Posts Tagged ‘Judy Shepard’

Random Friday Thoughts — October 18, 2013

It’s been a hectic week since I celebrated my birthday last weekend and this weekend is going to be another crazy one.

After work this morning, we’re off to Chicago for my annual physical and then this evening, we take off for Zurich, Switzerland.

We’ll be there for about 24 hours and then fly to Budapest, Hungary.  Originally, that’s where we were going to board our “Sound of Music” Danube River cruise of Europe to celebrate Ray’s 50th birthday.  But, there is a mechanical problem at a dam and the cruise ship cannot get to Budapest.  We now have to take a two-hour bus ride and embark on the cruise in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Sound of Music Cruise

If you missed the details of the trip, here’s the blog I wrote about it back in August:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/plans-for-a-milestone-birthday/

Here are my random thoughts for the week!  Enjoy your weekend!

HOBBY LOBBY ISN’T VERY HOLLY JOLLY!

It’s not even Halloween yet, so many of you might not be thinking of decorating for Christmas.  But, if you are, you can find anything you want for the holidays at Hobby Lobby!

Hobby Lobby

That is, unless you celebrate Hanukkah!

The chain of more than 550 stores nationwide is owned by conservative billionaire Steve Green and it seems that Hobby Lobby refused to carry Hanukkah items like paper dreidels, menorah-making kits, or greeting cards because of Green’s “Christian values”.

hobby-lobby-jewish-hanukkah-goods

New Jersey blogger Ken Berwitz made this public in late September.  He even quoted a Hobby Lobby employee telling a woman asking about bar mitzvah cards, “We don’t cater to you people”.

The company then responded to Religion News Service, “Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Our customers have brought this to our attention and we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future.”

Steve Green

After the uproar, it now appears that things will change at some Hobby Lobby stores.  Green issued this statement, “We do not have any problems selling items that celebrate Jewish holidays.  We have in the past and have decided we would try it again in some of the markets where we have Jewish population.”

A group that fights anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League, accepts Green’s apology.  The group says, “We are satisfied with the apology of Hobby Lobby and appreciate the company’s efforts to investigate the incident and to ensure that it does not happen again.”

TORN ABOUT ELTON JOHN’S DECISION

Weeks ago, Cher declined an invitation to play at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, because of the country’s anti-gay laws it implemented this past summer.

Boycott Sochi 2014

However, Elton John refused to cancel his early December shows in Kazan and Moscow stating, “I’m aware of the situation and I will be diplomatic. I’m not going to go into Russia and tell [Vladimir Putin] to go to hell and things like that. That’s not the way things are done. You chip away at something, and you hope there will be dialogue and that the situation can get better. You don’t just go in there with guns blazing and say, ‘Well, to hell with you.’ Because they’re going to say, ‘To hell with you, and get out of the country.’ That’s not going to solve anything.”

las-vegas-shows-elton-john

I understand that Elton playing those two shows will raise awareness of the deplorable laws that are in place to target Russia’s LGBT community.  But, it’s an uphill battle since those laws and documented cases of violence toward gays are supported not only by Russian officials, but a large portion of the Russian population.

This Pew Research survey came out two months ago.

Anti-Gay Russia

When Madonna and Lady Gaga played shows in Russia, they spoke out against the country’s barbaric attitudes to Russia’s LGBT community and faced fines and jail time.

There’s a part of me that wants Elton to go there and speak up and say “screw you”!  However, I’ll be appalled if he performs and takes the money without making a stand for equality and progress.

…BUT SOME AREN’T TORN ABOUT ELTON PLAYING THERE

Seidzhagfar Lutfullin, a conservative imam from Russia’s predominantly Muslim Tartarstan region, wants the concerts cancelled.

He thinks by allowing Elton to play that God could rain destruction on Russia as act of revenge because “sodomy…is what the world famous homosexual Elton John, (sic) who recently wed a man in public, is promoting.”

Other conservative groups want Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the concerts.

Vladimir Putin, Patriarch Kirill

And, a coordinator for the Christian group Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods says, “The statement by this gay guy – Elton John – about his support for gays and other perverts during the upcoming concert in Moscow is an insult to all Russian citizens.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Right

Confusing Wine SelectionHappy Hour

SERIOUSLY, LIGHTEN UP!

I admit that I’m a very strong supporter for equality and I’ll be the first to stand up to someone being anti-gay or derogatory.

However, I think that people can be a little oversensitive and try to find things to be upset about.

I love Britney Spears!  I did fifteen years ago when “…Baby One More Time” came out and topped the charts.  I was concerned when she had her breakdown and I thought her career was over, but she sure showed me and the rest of the world with “Femme Fatale” and that tour solidified “It’s Britney, Bitch”.

