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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Concert on campus remembers 1998 homophobic murder of Wyoming college student

According+to+Jason+Marsden%2C+the+Executive+Director+of+the+Matthew+Shepard+Foundation%2C+his+legacy+means+to+me+what+it+means+to+so+many--+a+fixed+point+in+the+path+toward+LGBT+acceptance+in+our+society%2C+ultimately+being+achieved+despite%2C+or+because+of%2C+fallen+heroes.
Photo by by Carlie Russell

According to Jason Marsden, the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, “his legacy means to me what it means to so many– a fixed point in the path toward LGBT acceptance in our society, ultimately being achieved despite, or because of, fallen heroes.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1998, at approximately 11:45 p.m., 21-year old Matthew Shepard, a gay college student attending the University of Wyoming, was kidnapped from a bar by Aaron McKinney and Russel Henderson. Shepard was driven to the outskirts of Laramie, robbed, beaten with a pistol, tied to a buck-rail fence and left to die.

 

The events of that night inspired Craig Johnson to create “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a musical choir performance centered around Shepard’s death and on finding positivity in the midst of hate. Johnson worked on the show for 15 years, from 1998 to 2013. “Considering Matthew Shepard” was performed in Rudder Theatre on Jan. 29 & 30.

 

Brian O’Hara, MSC President, said the show is important and relevant to A&M’s students because it prompts a discussion the campus needs to have, but in a different way.

 

“We may not share their identity, but we need to stand up for them. I want students to be open to being challenged, inspired and stimulated,” O’Hara said. “The show is different because it takes this dark and twisted event and shares it through song. It’s a conversation through a different medium.”

 

After the performance, students in the audience were seen visibly emotional and crying. Education graduate student Marcie Murfield said the show made her consider the effects of group mentality.

 

“The show was powerful, heartbreaking and inspiring. There is amazing power in groups, mentally. If we use that, we can protect each other. It’s a great message,” Murfield said.

 

Madison Valentine, student affairs graduate student, said the show speaks to current issues.

 

“We need to continue the conversation. Even though this happened in 1998, the story still needs to be told and people need to be informed so they can stand together,” Valentine said.

 

The show was followed by a discussion about LGBTQ+ issues on A&M’s campus with a panel moderated by Pamela Matthews, the dean of liberal arts. The discussion focused mostly on finding light around times the LGBTQ+ community experienced darkness on campus, and on the creation of “Considering Matthew Shepard.”

Matthews said that discussion was an important role in the process to improve the campus.

 

“Sometimes we’ve got to do a better job and that doesn’t mean just cheering everyone up again, it means facing the problem and looking in the mirror,” Matthews said.

 

 

Johnson said the show was meant to inspire love and positivity.
“The time is now to speak to this darkness. We don’t heal as a you and me. We heal as a we,” said Johnson. “Hate has always been relevant…we feel very called to sing a song of love and we need to be bold. We have to ask ‘is love to be found at the core?’ And I can’t answer that for you, that’s something we have to answer for ourselves.”

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