Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Matthew Shepard: 1976 - 1998
Have you ever been the victim of a Hate Crime? I don't mean the verbal sort (getting called a faggot). Sadly, this has happened to plenty of gay men. I'm talking about when your life is in danger - because several straight dudes have decided they want to physically bash a queer.
This happened to me when I was 23. I'd just left a gay bar, and all of a sudden I noticed six dudes (they were drinking in a vacant lot across the street) were glaring at me. They started calling me a faggot, as they followed me to a bus stop I was headed towards.

Suddenly a beer bottle was thrown at me, and since there was no bus in sight (it was close to 1 A.M.), I figured I'd better make a run for it.  They continued to throw bottles at me (and call me names), as they chased me for at least four blocks. One of the bottles struck my head, and blood began to drip all over the front of my shirt.

I decided to run down an alley, and noticed an open back gate to somebody's house. I dashed into the yard, and hid under the porch. I could still hear the dudes shouting in the distance, and I was certain I was going to die. I was trembling and dizzy as hell, but managed to hide under the porch until dawn. I figured it was finally safe to come out, so I left the yard, walked to the bus stop I'd originally been headed towards, and sat on a bench. It took the bus ten minutes to arrive, and it seemed like the longest ten minutes of my life. But once I was on the bus, I felt like I just might survive. At least I was no longer alone. I did not report what had happened to me, and I still have a small scar as a reminder. I never went back to that bar again.

I wonder how often this sort of thing happens, and goes unreported? Since I never got a good look at any of the crazy dudes, I felt it would be pointless to go to the police. I was just grateful to have survived. But I suspect this kind of hate crime is more common than is known. I wrote a poem about Matthew Shepard, after I found this haunting photograph of him on the internet. I don't know who the photographer is, but I am forever grateful. Matthew seems at peace with the world. Plus he's still wearing his shoes. This fact becomes heartbreaking, because Matthew would ultimately be robbed of his shoes and his young life.


Alone, dying, and tied to a fence
Robbed of your money and life
By your new gay friends
Not a husband, but a wife

Is what they dreamed of most
So they tricked you into the truck
Beat you bloody with a gun
Was it just a bit of bad luck

That made you trust a pair of
Straight liars? Or was it
Something more like love
Their deceptive smiles and

Macho ways: just a trap to
Lure you to your death
They hated gays, and liked to
Brag - long after your final breath

They seemed so earnest and friendly
What did you have to lose
Your mother and father and future
Your pair of expensive shoes

Poem © 2009 by Dylan Mitchell

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