Remembering Matthew Shepard’s Legacy in His Own Backyard
In this small town of Laramie, what you say matters. It gets around. The only way to combat the misinformation is to keep telling the truth.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
And only Matthew in the sky
The Laramie ProjectThe Matthew Shepard StoryMatthew Shepard Is a Friend of MineThe New York Times
...In the west,
they are tying a boy to a fence and leaving him to die,
his face unrecognizable behind a mask
of blood. His body, icon
of loss, growing meaningful
against his will.
The Laramie Project Matthew Shepard Was a Friend of Mine
The Laramie ProjectMatthew Shepard Was a Friend of Mine
The Book of Matt
The Laramie Project
Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming, is a 2016 VONA/Voices alumna, and a participant of the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Rumpus, with essays in Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a prose editor for The Adroit Journal and is working on a novel. Find her at jennytinghui.com
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When I came to Laramie, I found the person I wanted to be. When I left, I took her with me.
There are cowboys out there who echo the conquering-the-west narrative, one of entitlement and legacy and what he is owed.
I take off the effects of the day, the echoes of wind, sleet, and snow. I pamper my skin, urge it to replenish and heal. I am asking myself to brave another day.
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As a woman of color moving to Laramie, Wyoming, I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in, that I would be unsafe. But at karaoke night at The Ruffed Up Duck, I found my place among the the defiant.
I think about the many invisible struggles, the empty places I have had to fill for my kids. The bridges I’ve had to build.