[October is LGBT History Month and to celebrate, Queerty’s gaying up each day with our 31 Days of Queerstory.]
It’s difficult to believe that 15 years have passed since Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student, was brutally beaten and left dead on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. When shocking news of his eventual death from head injuries on October 12 reached the nation, LGBT people gathered en masse to mourn the loss with candlelit vigils around the country. During the past decade and a half Shepard’s name has become synonymous with horrific hate crimes against LGBT people. Numerous books have been written and plays and films have been produced about Shepard’s brief life but perhaps his enduring impact is how the senseless loss of his life has spurred his devoted mother Judy to become a tireless advocate for LGBT equality.