NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – It was a high profile murder in Wyoming that sparked a national movement for gay rights. College student Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in 1998 for being gay.
A biopic was made and anti hate crime legislation has since been passed.
But more than 15 years later, a documentary is making waves entitled “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine”. At the helm is a Filipina Michele Josue, who was close to the young man at the center.
“I think we have a great opportunity so many years later to teach a young generation about Matt’s story for the very first time,” Josue said. “I wish we never had to make this film, and I wish Matt was still with us.”
Josue was one of the late Shepard’s friends. The two met as high school students at a boarding school in Switzerland.
“We became close friends through the theater and he was just a wonderful kind person and he really taught me a lot about what it means to be a good friend and a good person,” recalled Josue.
In the film, which has won several awards on the festival circuit, Josue follows Shepard’s footsteps from Wyoming to Switzerland, using home videos, letters written to classmates, and news archives.
“It just took me this amount of time to feel emotionally prepared to embark on a project of this magnitude. I was only 19 when Matt died and it was incredibly devastating as a friend; for all of us. It was kind of the first time I saw how cruel the world could be,” explained Josue.
Josue, along with Matt’s family will continue touring the film throughout the US. It will also hit television on the Logo Channel, CBS’ channel which focuses on the LGBTQ community.