Britney July 2011

Some people think that her use of the word “bitch” is part of her catering to the “gay” audience.  Seriously?  People can’t just enjoy the music and not think that it’s “too gay”.  Do you think that Madonna, Lady Gaga, or Cher sits around and wonders if they cater to a certain demographic?  They know who still lines their pockets with gold!

Recently, Britney told a DJ, “A lot of my hair stylists and my beauty team that I work with are gay so I hang out with gays a lot and I just think they’re adorable and hilarious.”  And, then some gay bloggers took issue with her choice of words.

Let me say that if anyone ever want to call me “adorable and hilarious”, I’m okay with it!

Get a life, Mary!  Wait, maybe I shouldn’t refer to a man as “Mary”!  Well, here’s a little Britney with a “rock & roll” edge.  It doesn’t sound that “gay”, does it? 🙂

“THE MEANING OF MATTHEW”

It was 15 years ago last week that 21-year-old Matt Shepard died from injuries after being relentlessly beaten and tied to a wooden fence in Laramie, Wyoming.

After starting the Matthew Shepard Foundation with her husband, Dennis, and their son, Logan, Judy Shepard released her book, “The Meaning of Matthew:  My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed”, in 2009.  I just got around to reading it and it’s fantastic.

The Meaning of Matthew

While we’ve read the tragic headlines and seen the pictures of Matthew and his killers splashed across the news, this book lets us know who Matt was from the people who knew him.

Judy said it best in the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, “You know him as Matthew.  To us he was Matt.  I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages.  It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew’s story was told.  Matt was so much more than “Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.”  He had a family and countless friends.  He had a life before the night he was tied to that fence.”

I only have one small complaint about the book —  no pictures of the Matt that the Shepard family remembers.  Judy talks about Matt dressing as Dolly Parton twice as a child and I would have loved to see that photo.

But, that’s minor!  Check out this book because it’s phenomenal.

“BATES MOTEL”

While we await the arrival of the final season of “Dexter” on DVD (November 12th), Ray and I checked out the first season of A&E’s “Bates Motel”.

The 10-episode thriller focuses on the lives of a young Normal Bates (“Psycho”) and his very alive mother as they start a new life in a small Oregon town and manage their new business, the infamous Bates Motel.

Bates-Motel-Title

Freddie Highmore (“Toast”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and “Five Children and It”) is creepy and enchanting as 17-year-old Norman Bates.

Max Thieriot and Mike Vogel (“Under The Dome” and “Cloverfield”) smolder on the screen as Norma Bates’ son, Dylan, and her lover, Deputy Shelby, respectively.

Max Thieriotbates-motel-trust-me-vera-farmiga

But, let’s talk about the real star of “Bates Motel”, Vera Farmiga, who was nominated for an Emmy for her performance of Norma Bates.  (She was also nominated for an Oscar for 2009’s “Up In The Air”.)

Farmiga is electrifying from the first moment we see her and she is totally captivating in every scene.  Regardless of the scene she’s in, whether it’s violent, sad, or happy, you can’t take your eyes away from her!

)Norma Norman

I want a one-way ticket to this crazy-town.

And, a final note.  The first episode of the series features W. Earl Brown, as Keith Summers, the former owner of the Bates Motel, known then as the Seafairer Motel.

W Earl Brown Keith Summers

Earl is from western Kentucky and we were in the Radio-Television department together at Murray State University and I was one of two actors in a one-act play he directed back in the early-1980s!

He’s also starred in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Scream”, and HBO’s “Deadwood”.

Way to go, Earl!

NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Except this….

PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

The world first became aware of Ke$ha when she sang back-up on Flo Rida’s #1 hit “Right Round” in 2009.  Later that year, she scored her first solo #1 on her first try with “Tik Tok”.

Kesha

Since then she’s tallied up a total of 13 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Ten of those reached the Top Ten, including another #1 hit, “We R Who We R”.

Pitbull

Pitbull has charted with 18 Top 40 hits on the Hot 100.  Of those, nine have reached the Top Ten.  He topped the chart with “Give Me Everything” with Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer in 2011.

pitbull-kesha

This summer, we drove to Tinley Park, just outside of Chicago, to see Ke$ha and Pitbull in concert.  While they didn’t perform a number together, they must have been working on something behind the scene!

“Timber”, which features Ke$ha, is the first single from Pitbull’s upcoming album.

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

Earlier I featured Britney Spears’ version of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

While Britney’s version hit the Top Ten in Germany and Ireland, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts spent seven weeks at the top of the chart with the song in 1982 here in the U.S.

Jett scored eight other hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40, but only two of them reached the Top Ten — “Crimson and Clover” (#7, 1982) and “I Hate Myself For Loving You” (#8, 1988).

That’s it for today.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

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You Will Never Be Forgotten

It’s hard to believe it was 15 years ago this week that most of the country and the world first heard the name, Matthew Shepard.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of his death in a Fort Collins, Colorado, hospital after being savagely and brutally beaten five nights earlier in Laramie, Wyoming.

