John M. Becker

Matthew Shepard's Parents Headed to Russia

Filed By John M. Becker | November 21, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Dennis Shepard, film festival, Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard, Michele Josue, Russia, St. Petersburg

matt-shepard-friend-of-mine-film.pngJudy and Dennis Shepard, LGBT civil rights activists and the parents of slain gay hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, are traveling to the notoriously homophobic country of Russia today to advocate for LGBT acceptance and tolerance. The AP reports:

The centerpiece of their five-day trip is a gay film festival in St. Petersburg at which the documentary film, "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine" will be shown and discussed. The film's director, Michele Josue, a high school classmate and close friend of Matthew's, will be accompanying the Shepards on the trip.

The Shepards also will visit Moscow, and are hoping to meet with Russian parents who have gay or lesbian children.

"This is about families loving their kids, no matter who they are," Judy Shepard said Thursday. "If families would recognize that, everyone else would recognize it."

Josue and the Shepards say they've been warned that they and fellow film festival attendees could be monitored by authorities and that disruptions could occur. They hope that telling their story will inspire festivalgoers, but Dennis says they know that real, substantive change in that country will take time.

"Putin has made it so unhealthy to be LGBT or an ally," Shepard told the AP. "It will take at least a generation to clean up the mess he's made and get some acceptance."

For more information about Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, click here.

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