As is with tradition, today is the day that I pause to reflect upon Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was savagely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die.
Trying to avoid too much repetition this year (see 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, or any of the many times he’s been mentioned on my blog via a search for Matthew Shepard), I want to talk a bit about the future and a choice that I’ve made.
I have strong connections to two universities: the University of Wyoming and Indiana University Bloomington – and it is the latter where I came out and came to be proud. The IU GLBT Student Support Services Office, in particular its director, Doug Bauder, were there. I didn’t use a lot of the services offered, but I have had a number of interested and helpful conversations with Doug—and Doug was among those who put together the candle light memorial for Matthew Shepard at Indiana University.
Consequently I am on an email distribution list for the IU Bloomington GLBT Alumni network and several times a year I receive emails that tell me about upcoming GLBT events on campus and in the community – like, for example, the Pride Film Festival or the rededication ceremony for the newly refurbished GLBT House.
This past summer one of my UW professors encourage me to forward this email to the University of Wyoming’s Rainbow Resource Center and see if something similar couldn’t be set up at UW.
So I did.
And it has.
I’ve known about it for a little while, and my UW professor recently forwarded me the RCC’s on campus newsletter with this tidbit:
Are You an Alumni of the RRC?
We are starting an Alumni group for the RRC. If you are interested in taking part in this new organization please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Participation can range from being on an email network to leadership for the group. If you know the emails of UW graduates who were part of the LGBTQ community, let us know those as well by emailing email@example.com.
But I’m also going to put my money where my mouth is – and the fact is that although IU’s GLBT Student Support Services office could use more money, the University of Wyoming’s Rainbow Resource Center can use it more.
I’m not foolish enough to think that I can make a huge difference (certainly not with my current income and ability to make charitable donations), but I think that my commitment to deliver at least $100/100€ (whichever is more, based on me living in Germany) each year is a good start – and I hope to exceed that amount.
What I want to do in the long run is change Wyoming and its attitudes – I want the Equality State, the first to let women vote in 1869, to become more equal. And the place to start is the campus of the University of Wyoming.
If you are a GLBT Alumnus of the University of Wyoming, I urge you to take part in this new organization, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org — further, if you can afford to do so, make a donation.
Matthew Wayne Shepard: 1 December 1976 – 12 October 1998.
Rest in peace.