Oct. 12: The JustUsBoys website recently made headlines when Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi posted on the website’s message boards asking for advice in the final hours leading up to his tragic suicide. JustUsBoys was referenced on CNN, Time, The New York Times, ABC News, People Magazine, Forbes and hundreds of other news programs, websites, magazines and newspapers. The outpouring from the public regarding the kind of role a gay community plays in helping to avert isolation of gay youth was not lost on the owner of JustUsBoys who wanted to find a way to do more than provide a safe place to talk.
Twelve years ago today, on October 12, 1998, Matthew Shepard left the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming with two men who plotted to intentionally target and rob a gay man. Matthew was beaten, robbed, tied to a fence and left to die. Matthew was found, still tied to the fence 18 hours later, but succumbed to the brutal beating several days later in a hospital room surrounded by his family. Matthew’s murder alone was horrific, but in the most private moments as his family prepared to bury their son, vicious anti-gay protesters picketed the funeral, bringing a national spotlight to both the hatred and violence faced by gay men and women. Since Matthew’s senseless death, countless more young gay men and women have been the victims of violent crime and harassment simply because they were different. Many hate crimes go unreported, and the bullying and harassment doesn’t stop.
JustUsBoys provides a community and forum where young gay and questioning men can talk about their issues, fears, and day-to-day experiences living in a world that often lets vulnerable citizens slip through the cracks. Coming out issues and questions are discussed daily, from how to tell friends and family to learning self-confidence as out productive members of society. When churches, family and schools reject or condemn, a place to turn for support is crucial. A strong voice that proclaims “You are OK” needs to be heard, but it is hard to reach vulnerable youth unless that strong supportive voice can be heard.
For that reason, JustUsBoys is seeking to raise funds and awareness for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization created by Matthew’s family to raise awareness and promote human dignity for everyone by engaging school, corporations and individuals. Their goal is to raise $10,000 for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, then match those donations with a corporate donation of another $10,000. The JUB statement said “We will not be bullied, and we will not stand by or turn our heads when others are bullied. Please join our pledge drive at www.justusboys.com/pledgedrive“
Donate today! Please remember to put “JustUsBoys(dot)com” in the comments box for JUB to track. JUB will match all donations received between now and November 30, 2010 up to $10,000.