence of staff members as well as the townspeople. In spite of a low attendance during its meetings, the association’s email list was illustrated as a long one. The meeting on the night of October 6 was meant to organize last-minute details of the Gay Awareness Week slated for the following week. The association’s chair, Jim Osborn, had been attacked before the meeting where he described the events to fellow members and asked them to be vigilant. LGBTA traditions involve late night coffee breaks before adjournment. Shepard visited a local bar where he was approached by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson who offered him a ride home. However, events took a dramatic turn after the two drove to a rural area and proceeded to rob, bind Shepard to a fence, and whip him with the butt of .357 Magnum in their possession. He suffered had severe brainstem damages, fractures on his head, and numerous lacerations on his face and neck. The combination of these injuries incapacitated his body’s ability to control the heart rate, temperature among other vital functions. Shepard was discovered over 12 hours later by cyclist who perceived his bound composure and comatose state as a scarecrow (Thernstrom). Found in a near death state, doctors described his condition as too severe to risk an operation and as such, Shepard was placed on life support. Meanwhile, the brutal attack attracted the attention of local, national, and later international media shaping the calls for legislations to include the sexual minorities to the list of protected individuals by the law. Shepard was pronounced dead about a week later with his family by his side at the hospital. All the while, Laramie authorities investigating the heinous crime sought to retrace the last events of Shepard’s life McKinney and Henderson were arrest after they were found in possession of Shepard’ ...Show more
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Summary

Born on December 1, 1976 to Judy and Dennis Shepard in Wyoming, Matthew Shepard lived to become a victim of a hate crime that continues to transform and influence the lives of millions worldwide.Shepard’s murder is largely associated with his sexual orientation…
Matthew Shepard
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