Matthew Shepard’s remains will be laid to rest at DC’s National Cathedral

WASHINGTON — Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a college student murdered in a hate crime outside Laramie, Wyoming. It was an exceptionally shocking attack that spotlighted the threats shadowing the LGBTQ community.

Later this month, the 21-year-old’s remains will be laid to rest at Washington National Cathedral. His ashes will be interred following a public service “of thanksgiving and remembrance” 10 a.m. Oct. 26. (The interment will be private.)

“We’ve given much thought to Matt’s final resting place, and we found the Washington National Cathedral is an ideal choice, as Matt loved the Episcopal church and felt welcomed by his church in Wyoming,” said his mother, Judy, in a statement.

“For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world. It’s reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world.”

Only about 200 people have been interred at the cathedral in the last century. Shepard will be laid to rest near other historical figures, such as Helen Keller, Navy Adm. George Dewey and President Woodrow Wilson.

Presiding over the service will be the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal bishop of Washington, and the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who is the first openly gay priest to be consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. The cathedral hosted its first same-sex wedding in 2010, and welcomed its first transgender preacher, the Rev. Cameron Partridge, to the pulpit four years later.

On Oct. 7, 1998, Shepard, who was gay, was beaten and tortured in a rural area by two men he had met at a Laramie bar. He was then tied to a fence and abandoned. Shepard died five days later at a Colorado hospital.

“Matthew Shepard’s death is an enduring tragedy affecting all people and should serve as an ongoing call to the nation to reject anti-LGBTQ bigotry and instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, in a statement.

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