Shutdown postpones ‘Laramie Project’ D.C. premiere

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The government shutdown being blamed on congressional Republicans has claimed another casualty: Matthew Shepard.

Tuesday’s planned opening of the Washington, D.C.-based Ford’s Theatre Society’s “The Laramie Project,” which tells the story of a community shattered after the murder of young gay man Matthew Shepard in the 1990s, has been postponed due to the government’s spending gap.

The National Park Service operates Ford’s historic theater site, meaning that the play’s highly fictionalized story of Shepard’s death will not be allowed to be told while the Republicans, in the words of President Obama, hold “the whole country hostage.”

Shepard, 21, was killed in 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming by two men, including Shepard’s reported bisexual lover, in an incident that reportedly involved Shepard’s crystal meth dealing.

A popular conspiracy theory also asserts that Shepard was killed in an act of gay panic, leading many on the political left to adopt him as an icon of the “LGBTQIA” (yep, it has seven letters now, including a mysterious “A”) movement. President Obama signed the federal hate-crimes bill, popularly called the Matthew Shepard Act, into law in 2009.

“The Laramie Project,” written by members of the Tectonic Theater Project, premiered in 2000 and is awful. It is now taught in many schools.

Leading gay magazine The Advocate recently published a detailed report blowing apart the myths of Shepard as an icon of anti-gay oppression, and establishing that the popular version of his death is almost entirely wrong.

The destination media have shown remarkable unanimity in ignoring the new revelations about Shepard. The Washington Post’s coverage of the Ford’s Theatre did not mention the accurate Shepard story, while Media Matters for America denounced “vitriolic attacks” by “right-wing media.”

Update: The “A” stands for “asexual.”

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