More than 300 people gathered Tuesday in Redding, Calif., to remember the lives of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, a California gay couple killed four years ago while they slept in their Happy Valley home. The annual memorial on the day of the killing began in 2000 as way to commemorate the loss of Matson and Mowder but has since grown into a yearly celebration of diversity, the Redding Record Searchlight reports. This year's Celebration of Life and Diversity was also poignant, as the cases against brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams, who murdered the couple, are now closed. Benjamin Williams confessed to the killings in a letter dated two days before his November 17, 2002, suicide in Shasta County Jail. Tyler Williams later pleaded guilty to the killings and is currently serving 29 years to life at High Desert State Prison in Susanville.
The celebration, which is designed to honor all types of lifestyles, featured information booths, and Roberto Dansie, a clinical psychologist and motivational speaker from Red Bluff, Calif., was the emcee. "It's to help people learn that people can be different than you and it's OK," said Dave Boyd of Redding. "It's to break through the ignorance and fear." Boyd added that he didn't think Redding was "ready to have a gay pride; that's why it's more about diversity."