The Laramie Project

Oct 2014

The Howard County Center for the Art

8510 Highridge Rd Ellicott City, MD

A powerful play created by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project examining the impact of a violent hate crime, the beating death of Matthew Shepard on the close-knit community of Laramie, WY.

In the early hours of October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence, pistol whipped, robbed, and left alone to face the cold Wyoming wind. After seventeen hours, he was found and transported to a Colorado hospital where he succumbed to his injuries six days later. Only months before, on June 7, 1998 James Byrd Jr. was chained to the back of a pickup truck and dragged three miles to his death after his body hit a concrete curb. His attackers dumped his battered corpse near a cemetery a mile further down the road. Matthew was attacked because he was gay. James only crime was the color of his skin. Thousands of miles separated them while hate joins them forever in the battle against hatred. On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. It expanded the 1969 United States Federal Hate-Crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

In spite of this far-reaching legislation, hate crimes are still pervasive in our society and their incidence is on the rise throughout the country. The American LGBT community is often the target of hate crimes, and among this group transgendered individuals face an even greater threat.