WORLD AIDS DAY

December 01, 2018 at 5:45 am

New York sees a huge decrease in new cases of AIDS, but for many who have the virus, the stigma of the diagnosis still looms large inside the gay community. A personal report ahead.

Aired on December 1, 2017. 

Transcript Print

>> YOU KNOW WHO MATTHEW SHEPARD
WAS.
IF NOT, YOU SHOULD.
LET ME REMIND YOU.
21-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE STUDENT IN
1998 WAS TORTURED AND BRUTALLY
BEATEN JUST FOR BEING GAY, TIED
TO FENCE AND LEFT TO DIE,
MATTHEW'S BODY FOUND 18 HOURS
LATER IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES
BY A PASSERBY WHO MISTOOK HIS
LIMP FRAME FOR SCARECROW.
CATALYST FOR REWRITING HATE
CRIME LAWS AMONG OTHER THINGS
AND PARENTS JUDY AND DENNIS
SHEPARD ARE COMMEMORATING THE
ANNIVERSARY OF THEIR SON'S
DEATH, CONTINUING TO TRY TO
ERASE HATE.
THANKS FOR BEING HERE.
>> THANK YOU.
>> 20 YEARS AGO, IT IS HARD, I
REMEMBER COVERING THE STORY AND
FOR YOU, THE NOTION OF 20 YEARS
HAVING PASSED MUST BE SO
DIFFICULT.
BUT THE FOUNDATION, WHAT WAS THE
IDEA BEHIND THAT FOUNDATION WHEN
YOU STARTED IT?
>> WE RECEIVED A LOT OF
CORRESPONDENCE WHEN MATT WAS
STILL IN THE HOSPITAL AND SOON
AFTER HE PASSED FROM PARENTS OF
GAY CHILDREN ASKING US TO USE
OUR VOICE AS ACCEPTING PARENTS,
SHOW OTHER PARENTS YOUR KIDS ARE
YOUR KIDS NO MATTER WHAT.
WE HAD LOST OUR SON TO HORRIFIC
ACT OF VIOLENCE BUT OTHER
FAMILIES HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO
BRING THEIR CHILDREN AND WELCOME
THEM BACK INTO THEIR FAMILIES.
THAT GOT US STARTED.
FELT WE OWED IT TO MATT TO DO
THAT.
MANY OTHER THINGS SINCE THEN BUT
THAT STARTED IT.
>> WE TALKED ABOUT IT ON OUR
PROGRAM IN THE PAST, LARAMIE
PROJECT.
WHAT IS THAT?
>> IT WAS A PLAY BY MOISES
KAUFMAN AND THE TECTONIC
THEATER.
WENT TO LARAMIE AFTER THE TRIALS
AND INTERVIEWED PEOPLE TO GET
THEIR REACTIONS.
FROM THAT THEY DEVELOPED "THE
LARAMIE PROJECT," SECOND MOST
PRODUCED PLAY IN THE UNITED
STATES, BOTH FROM HIGH SCHOOLS,
COLLEGES, ADULT THEATER GROUPS,
ET CETERA.
THEN THEY WENT BACK TEN YEARS
LATER FOR THE SECOND PLAY, WENT
BACK TO FIND OUT IF ATTITUDES
HAD CHANGED AND IDEAS AND
ACCEPTANCE HAD GOTTEN BETTER.
>> HEARD YOU TALK ABOUT THE FACT
YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT THE
CURRENT POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT,
AND IMPACT IT COULD HAVE ON WHAT
YOU'VE BEEN DOING IN MATTHEW'S
MEMORY.
WHY ARE YOU CONCERNED?
>> WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS UNDER
THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, NOT
ONLY IN LEGISLATIVE AND LEGAL
SENSE BUT IN A MORAL SENSE I
THINK OF IT.
PEOPLE BEGAN TO UNDERSTAND AND
ACCEPT THE GAY COMMUNITY AND ALL
MINORITIES UNDERSTANDING WE'RE
ALL JUST TRYING TO LIVE OUR
LIVES, JUST THE SAME AS DENNIS
SAID.
TO FEEL SAFE AND SECURE, LOVE
AND BE LOVED IN RETURN, REALLY
NO DIFFERENCE.
OBAMA PUT IN MANY THINGS WITH
EXECUTIVE ORDER OR SOME KIND OF
REGULATION TO PROTECT LGBT
STUDENTS AND WORKERS THAT NOW
HAVE BEEN TURNED BACK.
I'M WORRIED THAT NOT ONLY ARE
THEY DOING IT IN A REGULATORY
SENSE, BUT DOING IT IN THE WAY
THEY TALK ABOUT THE GAY
COMMUNITY, AND NOT JUST GAY BUT
IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, PEOPLE OF
COLOR.
IT JUST FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS
TOPSY-TURVY NOW.
LITERALLY GONE BACK TO THE '50s
WHERE THERE WAS NO ACCEPTANCE OF
ANYONE BUT WHITE CHRISTIAN MEN.
>> THIS IS A DIFFICULT QUESTION
BUT I THINK IT CAN BE HELPFUL.
IF YOU HAD SOME TIME TO SIT DOWN
WITH MEMBERS OF THE
ADMINISTRATION, WHO YOU FEEL
HAVE NOT BEEN DOING WHAT THEY
SHOULD BE DOING, WHAT WOULD YOU
SAY TO THEM?
>> I WOULDN'T TALK TO THEM.
THEIR MINDS ARE MADE UP.
THEY'RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE.
THAT'S WHY THEY'RE IN THERE.
>> WE'VE SHEXPERIENCE TALKING TO
THEM, SESSIONS AND PENCE IN
CONGRESS TRYING TO DO HATE CRIME
LEGISLATION.
THEY'RE SO ATTACHED TO THE IDEA
THAT GAY COMMUNITY IS LESS THAN
AND NOT DESERVING OF, IT WAS
POINTLESS.
IN LARGER SENSE THEY SAY PEOPLE
ARE EQUAL AND DESERVE SAFETY BUT
WHEN THEY TRY TO SAY YOU CAN
STILL FIRE THEM FROM THEIR JOBS
OR GAY MARRIAGE SHOULDN'T BE
ALLOWED, THAT'S NOT SENDING
MESSAGE OF INCLUSIVENESS THIS
COUNTRY REALLY SHOULD BE.
I'M NOT SURE WE COULD IN ANY WAY
CHANGE THEIR MIND.
THERE IS A SEGMENT OF SOCIETY
JUST NOT ON BOARD WITH THAT.
>> HOPEFULLY THE CONVERSATION
YOU'RE DRIVING WILL CONTINUE AND
WE'LL GET WHERE WE NEED TO BE.
>> WE HOPE SO.
>> THANKS FOR STAYING HERE.
>> APPRECIATE IT.
>> BE WELL.
>> THANKS.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019