Some of Matthew Shepard’s personal objects, including child-sized Superman cape, photographs, correspondence and notebooks, will be donated by his parents to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. next week.
Shepard, 21, was a gay college student who was murdered in October 1998s in Laramie, Wyoming. Shepard died of severe injuries he received following the vicious attack. His killing shined a national spotlight on attacks and murders against the LGBTQ community.
“For 20 years, we have tried to share the meaning of our son’s life, as well as his dreams for a kinder, more accepting and loving world,” Judy Shepard said in a statement. “While we always have our family memories, it is deeply comforting to know the Smithsonian will preserve his story and meaning for future generations. We cannot think of a better way to honor Matt’s life and legacy.”
Dennis and Judy Shepard will be at National Museum of American History Thursday for the event.
The donated material will represent their son’s everyday life, from elementary school to college, as a participant in theater productions and as an international traveler. The collection also will include condolence cards and correspondence the Shepards received following Matthew’s murder.
Other items will include theater scripts, sandals, a wedding ring, and purple ribbon award.
Shepard, who was born Dec. 1, 1976 in Casper, Wyoming, spent his childhood and teenage years in Casper and participated in various local theatrical productions. In his junior year of high school, the family moved to Saudi Arabia for his father’s new job.
Shepard returned to the United States after graduating from The American School in Switzerland and lived in North Carolina and Colorado before attending the University of Wyoming during the 1998-1999 school year.
During the Smithsonian event ceremony, students from George Mason University’s School of Theater will perform excerpts from “The Laramie Project” by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project.
Materials from the National Museum of American History’s LGBTQ collections date to the 19th century. Objects in the collections include a selection of protest signs from gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny, Billie Jean King’s tennis dress, the first transgender pride flag, and HIV- and AIDS-related lab equipment and medications.