Matthew Shepard Foundation, MillerCoors, Metro partner for training

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: The “Stay Proud, Be Loud Happy Hour” roundtable discussion at Orlando’s Parliament House June 5, 2018. Photo courtesy MillerCoors.

TAMPA | The Matthew Shepard Foundation, MillerCoors and Metro Inclusive Health will hold a “Stay Proud, Be Loud Happy Hour” at American Social Tampa Aug. 15 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., an educational gathering designed to detail the importance of reporting hate crimes.

“Stay Proud, Be Loud” is a nationwide program that educates participants on ways to keep the LGBTQ community safe. It was launched in 2016 by the Matthew Shepard Foundation—dedicated to replacing hate with compassion—and brewery MillerCoors, longtime partners who connect with organizations like Metro Inclusive Health to provide local resources to area attendees.

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Connecticut governor signs bill banning ‘gay panic defense’

By : Wire Report
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) | Connecticut’s governor signed legislation June 21 banning use of the so-called “gay or trans panic” defense in criminal cases.

The defense is a controversial legal strategy that seeks to use a victim’s sexual orientation or identity as justification for a violent crime. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said that implies the life of a gay or transgender person is valued less than others and Connecticut won’t allow homophobia and transphobia to justify violent crime.

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Barr hints at continuing anti-LGBT policies at Trump Justice Department

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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William Barr, President Trump’s pick to become the next attorney general, held his cards close to the vest on LGBT issues Jan. 15 during his confirmation hearing, but hinted upon confirmation he’d pursue the anti-LGBT policies of his predecessor Jeff Sessions.

The answers from Barr suggest he’d continue to uphold the Justice Department’s view that LGBT people aren’t protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964, which bars sex discrimination in the workforce. Additionally, Barr suggested he’d uphold religious freedom even at the expense of anti-LGBT discrimination.

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We look back on 2018, a midterm year for a country that’s just living on a prayer

By : Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent
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It’s been two years since we, as a country, entered into the reality that is the Trump Administration. The country feels more divided than ever and the phrases “fake news” and “it’s all a witch hunt” are commonplace.

The violence that seems to define who Americans are these days is also there, particularly in Florida, where there has been no justice for the five transgender women of color who were murdered and yet another mass shooting—this time at a high school in Parkland, Fla.—pulled the focus of the world to our state.

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Tammy Baldwin wins re-election to U.S. Senate

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) won re-election Nov. 6 to her seat representing Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, becoming the first out lesbian and openly LGBT person to win re-election to the upper chamber of Congress.

CBS News declared Baldwin, a Democrat, the winner over her Republican opponent, State Sen. Leah Vukmir, shortly after polls closed in Wisconsin at 8 pm local time. 

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Matthew Shepard laid to rest in DC

By : Wire Report
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WASHINGTON (AP) | After 20 years without a permanent resting place, the remains of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student whose brutal murder in 1998 has come to symbolize the plight of the LGBTQ community in America, were interred at the Washington National Cathedral Oct. 26.

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Episcopal cathedral, the second-largest cathedral in the country, to celebrate Shepard’s life, mourn his death and honor his memory.

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Matthew Shepard’s personal items donated to Smithsonian

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The parents of Matthew Shepard on Oct. 25 officially donated some of their son’s papers and other personal items to the National Museum of American History.

A Superman cape that was part of one of Matthew Shepard’s Halloween costume, a preschool diploma and a wedding ring are among the items that Dennis and Judy Shepard donated to the museum. They also donated thousands of letters they received after Matthew Shepard’s death.

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Matthew Shepard’s parents reflect on son’s legacy, criticize Trump

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Matthew Shepard’s parents on Oct. 23 said their son would have been vehemently opposed to President Trump and his administration’s efforts to curtail LGBT rights.

“He would have found it ridiculous,” Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard, told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview.

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Matthew Shepard to be interred at Washington National Cathedral

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The ashes of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in one of the nation’s most infamous anti-gay hate crimes in 1998, will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral on Oct. 26, according to an announcement on Thursday by his parents.

The announcement came one day before the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s death on Oct. 12, 1998. Authorities said Shepard, 21, was tied to a fence just outside of Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 6, 1998, by two young men he met in a Laramie bar and who lured him into getting into their vehicle.

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20 years after his tragic death, we look back and remember Matthew Shepard and the work done in his name

By : Jeremy Williams
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In the early evening hours of Oct. 7, 1998, a cyclist was heading down a desolate, dirt road outside of the town of Laramie, Wyo. when he passed by something hanging from a fence. The cyclist initially thought, with it being so close to Halloween, that it was a scarecrow decoration. The “scarecrow” turned out to be the beaten and broken body of 21-year-old, openly-gay college student Matthew Shepard. He was barely breathing. His face was completely covered in his own blood, sans a strip down each side of his face where his tears washed the blood and dirt clean.

This was the introduction of the heinous attack to police, and eventually Shepard ‘s friends and family, the media and the world. The attack was felt firsthand by Shepard 18 hours prior after meeting two men in their early 20s at the Fireside Lounge, a bar in Laramie.

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10.04.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I like beer. This month marks 3 years since I stopped drinking. I talk about it all the time because I think it’s not talked about enough in our community.  Not talking about it perpetuates a stigma about alcoholics that is false. Since truth is now my everything, I talk about it. I like beer.

It is weird to me, turning terrible behavior into something to celebrate. Congratulations, Rick, on three years of doing something you should have been doing all along. Although, it is a celebration of sorts: It’s like coming out. It’s about owning who you are and choosing an honest path.  It’s about taking bad life choices and turning them into good, or at least attempting to. This is why every year in the month of October, I share my story. I don’t do it so I get likes on Facebook or some pat on the back. I do it so people can see how addiction affected my life, as well as those around me. I do it so people who might see similarities in their lives can know there is a better way.

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Osceola Arts brings the story of Matthew Shepard’s death to Orlando

By : Jeremy Williams
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matthew-shepard

Matthew Shepard

Nearly 20 years after the death of Matthew Shepard, The Laramie Project, a play about Shepard’s murder in 1998 and the trial that drew international media attention to LGBT rights and hate crime laws, resonates as much now as it did then.

Osceola Arts’ Stage Left Studio Series will present The Laramie Project Oct. 1- 10, exactly 18 years after the events leading to Shepard’s death occurred and less than four months after the largest mass shooting and hate crime in the United States occurred in Orlando.

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