Hate Crimes?

My name is Sara Grossman and I am the Communications Manager for The Dru Project. I also work as the Communications Manager for The Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver, CO.


Today, another board member sent me a photo of Drew from 2008. 

In the photo, he was laying in front of a car and the caption said something about it being a "hate crime in progress." I immediately felt the blood start to drain from my face. 

She said, "Do you think he always knew he would die because of a hate crime?"

By that point, I knew my face was completely white.

No, I do not think that Drew always felt like he would die from a hate crime. In fact, he was one of the few people who would openly make fun of himself and our community about it. That was one of our things. We somehow felt like we were above hate. Above hate crimes. We wanted to believe that we were in this post-hate crime world. It wasn't the 90s. We lived in a post-Ellen generation.

We were wrong, though.

The truth of the matter is that since 1998 when Matthew Shepard was tortured and beaten for being gay, all of us were probably on high alert about the fact that yes -- any of us could have been Matt. Maybe we used humor to shirk the thought. Maybe we got involved in our GSAs to feel like we had a community. Maybe we started the GSAs to create the community.

There were a litany of reasons. Any or all of them valid.

And as time progressed, we had progress. DOMA and Don't Ask, Don't Tell were overturned. State groups were formed to help schools. But as time progressed, violence also progressed. Instead of being worried about being dragged from a bar and killed, we now have to worry about people entering our bars and killing us. En masse. 

What can we do about it? How can we continue the work that The Matthew Shepard Foundation and countless other LGBT advocacy organizations have worked tirelessly to accomplish? How is it that in 2016, we have neither jet packs nor peace of mind?

I don't have the answers. Drew didn't either. But we did what we were always taught to do: love. And that is something all of us need a bit more of in a landscape that is so entrenched in hatred.

If you can, volunteer your time to your local LGBT organization. If you can, make a donation. Anything helps.