A letter from Judy Shepard

Bar none of my most favorite LGBTQ+ organizations is the Matthew Shepard Foundation. I found this in my inbox today and I wanted to pass it along.

When we conceived of the Matthew Shepard Foundation 25 years ago, a few weeks after Matt’s murder, Dennis and I were motivated to transform our grief into something meaningful: to fulfill Matt’s desire to create a better world and, in doing so, to erase the hate that cost us our son.

The Foundation’s accomplishments over the past quarter century—including successfully advocating for the federal hate crimes law that bears Matt’s name, educating legions of law enforcement officers about hate crimes investigation, and sharing our story around the world—wouldn’t have been possible without your support and that from thousands of others.

Yet, the work is far from over. As you know too well, our movement continues to be challenged at nearly every front. It’s both frustrating and heartbreaking and, at the same time, it strengthens our family’s resolve to sustain Matt’s legacy in ways that continue to make a difference. Over the next few years, that will include focusing more on public speaking, advocacy, and law enforcement training. 

This fall’s 2024 Bear to Make a Difference Gala will be our last, after 20 plus years of these celebrations. At our 2023 Gala, we observed the 25 years since Matt’s death. At this year’s Gala, we will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Shepard-Byrd Act – the federal hate crimes legislation signed into law by President Obama. Two milestones that mark our existence—thus far.