We lost Matthew 18 years ago yesterday. Lest we forget, his story is sadly just one of many within the LGBTQ+ community (a "family" of sorts) that has historically suffered through a long history of being dehumanized, marginalized, and murdered simply for being themselves. Words cannot express how completely heartbreaking it is and I hope for a day where there will be no more of these tragedies to tell.
Losing a loved one is something no one ever gets over. Not completely. Not really. Matthew has living relatives who will always be affected by his death and will continue to feel his loss for the remainder of their lives. When a person passes away from natural causes, we grieve and feel sorrow, but there is nothing as numbing or life-altering as knowing a person who was murdered. While it is evidently difficult to find a silver lining with a tragedy such as this, sometimes something good (or rather, necessary) can come from it. For Matthew, his story has become one of the most poignant documentaries in recent history.
A Documentary Everyone Should See
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is a biographical documentary that delves into Matthew's short life as well as the lives of his friends and family who were so deeply affected by his murder. All too often, we see the victim overshadowed in news outlets as the media shifts its focus to catching the killer. Then it's suddenly all about the trial and the murderer finds themselves the center of attention. With every infamous crime, the person on trial becomes a household name as much as the victim, maybe even more so. Where is the justice in that?
What makes this film stand out is that it never lets you forget who suffered through this horrendous crime. Audiences can only imagine the emotions that his relatives and friends went through in the wake of his death. However, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine also finds a brilliant balance of depicting how those affected by this crime dealt with it, moved through it, and found the strength to carry on while also carrying on his name.
No film is more poignant or relevant to the history of LGBT folks in America than 'Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine.' — The Plain Dealer
I shouldn't have to throw around ratings when it comes to a film dealing with the real-life death of a human being. However, if you take critics' thoughts into consideration, especially with true crime documentaries, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 4/4 from RogerEbert.com. Anyone who has seen the movie will no doubt stand by those ratings. Check it out for yourself and give Matthew's story the attention it so sorely deserves.
Stream it on Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, & Vudu.
He was a son, brother, friend. A 21-year-old gay man. A human being. May we never forget Matt Shepard. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Rest in peace.
Have you seen this documentary? Do you think it was a step forward for the friends and family of Matthew Shepard?