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Chile’s Matthew Shepard

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2012

October 7, 1998. That’s the day that American was introduced to a slight fragile 22 year old gay kid left in the snow to die alongside a rural Wyoming road. That is the day that when the nation shifted.

Every movement has a before and after moment. Often several. When parents in Ohio and Missouri and Nevada heard about Matthew Shepard, and saw his picture, they didn’t see a militant homosexual activist in the big city who got what he had coming; they saw the face of their own kids and the ones down the street. And overnight – literally – things were different.

March 27, 2012.
That is the day that Chile was introduced to a slight fragile 24 year old kid who kidnapped and tortured by four young men. He was burned with cigarettes , swastikas were carved into his skin, part of his ear was cut off and then he was beaten to death. And shocked Chileans are ready for change.

I had started a commentary with the above title, but didn’t have time to finish. Fortunately, the Christian Science Monitor has made the same comparison so I can just reference you to their excellent article.

Thousands of mourners thronged the family of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio as they carried his battered body to his grave on Friday, a month after a violent attack apparently motivated by anti-gay sentiment.

As the family drove through Santiago, bystanders threw flowers, cheered, and chanted for justice. The brutal murder has shocked Chileans and has sent support for gay rights soaring in a country that has lagged behind many of its neighbors in addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case spurred the government to fast-track an antidiscrimination law that has been stalled in the legislature for seven years.

“It’s a historic day. Thousands of people came out to mark a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ for the country,” Jaime Silva, a lawyer representing Zamudio’s family, said in an interview at the funeral. “This crime grabbed attention for its brutality. It was the most brutal attack we’ve seen since the days of the dictatorship. And it was utterly senseless. If it happened to Daniel, it could happen to you or me or any one of us.”



April 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Hearing of another young man brutally killed still shocks me more thoroughly than I can express. If anyone starts a letter of condolences to Daniel Zamudio’s family, I hope my name is on it.

Hearing that thousands of Chileans turned out to support the family is comforting. Like the story a year and a half ago of the rescue of the Chilean miners, this story also gives me a positive image of the Chilean people.

I will remain saddened that civil rights and social acceptance of different people still need grotesque brutality to wake us all up.

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