Laramie Project Reaction
Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was in a local bar in Laramie, Wyoming. There, he met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. According to McKinney, Matthew asked them for a ride home because it was getting late (90). Subsequently, Matthew was robbed, severely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die. The Laramie Project tells this story through interviews of the citizens of Laramie, news and medical reports, and flashbacks of specific moments. Those interviews recounted the memories of a diverse sample of people who affected Matthew’s life in one way or another. I appreciated how varied each of the interviews were, chronologically and in terms of the personality of the interviewees, because it displayed the collective psyche of the community as much as it did the actual crime, which not only gave me a sense of how the tragedy affected those close to Matthew, but the town as a whole. This variety revealed the main theme of this play to be prejudice. Each community member deals with differing levels of prejudice. Characters such as Reverend Fred Phelps embody the extremes of said prejudice. He explains his deep belief that homosexuality is so wrong, God hates it (77-80). I believe Phelps is significant to the play because he encompasses the opposite end of the spectrum that isn’t showing support for Matthew. It made me feel like Phelps was even justifying the murder of Matthew strictly because Matthew was gay. Ultimately, his interview, along with the unique views of the rest of the townspeople, had me contemplating my personal morals and my overall opinion on homosexuality.
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