Cathedral to Host Unveiling of Matthew Shepard Portrait
WASHINGTON – Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime, will be honored at Washington National Cathedral with the dedication of a newly commissioned devotional portrait by artist Kelly Latimore and commissioned by LGBTQ members of the Cathedral staff. The work is the only artistic image of Matthew composed in collaboration with the Shepard family.
The Cathedral will host a media preview of the piece on November 30 at 10:30 a.m. ET, where Dennis and Judy Shepard will be present to discuss the painting. Media interested in attending should RSVP to Eleanor Donohue.
The portrait dedication caps a day-long series of events to celebrate Matthew’s life on what would have been his 46th birthday. The events are co-sponsored with the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
“The horrific murders at Club Q in Colorado Springs are a tragic reminder that our LGBTQ friends and family continue to be targeted for who they love, and Matthew Shepard’s legacy reminds us of the urgency to confront bigotry and embrace people of all backgrounds, gender identities and sexual orientations, said The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “We hope the Cathedral continues to be a sacred space that offers support and strength for all who visit.”
On December 1, the Cathedral will host an online service of Morning Prayer at 7 a.m. ET to celebrate and recall Matthew Shepard’s life. The service will be led by the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay priest to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church. The online service will be available on the Cathedral’s YouTube page.
The Cathedral will welcome visitors to St. Joseph’s Chapel from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET, where the portrait will be on display. Dennis and Judy Shepard, Matthew’s parents, will be at the Cathedral to meet visitors.
Later that evening, at 7 p.m. ET, the portrait will be dedicated in a service in the Cathedral’s crypt, titled “Remember, Reflect, Resolve”, near the site where Shepard’s ashes were interred in 2018, 20 years after his death.
Matthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998) was a gay student at the University of Wyoming when he was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, WY, and left to die. Five days later, he succumbed to his injuries at the age of 21. His death shocked the conscience of the nation and electrified the LGBTQ movement. In 2009, the Matthew Shepard Foundation was instrumental in the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first federal hate crime statue to expand the protected classes to include a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. His final resting place is marked with a plaque in St. Joseph’s Chapel, dedicated in December 2019.
A longtime supporter of the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the church, the Cathedral considers LGBTQ equality one of the great civil rights issues of the 21st century. The Cathedral hosted its first same-sex wedding in 2010 and welcomed its first transgender preacher to the Canterbury Pulpit in 2014.
Eleanor Donohue, 202-704-5840, [email protected]
About Washington National Cathedral
Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.
About the Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Matthew Shepard Foundation amplifies the story of Matthew to inspire individuals, organizations and communities to embrace the dignity and equality of all people. Through local, regional and national outreach, we empower individuals to find their voice to create change and challenge communities to identify and address hate that lives within their schools, neighborhoods and homes.
Our work is an extension of Matt’s passion to foster a more caring and just world. We share his story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are. (www.matthewshepard.org)