Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of gay college student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a brutal hate crime in 1998, will headline Miami Beach Pride in 2019.
"We are incredibly honored to have Judy and Dennis Shepard be our Miami Beach Pride ally narshals this year, and to honor them for their unwavering support and tireless work in the LGBTQ community," Bruce Horwich, chairman of Miami Beach Pride, told The Advocate.
After Matthew's death, his parents established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help LGBTQ youth, promote acceptance, and work against hate crimes. Leading these efforts, Judy and Dennis Shepard have spent two decades working to provide a safe place for LGBTQ youth, and educate parents and allies on how to stand up for the LGBTQ community. They were also instrumental in securing passage of the first federal legislation against hate crimes, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
"Miami has always been a friendly place for the foundation, though we know we have much more work to do down there," said Jason Marsden, the foundation's executive director. "Hate-crime reporting is very low, which does not match up with the known issues in South Florida.We hope that by representing our foundation and reminding people of Matt, we can encourage both those affected by hate crimes and law enforcement to step up, connect, and do a better job for LGBTQ+ community of Miami Beach."
Miami Beach Pride will be held April 1-7. For more information, visit here.