Before October 6, 1998, Judy Shepard was an average woman. Then her average 21-year-old son was savagely attacked, tied to a fence post, and beaten into a coma. Matthew Shepard died October 12. Judy became not just a bereaved mom but co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and one of the most influential activists for LGBT rights our world has ever seen.
2009 brought bittersweet milestones for the Shepards: President Obama signed The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding federal protection to persons targeted due to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. (As our Vice President might have said, a big fucking deal -- and in a good way.) In September, Hudson Street Press published The Meaning of Matthew: My Sons Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. At the event, Shepard will speak and sign her book.