February 10, 2007

Shepard: "Stand Up and Be Counted"

That was the message Matthew Shepard's mother conveyed recently during a speech at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

Shortly after her son’s death, Mrs. Shepard went on the speaking circuit to promote the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which promotes gay and lesbian equality, draws attention to the existence of hate crimes and addresses other issues of social justice.

“I know Matt would be very disappointed in me if I gave up,” she said. “He would be very disappointed in all of us if we gave up.”

The teenage suicide rate, she said, “is through the roof.” And for teenagers perceived to be gay, lesbian or bisexual, she said, the rate skyrockets.

"As a society, it says we are a bunch of bigots,” she said. “Maybe we are.”

Mrs. Shepard said at the least it is symptomatic of what she called a “SIC” society — “silent, indifferent, complacent.”

That last sentence brings up a very important point. There are a lot of people we've all run across that feel the approach of "live and let live" is sufficient support for the GLBT community. It's not. By sitting on the sidelines, we can allow the bigots to rule the day and prevent equality for our gay and lesbian sisters.

It's not enough to say, "gay is ok," we need to stand up and have our voices heard for the cause of seeing the GLBT community have their rightful place as equal members of our society.

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