Op-ed: Can You Spare a Minute?

When it comes to honoring the life of the late Matthew Shepard or improving LGBT people's place in society, it's not always about money -- it's about time.



At Left: Author Leslea Newman

Fourteen years have passed since Matthew Shepard was murdered. And while some things have changed (gay marriage is now legal in half a dozen states; "don’t ask, don’t tell" has been repealed) some things haven’t changed. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 30 members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, and HIV-positive community were murdered in 2011, an 11% increase from the previous year and the highest number of murders in one year ever reported.

Fourteen years is made up of 5,113 days or 7,358,400 minutes. Every one of those minutes is precious and fleeting. What can you do with some of these valuable minutes to make the world a safer place so that what happened to Matthew Shepard and other hate crime victims will never happen again?

•Educate yourself: October is National LGBT History Month. Attend an LGBT event such as a lecture, film, play, or reading, or go to a meeting of your local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). (45 minutes)

•Use your voice: Compose a letter supporting LGBT rights and send it to your local newspaper and/or state representative (25 minutes)

•Show you care: Call, text, or email someone you know who is LGBT, just to say hello. (5 minutes)

•Open your wallet: Make a donation to an LGBT organization such as the Matthew Shepard Foundation so they can continue their work to erase hate (1 minute)

•Open your heart: Smile at a member of the LGBT community you pass on the street (1 second).

Time is of the essence.

LESLÉA NEWMAN is the author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, Heather Has Two Mommies, and many other books. For more on her work, visit LesleaKids.com and watch the trailer to Newman's latest book on Matthew Shepard below:

Tags: Commentary