The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project was a play that was developed to inform the public about what really occurred to Matthew Shepard on the nights of TheLaramieProjectOctober 6-7, 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming.  Shepard was brutally beaten because he was a homosexual.  He suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear due to being pistol whipped.  As a result, he suffered severe brain damage.  After his beating, he was tied to a fence in a remote, rural area of Laramie, Wyoming, and left to die.  After 18 hours of being left in the cold, he was discovered by Aaron Kreifels, who mistakenly assumed he was a scarecrow.  Shepard was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1988 at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.

After going to see this play at the UMKC Performing Arts Center last weekend, I was really saddened to learn what happened to this young man.  It is mind-boggling to know that individuals in today’s society are being discriminated against and tortured because of their sexual orientation.  The death of Matthew Shepard was tragic, but hopefully, it will be a reality check to all people that violent acts of discrimination are happening and society must not allow them to continue.  Just recently, on October 28, 2009, President Barrak Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), giving the Department of Justice (DOJ) the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated, violent crimes perpetrated against victims because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.  This is the step in the right direction to eliminating all types of hate and discrimination and I applaud President Obama for doing this.  Hopefully, someday we will live in a world where everyone will be treated with respect and consideration despite the color of their skin, their physical ability, where they come from, how they worship, or who they choose to love. 

As for the UMKC production of the Laramie Project, it was very well done. The actors were very convincing and the production was highly professional. I was captivated from beginning to end.  Unfortunately the play has closed at UMKC, but I recommend that everyone go see the play when they get a chance.  It is a life-changing experience.


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