Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Judy Shepard at UC

I promised I'd write about this to some of the organizers, and seeing it over at reminded that I had not done so yet.

Judy Shepard is speaking at the University of Cincinnati on Monday, April 6th at 7p.m. at the Tangeman University Center -- the event is free and open to the public. If you have not seen Miss Shepard speak yet, I am instilling this upon you: it is your good gay duty to do so.

And, if you have, it might be wise to go again.

Matthew Shepard, her son, died over 10 years ago at this point. It made sense that, after a few months of mourning, Miss Shepard would travel the country and talk about hate and violence and crime and the awfulness that brought an end to her son's life. Many many people have written lamentations on Matthew Shepard, and there have been far more eloquent people speak on the tragedy ... many years and years ago. It would also be expected that, after a few years, we would expect Miss Shepard to go into relative obscurity, having become exhausted with the fight.

But she hasn't.

For over ten years, Miss Shepard has fought on, and fought hard. She has been a tireless, fearless, and articulate champion for coming out, fighting the fight in your hometown, ending violence, and a whole host of issues that need to be heard. She has not given up; she has not stopped fighting in honor of the dear son she lost so terribly. And she never had a political motivation, at least one not so sharp as, say, Cindy Sheehan. I saw her speak at Miami University years ago, and I remember this being her greatest political message:

Be out -- all day, everyday.

Such power in five words, enough so to influence me for years to come. Every day, I seek to be out because of what Judy Shepard taught me. Every day, I challenge the people who say that my sexuality and gender expression is "not appropriate" because of what Judy Shepard taught me. Every day, I am only myself, lilting speech and sashaying hips and singing musicals and existing just on this side of femme, because of what Judy Shepard taught me.

Miss Shepard taught me to be fearless and unapologetic in my sexuality and in my gender. I will give it up for no one, and that's caused me problems in the past. I was passed over for a job due to me "*ahem* enthusiasm," and I have been called to task at work over my apparent "obsession with my own sexuality." But those are the battle scars we win, and they are far fewer scars than she carries.

Because of what Judy Shepard taught me, I am stronger, better, smarter, sharper.

Ten years later, I suppose there will be the homosexuals amongst us that say: "Been there done that." Or, "Is she still puttering around the country?" Or, "Seen her a hundred times." Or, "That's a tired old line, the Matthew Shepard bit." Ten years later, Miss Shepard could have given up...

...instead she is fighting harder than 99% of any LGBT person I know.

Miss Shepard is legend, she is royalty, she is life. On April 6th, at 7pm, on UC's campus, it will be worth it to you to go back and see why her tired old lines ring truer every day.

On a more personal note, there is a second lesson she tried to impress on us -- "Don't let anyone live rent-free in your head" -- that I am still attempting to live up to everyday.

Also: From our friends at the local PFLAG:
HOWEVER, the amazing guys at the ISQCCBE (Cincinnati's incredibly drag queen society) is putting on a show this Sunday, April 4th 5th at 8 p.m. Location: On Broadway Bar, 817 Broadway Street, downtown Cincinnati. Proceeds to go to PFLAG.

I (Lynne Lefebvre, President of PFLAG Cincinnati) have had my arm severely twisted and will be doing one number!!!

So, if I have to squeeze into a tight little dress and risk embarrassing myself, maybe you would like to join us for the fun.

For those who have never been to a drag show, this is something you might want to try. Certainly would give some contrast to the Easter dinner you wolfed down ealier in the day.

1 comment:

Montgomery Maxton said...

I saw her and met her in 2003, she is great.