My good friend Wendy emails me on a regular basis, mostly her emails are an explosion of madness, of scatter-gun phrases mixed with terrifying political truths; a typical one goes a bit like this:
"Do you recall Wolverhampton? Glorious days. It's amazing what can be achieved with a megaphone and a jar of swarfega. They won't see me now, of course. They've never gotten over my bottom. I was paralytic. But you couldn't say it now. Not any more. Those days are gone. Long gone. My notices are dreadful. They liken me to an ostrich with projectile diarrhea. Kind words I fear. Churchill wasn't black. Fuck you. Winnie Mandela x"
You get the picture?
But then a few hours ago she sent me one about the story of Matthew Shepard and it blew my mind, here is an excerpt from the email and if you don't know about this young man, click on the link and discover more...
Matthew Sheperd was 21. He died on Monday 12th October 1998 due to severe injuries from a brutal beating and torture. He was found tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere. He was so badly beaten that the man who found him first thought he was a scarecrow. His face was caked in blood, except for the clean lines where his tears had fallen. He was suffering from severe hypothermia, as he wasn't discovered for 18 hours after he was beaten. He clung onto life for six days. His killers had gone into a bar where he was drinking, and posed as gay to lure him away with them. They took him into the back of beyond and brutally murdered him. Here is some of what his Dad had to say in court:
"My son. A gentle, caring soul. Proved that he was as tough as, if not tougher than, anyone I have ever heard of or known. On October the 6th 1998, my son tried to show the world that he could win again. On October 12th 1998, my first born son, and my hero, lost. He died 50 days before his 22nd birthday. He died quietly, surrounded by his family and friends, with his mother and brother holding his hands.
My son actually died on the outskirts of Laramie, tied to a fence, when you beat him. You. Mr McKinney. With your friend Mr Henderson. You killed my son. By the end of that beating, his body was just trying to survive. You left him out there, all by himself. But he wasn't alone. There were lifelong friends with him. Friends that he had grown up with. He had the beautiful night sky, with the same moon and stars that we used to look at together, through a telescope, when he was a kid. Then he had the sun to shine on him one more time. And the cool wonderful Autumn breeze. And through it all, he was breathing in for the last time the scent of the Wyoming pine trees. I feel better knowing he wasn't alone.
Matt's beating, hospitalisation and funeral have focused worldwide attention on hate. Good is coming out of evil. People have said 'Enough is enough' You screwed up Mr McKinney. You made the world realise that a persons lifestyle is not a reason for discrimination, intolerance, persecution or violence. This is not Nazi Germany. My son died because of your ignorance and intolerance. I can't bring him back. But I can do my best to see that this never ever happens to another person, or another family again. My son has become a symbol against hate and people like you. A symbol for encouraging respect and individuality. For appreciating that somebody is different.
I miss my son. But I am so proud to say that he is my son. I would like nothing better than to see you die Mr McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. To use this as the first step in my own closure about losing Matt. Mr McKinney, I am going to grant you life. As hard as that is for me to do, but because of Matthew. You robbed me of something very precious, and I will never forgive you for that Mr McKinney. I give you life in memory of one who no longer lives. May you have a long life. And may you thank Matthew every day for it."