Matthew Shepard laid to rest at Washington National Cathedral
By Ella Braidwood
Matthew Shepard’s remains have been interred at the Washington National Cathedral, more than 20 years after his death.
Shepard, whose murder in 1998 paved the way for LGBT+ hate crime legislation in the US, was laid to rest following a service in front of
more than 2,000 people on Friday (October 26).
It took over two decades to find a secure resting place for Shepard, whose parents feared his grave would be vandalised. Around 200
people are interred in the Cathedral, including former US president Woodrow Wilson and deaf-blind activist Helen Keller.
The thanksgiving and remembrance service in Washington DC was led by the retired reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest
to become a bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Robinson carried an urn containing Shepard’s ashes down the aisle in a candlelit procession, followed by Shepard’s parents Judy and
“If you close your eyes and open your hearts, Matt is right here,” Robinson said during the service.
Later in the ceremony, Robinson said he wanted to tell Shepard three things: “Gently rest in this place. You are safe now. Oh yeah, and
Matt, welcome home. Amen.”
The service was live-streamed on YouTube by the Washington National Cathedral.
Robinson also highlighted the continued discrimination against LGBT+ people in America, especially the transgender community.
He referenced a leaked Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) memo, published in The New York Times on October 21,
which proposed effectively erasing trans people by changing the definition of “sex” as strictly male or female based on “immutable
biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”
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