I’m now reading “The Meaning of Matthew:  My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed” (2009) written by Matt’s mother, Judy Shepard.

meaning_of_matthew_l

In the past, I’ve written in my blog about Matthew and that horrible night that ended his life prematurely.  Today, I want to share a few things from Judy’s book that I’m reading that touched me.  (All rights reserved by Hudson Street Press)

Judy Shepard

“You know him as Matthew.  To us he was Matt.  I have tried to reconcile the two within these pages.  It would be unfair to Matt if only Matthew’s story was told.  Matt was so much more than “Matthew Shepard, the gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming college student.”  He had a family and countless friends.  He had a life before the night he was tied to that fence.” (Author’s Note by Judy Shepard)

Candlelight Vigil

As candlelight vigils popped up across the country, the Shepard family spent their time focusing on their son, Matt, who was lying in a coma and would never regain consciousness.  Once the ventilator tubes were removed, Matt died in the early morning hours of Monday, October 12, 1998.

Rulon Stacey

About three hours after Matt died, Rulon Stacey, the CEO at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, informed the world that was praying for Matt that he was gone.

“At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside… He came into the world premature and he left the world premature.  Matthew’s mother said, ‘Go home, give your kids a hug, and don’t let a day go by without telling them you love them.’  Matthew’s family is so grateful that his last words to them were, ‘I love you.'” 

Sadly, there are Matt Shepards out there right now being attacked verbally and physically every day for being gay.  Like Matt, some will die.  But, many will survive and live every day of their lives wondering how some in the world can be so cruel.

As I remember Matt and think of Judy, her husband, Dennis, and their other son, Logan, I want to share what  Judy and Dennis said about Matt in their first press conference through Stacey on October 10, 1998.

“His [Matt] one intolerance is when people don’t accept others as they are.  He has always strongly felt that all people are the same — regardless of their sexual preference, race, or religion.  We know he believes that all of us are part of the same family called humanity, and each and every one of us should treat all people with respect and dignity, and each of us has the right to live a full and rewarding life.  This is one lesson which we are very certain he would share with you, if he could.”

Matthew Shepard

Anthony

A Sad & Senseless Way to Die

Pumpkins, corn stalks, and scarecrows are common autumn and Halloween decorations this time of the year.  Fourteen years ago this afternoon, a passing cyclist saw what he thought was a scarecrow on this Laramie, Wyoming fence.

It wasn’t a scarecrow.  It was the frail, comatose body of 21-year-old University of  Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

Matthew had been robbed, pistol-whipped, tied to the fence for 18 hours, and left to die in 30° Wyoming weather.  When he was found, he had fractures to the back of his head and to the front of his right ear.  Matthew had brain stem damage so severe that doctors could not operate.  He had a dozen or so cuts on his head, face, and neck.

Matthew never regained consciousness and was on full life support for days until he died in the early morning hours of October 12, 1998.

On the evening of October 6, 1998, Matthew was at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming, when he met Aaron McKinney (right) and Russell Henderson (left).

While drinking that evening, the two men came up with a plan to give Matthew a ride home and rob him.  Kristen Price, girlfriend of McKinney, later testified that Henderson and McKinney “pretended they were gay to get [Shepard] in the truck and rob him.”

In the trial, the two men claimed that Matthew came on to them and they panicked and that’s when the crime moved from robbery to homicide.  Media reports claim that Matthew was beaten so severely that when he was found, his face was covered in blood except where his tears partially washed away the blood.

Henderson (above) pleaded guilty in April 1999 and agreed to testify against McKinney to avoid the death penalty.  He is now serving two consecutive life sentences.

McKinney was found guilty by a jury of felony murder.  While the jury was deliberating the death penalty, Matthew’s parents negotiated a deal that would keep him from being put to death.  In return, he would serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, have worked tirelessly to bring “hate crimes” front and center in America.  In December 1998, they established the “Matthew Shepard Foundation” that supports diversity and tolerance in youth organizations.

Three years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed “The Matthew Shepard Act” into law, which added crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability to the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law.

Today, tomorrow, the next day, and every day after that, my heart goes out to Judy and Dennis Shepard and every parent that has watched their son or daughter die at the hands of some ignorant person or persons that were not man or woman enough to love their fellow-man or leave them well enough alone.

Matthew, on December 1, 2012, you should have been celebrating your 36th birthday.  You should have had a chance to love and be in love, to be a parent, or to be anything you wanted to be.

I’m so sorry that the last thing you saw before you slipped into a coma was the darkness around Laramie, Wyoming that night or the sun rising that morning tied to a fence and left for dead.

Your courage to be you may have cost you your life, but you will not be forgotten and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you’re not forgotten.

Anthony