For the past fifteen years, Dennis and Judy Shepard have transformed the senseless tragedy of their son Matthew’s death into fuel for passionate activism promoting gay rights and protections. Now, that journey is leading them to Russia, where they hope to share their story and talk with parents of LGBT youth.
They’ll first attend a screening of Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine at the Side by Side Film Festival in St. Petersburg. The festival stands in defiant opposition to local anti-gay sentiments by promoting LGBT tolerance, and has to skirt around the country’s “anti-propaganda” laws.
The film’s director, Michelle Jouse, said that by screening the film in the United States, “We’ve been preaching to the choir. It’s important to get our film seen by a community that didn’t have access to it.”
“Putin has made it so unhealthy to be LGBT or an ally,” Dennis Shepard told the AP. “It will take at least a generation to clean up the mess he’s made and get some acceptance.”
From St. Petersburg they’ll travel to Moscow and meet with gay youth and their families.
We wish them all a safe and productive trip.
Here’s the trailer for the film: