More than $30,000 raised to install bronze plaque near where Matthew Shepard was laid to rest

The openly gay university student was beaten, tortured and whipped back in 1998


Words: Steve Brown

More than $30,000 has been raised to install a memorial plaque near to where Matthew Shepard was laid to rest.

On 7 October 1998, 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was found tied to a fence post, almost crucifixion-style, in a field outside Laramie, Wyoming.

Bleeding, half-frozen and shoeless, the American college student had been left to die after being beaten, tortured and repeatedly whipped around his head with a gun wielded by two men he met in a local bar then hitched a ride with.

Five days later, Matthew succumbed to his terrible injuries in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The shocking killing is widely regarded as one of the most horrific anti-gay hate crimes in US history, with blond-haired, blue-eyed Matthew becoming the human symbol for acts of violence against the LGBT+ community.

Matthew was cremated but his funeral was picketed by protestors holding signs reading: “God hates f**s” and Fred Phelps – the anti-gay found of the Westboro Baptist Church – wanted to build a monument against him saying: “Matthew Shepard Entered Hell”.

Two decades after his brutal murder, his remains were interred at the Washington National Cathedral last month.

Following the ceremony, a GoFundMe page was set up in a bid to raise $30,000 for a bronze plaque to be installed in the chapel of St Joseph of Arimathea at the Washington National Cathedral.

Matthew’s pla que would sit next to political activist Helen Keller and so far, the fundraising page and beat it’s target in just 16 days.

Two months after Matt’s death — on his birthday, 1 December — his parents Judy and Dennis Shepard formed The Matthew Shepard Foundation.