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Out in the Bay

How are LGBTQ civil rights 25 years after Matt Shepard?

Matthew Shepard Foundation

In December 1998, soon after its namesake's savage murder, his parents launched the Matthew Shepard Foundation to erase hate-based violence. We’ve seen big advances since then — and big setbacks. LGBTQ+ leaders discuss where we are now.

Gay college freshman Matthew Shepard was viciously beaten, tied to a fence post and left to die on a cold night in Wyoming in October 1998. His murder shocked the nation.

On Dec. 1, 1998, which would have been Matthew’s 22nd birthday — the Matthew Shepard Foundation was born. Through his parents' efforts, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability were added to federal hate crimes law in 2009. We’ve seen other advancements since then.

But recently, we’ve seen increasing political and physical attacks against LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people. Where are we now?

Out in the Bay founder Eric Jansen hosted a live call-in discussion on KALW’s Queer Power Hour about the ups and downs since Matthew’s murder and what we can do now to protect civil rights and safety for LGBTQ+ people.

In this panel discussion, we hear from experts Melanie Willingham-Jaggers of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Brandon Wolf of the Human Rights Campaign; Shelby Chestnut of the Transgender Law Center; and Tom Temprano of Equality California and Silver State Equality. We also hear powerful words from Matt's mother, Judy Shepard.

After the panel convo, we hear a “quicky” commentary from Jim Van Buskirk. He recounts snickering and shame in his childhood partly because of how he spoke. We’re glad that, looking back, he was able to find some humor in it!

We encourage you to hear Judy Shepard tell her story in our our 2009 conversation.We've re-posted it to honor the Shepards on this anniversary. It is among Out in the Bay‘s most emotional and inspiring interviews in our 15-year history. We also encourage you to check out MatthewsPlace.com, a platform of stories by and for LGBTQ+ youth.

Please help us keep bringing queer air to your ears. Out in the Bay is an independent non-profit production. We receive no funds from podcast platforms nor from radio stations that air Out in the Bay weekly. Your gift will help keep LGBTQ voices and stories coming to you and others who might not be able to give. (Donate tabs on our website will take you to a Media Alliance interface. Media Alliance is our non-proft 501(c)3 fiscal agent. Your gift will be earmarked for Out in the Bay.)

This edition of Out in the Bay on KALW’s Queer Power Hour was produced by Kendra Klang and hosted and co-produced by Eric Jansen; audio clip editing and creative input by David Kwan; Tarik Ansari was KALW’s studio engineer for our live broadcast.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.