The hatred and continued persecution by Westboro Baptist Church further fed awareness as to the depths and horrors of homophobia.
We didn’t know the three-dimensional Matt, however.
At 21, you were already becoming an activist, and were filled with the desire to have a voice against prejudice.
You were already battling demons in this world, including HIV.
That demon had already gotten to you, long before that fateful night in Laramie.
When you were visiting Morocco with friends, on leave from boarding school, you ventured out of the closet you’d built and slipped into the night on your own, presumably to find the gay part of a strange town.
I understand that. When I was young, closeted, traveling with others, I did the same.
But stepping out didn’t bring you relief. Instead, you fell prey to a group of six thugs who lay in wait for a gentle gay boy to rape.
That’s what they did. Foreshadowing a worse event to come, they not only abused your body, they threw you into a darkness that only the vilest of homophobia can create.
It was a darkness that you worked to escape when you returned home to Wyoming; to the land of your innocence.
As you were finding your voice as an LGBTQ activist, homophobia found you again.
This time, it slaughtered you.