Around the country people are preparing to remember the tenth anniversary of a brutal anti-gay attack near Laramie, Wyoming that left twenty-one year-old Matthew Shepard dead.

Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, shackled to a post and left to die in a field by two men he had met in a gay bar. He was found comatose, but died five days later on October 12th.

The crime triggered a nationwide discussion on violence against gays and lesbians. Particularly, anti-gay crimes committed against young gay men and women.

The University of Wyoming honored Shepard's memory Saturday with the dedication of a bench outside the university's arts and sciences building. “Matthew Wayne Shepard Dec. 1, 1976-Oct. 12, 1998. Beloved son, brother, and friend. He continues to make a difference. Peace be with him and all who sit here,” reads the inscription on the bench.

“We've learned a lot, we've talked a lot; we do it in public forums now,” Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother, said at the dedication. “So it's a wonderful tribute to Matt that these kinds of things are discussed.”

Matthew Shepard's parents have become vocal supporters of hate crimes legislation. Judy Shepard lamented the fact that Wyoming has not adopted such laws.

“I regret that,” she said. “We still have some negative legislation attempts and discussion and those kind of things. But I'm confident that as the Equality State we can move forward, set an example and really make a statement about what it means to be equal to everybody else.”

How hate effects the gay and lesbian community was the focus of a Chicago rally Saturday in memory of Shepard.

“Violence does not happen in a vacuum,” Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen, a scheduled speaker at the rally, wrote on his blog. “There is a multi-million dollar anti-gay industry that dehumanizes us every day. They pump millions of dollars into making GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] people appear to be moral monsters and then act surprised when hate crimes occur. We are marching to speak out against this poisonous rhetoric that has harmed so many families.”

On October 13th, the Matthew Shepard Foundation plans to mark the tenth anniversary of the anti-gay crime with a candlelight ceremony at Loring Park in Minneapolis.

The two men who killed Shepard are serving life sentences in prison.

On the net: The Matthew Shepard Foundation at