STATEMENT BY JAMES OSBORN, CHAIR, LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDERED ASSOCIATION, UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

Oct. 12, 1998 -- The following statement was read by James Osborn, chair, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Association (LGBTA) at the University Wyoming during an Oct. 11 candlelight vigil in Laramie for Matthew Shepard. LGBTA is an officially sanctioned organization of the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming.

"First I would like to thank everyone for their attendance here on behalf of the LGBTA. My heart goes out to Matt and to his parents and family. It goes out to each of you as well. This horrific event has injured every one of us who knew and cared about Matt. It has hurt every one who cares about their fellow human beings and denounces hate and violence in any form, whether they knew Matt or not. The flood of telephone calls and E-mail I have received has clearly shown me that people all across the country and even the globe are uniting in a single voice, a voice that is saying the hate and prejudice must stop.

"Your presence here is a great testament to the University, the City of Laramie, and the State of Wyoming. I'm sure many of you have seen the banner that reads "Hate is not a Wyoming value" that is hanging downtown. I think it is very important for people to understand that this is NOT an everyday occurrence. This mentality is not representative of the people of Laramie or Wyoming. The message your presence conveys is clear: we will not tolerate this sort of hate and violence, no matter what the motivation or reason behind it may be. We are all human beings, despite whatever insignificant differences may exist between us. We are here tonight to show our support and love to Matt and his family. We are here to show our love and support to each other.

And we are here to send our love and support to everyone across the nation who has been affected by this tragedy.
"I want to thank the university and the people of the community for their support and caring. You have the made the issue very clear. This is not a Laramie issue. This is not a Wyoming issue. This is not a gay issue. It is a human issue and affects everyone. I would like to use the words of one of Matt's closest friends once again, as they are much more eloquent than I can be in the midst of this situation.

"I feel angry and betrayed by a part of humanity, a part that is cold, cruel, without compassion and acceptance. Matt embraced the opposite. He embraced warmth, love, and peace. We spoke often about the atrocities visited upon humans by fellow humans. In his life he sought to do whatever he could to abolish such hate. That is how he strived to be, with his choice of major in college and his eventual goals for a career in human rights. I grieve actually for all of us who are still living...living with the reality of the hate among us. I have questions. I ask them of myself and all of us as humans. When will we stop the hate? How many more of us must suffer before hate can be replaced with love? When will we all embrace each other in love?"

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