Matthew Shepard: December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998
This week marked the 20th commemoration of the torture, lynching and ultimate death of Matthew Shepard. The 21-year-old was tied to a barbed wire fence and left to die on a cold Wyoming night.
Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Queen Mother I of the Americas, has released a special message on this day of remembrance.
"Twenty 20 years ago, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their beloved young son, Matthew, to hate. He was brutalized and tortured. That same year, Jim Byrd, an African American man was also tortured and brutalized. Matthew was tied to a barbed wire fence.
James tied to a truck and dragged. Hate crimes are on the rise, especially against the Jewish community, the African American community, immigrant and GLBT communities.
We must, now more than ever, stand up to hate in any form. A hate crime against anyone is a hate crime against ALL of us. It gives me great joy to announce, that because of all the courts and members supporting this important campaign and the recent generous donations of Emperor 1 of the Americas, Terry Sidie and Crown Prince of the Americas, Charles Rozanski, the 2018 year long fundraising campaign for the Matthew Shepard Foundation is now at $70,000.00!!!
With three months to go! My most sincere appreciation to all the courts and members who have donated thus far. Every single donation and every fundraiser, every dollar raised, is making this campaign the success each of you should feel proud.
Twelve years ago, the Imperial Courts raised $120,000
Together we are indeed, trying to erase hate in our lifetime.
Queen Mother 1 of the Americas, Empress Nicole the Great"
Nicole also asks that the public use the original rainbow art by Clarione Gutierrez (see top left) as their social media profile picture to honor Matthew Shepard today. She asks that you also request your friends do the same,
"For we must never ever forget Matthew and the many GLBT People who have been killed since Matthew, because of hate. Especially our trans community which, has been a focus of rising hate and violence against our community. Today, Queen Mother Nicole will be making an exciting and special announcement of the current amount that has been raised by courts and members for our 2018 year long designated charity fundraising cause, The Matthew Shepard Foundation."
He says part of this year's 43rd Annual Nicky Awards on. Dec. 15 will benefit that foundation.
"20 years ago on this day, Matthew Shepard, A young student at the University of Wyoming was beaten, tortured, and left to die," said Ramirez in a statement. "His murder brought national and international focus on hate crimes. Soon countries all over the world had passed powerful legislation focusing on LGBTQ hate crimes.
The International Imperial Court System was granted permission to name an award after Matthew's parents: The Judy & Dennis Shepard Family Values Award. 2018 has been also designated for all courts to raise funds for the Matthew Shepard Foundation! Today, in honor of Matthew, Please put his picture on your facebook, and also again 6 days from now when he died. Finally, please make a donation to our court's national campaign for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Thank you and God bless the Shepard Family and all of you."
The importance of honoring Shepard is as relevant today as it ever was. Ramirez sent us a picture of a disturbing tee-shirt being sold in rural Wyoming.
The shirt is being sold in a biker bar in the very same city where Matthew Shepard was killed," he told us. "I was given one of those t-shirts and showed it at the last Harvey Milk Breakfast"
Ramirez was in Ohio the past weekend raising funds for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, so far taking in over $65,000, "Twenty years ago we raised $120,000, we hope to match it again this year."