Recognizing the Past: Growing into the Future

“The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s longstanding mission is to erase hate by replacing it with understanding, compassion and acceptance. 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, neighbourhoods and homes.”

– Matthew Shepard Foundation

 

In early 2018, The Airdrie Pride Society was grateful to receive a message from the Nose Creek Players informing us of their plans to bring the production of the Laramie Project to Airdrie.  From the beginning, the group was passionate about including the LGBTQ2+ community in Airdrie and ensuring that in some way we were part of it. Needless to say, we immediately jumped on board, and we’re excited to do anything to support bringing this production to our hometown.  

 

For those that may be unfamiliar, The Laramie Project is a play that debuted in 2000 and recounts the story of the reaction of the town, Laramie, Wyoming, after the heartbreaking beating, torture and murder of Matthew Shepard on October 12, 1998.  Matthew was an openly gay student attending the University of Wyoming, and his life was senselessly taken because of hateful anti-gay sentiment. Matthew Shepard’s murder provided a catalyst at both national and international levels and highlighted the lack of legislation for hate crimes against LGBTQ2+ people.  Momentum from the tragic loss of Matthew Shepard led to President Barack Obama signing the Matthew Shepard Act in 2009. This critical piece of legislation expanded the previous protection to include the victims actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

 

I cannot take in the story of Matthew Shepard without feeling incredibly emotional.  This is not a fictional story. This was a real person, a young man with an entire life ahead of him that was cut short because of violent hate for him being the person he was meant to be.  I am guessing regardless of how you identify, learning about such a senseless and horrific loss of life is painful to learn which could leave some reluctant to attend the show. With that said, I wanted to take a minute to share some perspective on why it is so important to go see this production.  

 

For me, I strongly believe that our past shapes the present and the future in front of all of us will be shaped by all that is now.  Therefore, in order to ensure that we are continually striving for more understanding, more inclusivity and simply being more human to all of those people that surround us every day, it is imperative to understand, remember and grow in a positive way from tragedies like this.  It is essential that we don’t let this young man’s sacrifice go unnoticed but instead use it as a catalyst to recognize, challenge and attack hate in our own communities. It is vital to appreciate that while there has been much progress in the twenty years since losing Matthew Shepard, stereotypes, challenges and barriers still exists for LGBTQ2+ people today.  I am confident that learning about Matthew Shepard’s story will fill each one of us with energy and emotion which can then be poured into influencing positive change in our own community.

 

Airdrie Pride will be on site and available for each show if you have questions, need support, or just want to come to say hi.  Additionally, to help educate and bring awareness within our community, on November 17, 2018, Airdrie Pride is honoured to be hosting a special panel discussion made up of  LGBTQ2+ and allies in Airdrie. Throughout the ninety minute panel, we will discuss the importance of Matthew Shepard’s story, its significance in our community and help to provide some grounding on the authentic experiences of the LGBTQ2+ individuals in Airdrie today.  Airdrie Pride feels strongly that it is important always to ensure we teach, learn and validate the past and the sacrifices that were made while also leaving the audience with hope that our world has gotten better. We see no better way to do this than talking to those that walk this road every day in our community.

 

We would love to see all of you there to support an important and wonderful production put on by the Nose Creek Players!

 

Hope to see you there!

 

~Kiersten

(she/her)

 

To purchase tickets:

 https://bertchurchlivetheatre.ticketpro.ca/?lang=en&aff=bct#def_1301869201

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this play contains mature subject matter

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