Journal Entry: Moisés Kaufman
First full day of interviews. 7 in total.
In the morning talked to a gay man who told me that "Laramie hasn't changed much. But the gay community here has. We are more visible, stronger, closer!" The murder of Matthew made many people come out and that had a strong community building effect. Bonds and allegiances were made. For 6 years now they've been doing an AIDS walk and a new GLBTQ organization called Spectrum is doing terrific work in campus. Overall, gay and lesbians are more visible here. That's no small feat.
However legislatively, not a single piece of legislation protecting gays has passed. Nothing at the state level. At the city level, a small reporting requirement ordinance for the police is all that has been allowed to pass.
There's also a great deal of people who are trying to re-write history. Saying it wasn't a hate crime. It was a robbery gone bad. Or it was drugs.
Which is a very hard thing to hear. All anyone has to do is read McKinney's confession. Or his girlfriend Kirsten's confession.
I find it telling that the fence to which Matthew was tied has been dismantled. The Fireside Bar has been renamed JJ's (although the interior is the same). And we've heard many people say: "we're trying to move on".
It's important to remember that Laramie was very hurt not only by the brutal murder but by the media portrayal of it as a town of "rednecks and hillbillies and cowboys" which of course it's not. What we found so interesting about Laramie is not how different it is from the rest of the country, but how similar. Ten years ago we heard so many times people cry out against the media portrayal: "We're not like this!". The town's reputation had been tarnished. And there's still the need for many people to "set the record straight".
Several of the interviewees talked about burnout. There's still so much work to do in the state. And too many people who want to "put this behind them".
At night we go to a reception at the university for theater students who are performing in new plays. They are all in their late teens early twenties and so full of life and joy. It's good to be with them. And I think of Matthew.