“We don’t take offense to gays, we take gays to a fence.”
This has been my narrative being queer and growing up in Wyoming for 20 years. This has also been the reminder of what it means to live out and proud in Wyoming.
The passing of Matthew Shepard cast Wyoming into a spotlight that does not reign true to our nickname — all groups want equality, but our equality has since been in the spotlight. Ask our community if things have “gotten better” since the murder of Matthew, the answers you receive vary from county to county. Meeting me, living in Wyoming and being queer, you might think that I am afraid — and I am.
I am afraid for the gal that has to call the police to report domestic violence whose “gender marker” is M. I’m afraid for the kid who lost all his family in a matter of days because he likes boys instead of girls. I’m afraid that a high school student who has been bullied for so long thinks that the only way out is suicide. I’m afraid for the portion of our community that thinks the only way out of their sadness is through drugs and alcohol. I’m afraid my partner will never get to hold my hand in public because I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them.
I’m afraid that my state will never understand that we don’t want anything more, we just want to be able to work, live and be our authentic selves without persecution.
In the world we live in it seems that we are living in a constant rotating state of fear and hope. As a society, we need to know that there is still hope and that what happens today will make tomorrow that much brighter.
I’m hopeful because of the great work all the organizations in Wyoming do. I am hopeful for the same-sex couples that get to dance on stage. I am hopeful for the guy that just got his first testosterone shot and wants to shout it from the rooftops.
I’m hopeful for the guardians, mentors, families, churches that open their arms with love, instead of crossing them with hate. I am hopeful that the work being done now is making it so the next person that walks a similar path to mine never has to feel the fear — or at the very least, knows that they have a community that supports them.
I love Wyoming dearly, but there is so much more that needs to happen. We have the moral obligation to make sure that a tragedy like this never happens again and that everyone in our community is protected. We are so far from where we came from, but we are still so far from where we need to be—but every day, we get closer. And we need your help.
Several groups throughout Wyoming are here to protect, educate and include the community. We have to thank them for the work that they do, and the best way to thank them is to offer your help. We need to remember the sadness that came with the murder of Matthew Shepard, but we need to feel the strength of a community bound by love instead of hate.