Twenty years after his death, Matthew Shepard, the young gay man whose violent death spawned a nationwide push for hate crimes laws, will be honored with a bronze plaque at the National Cathedral. Shepard’s remains were interred at the cathedral last year.
Shepard wasn’t buried out of fear his remains would be desecrated.
The plaque will mirror Helen Keller’s, who is also buried in the crypts. Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, was adamant that her son represents more than simply gay people and stands for all minorities who are regularly discriminated against. She insisted that the bottom of his plaque be written in Braille for visually impaired visitors.
Supporters donated the funds for the marker.
“For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world. It’s reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world,” his mother said. “We’re grateful for each gift that created this beautiful plaque that now marks Matt’s final resting place. We hope this will be a place that forever offers solace and strength for all who visit.”
“As a sacred space for the nation and house of prayer for all people, the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as Matthew’s final resting place, and to take this further step to show that, finally, Matthew is home and he is safe,” said Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral.
“Matthew’s indelible legacy and the enduring strength and courage of his family and loved ones serve as a guiding force for all of us in how to confront bigotry by fostering greater love, acceptance and embrace of people of all backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations. We are proud to play our part in this important, necessary struggle.”
The plaque will be dedicated on December 2. The ceremony will be open to the public.