66 pages • 2 hours readMoises Kaufman
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“If you would have asked me before, I would have told you, Laramie is a beautiful town, secluded enough that you can have your own identity… A town with a strong sense of community…. Now, after Matthew, I would say that Laramie is a town defined by an accident, a crime…. We’re a noun, a definition, a sign. We may be able to get rid of that… but it will sure take a while.”
This quotation from Jedadiah Schultz gives us a sense of the momentous change wrought in Laramie by Matthew Shepard’s death. Laramie has become a symbol for the hatred implicit in Matthew’s murder and has struggled to find a sense of identity beyond that.
“As far as the gay issue, I don’t give a damn one way or the other as long as they don’t bother me. And even if they did, I’d just say no thank you. And that’s the attitude of most of the Laramie population. They might poke one, if they were in a bar situation you know, they had been drinking, they might actually smack one in the mouth, but then they’d just walk away. Most of ‘em said they would just say, ‘I don’t swing that way,’ and whistle on about their business. Laramie is live and let live.”
This is Marge Murray’s account of relations between Laramie’s straight residents and their LGBT neighbors. Although she says that most people don’t care about other people’s sexuality, the possibility of violence is ever-present. Thus, Marge’s words reveal a discrepancy between what people say and what they do. While most people would not express overtly homophobic opinions, they would react violently to any perceived pass made by a gay person.
“The fact is… Laramie doesn’t have any gay bars… and for that matter neither does Wyoming.”
This brief quote from Doc O’Connor points to the lack of visibility that LGBT life has in Wyoming. Although he is adamant that there are many gay people in Laramie and in Wyoming more generally, there is no space given to them. They are forced to go out of state to find partners or enjoy themselves safely, without the risk of violence. At home, they must pretend to be other than what they are.