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Shepard march marks 10 years

by Amy Wooten

2008-10-01 - Windy City Times - LINK

This year's 10th annual Matthew Shepard March for LGBT Freedom stressed that in the decade since the brutal hate crime that killed a young gay man in Wyoming, anti-gay hatred and violence is still rampant.

Wayne Besen spoke Saturday. Photo by Amy Wooten.

This marcher was one of many who participated Saturday. Photo by Amy Wooten.

About Face Theatre will hold a benefit reading of The Laramie Project, which deals with reactions to the murder of Matthew Shepard ( above ) .

'A lot of people think that a hate crime is just something that happened 10 years ago in the state of Wyoming,' said Gay Liberation Network co-founder Andy Thayer at a rally before the march down the streets of Lakeview. 'Gay-bashing is something that is alive and well, even in the city of Chicago.'

Those present stressed that although LGBT people have taken some steps forward, not much has changed in terms of anti-gay violence and hatred.

The event's keynote speaker, Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen, pointed out the continued presence of homophobia. An example, he said, is the Chicago-based Museum of Broadcast Communications' decision to honor Focus on the Family's James Dobson this fall.

During the rally, Besen encouraged those present to join a Nov. 8 protest against the Musuem of Broadcast Communications. He also announced the launch of a new Web site, www.DumpDobson.com , that will contain information and a petition calling for the museum to stop their plans to honor Dobson.

Besen also stressed that hate crimes happen every day, and they don't just impact the victims, but the entire LGBT community. Hate crimes keep the LGBT community fearful, Besen said, and keep us from doing everyday things such as holding our partner's hand while riding on public transportation.

'These are the day to day indignities we face as a community,' Besen said. 'They affect us every single day.'

Other featured speakers included Radio Arte's Tania Unzueta and national lecturer Greg Baird, both of whom encouraged the crowd to talk with each other and other communities in order to better understand the issues impacting the LGBT community as a whole, from immigration to gay-bashing.

'Unplug your iPod once in a while and have a conversation with somebody,' Baird said. 'You'll be amazed at what you will hear.'


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