Emerson College alumna Michele Josue ’01 took home a Daytime Emmy Award on April 29 for her documentary, Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, about the gay college student who was brutally murdered in 1998.
The documentary, which aired on Logo, won in the Special Class–Special category.
The film, Josue’s first, is “an honest and intimate portrait of Matt as he is remembered by those who knew him,” according to the film’s IMDb description. Josue and Shepard were good friends.
In October 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was pistol whipped, tied to a fence post, set on fire, and left for dead by two men with whom he left a local bar. He died six days later in a Colorado hospital. His killers were convicted of first-degree murder and given life sentences, but were not convicted of hate crimes.
Shepard’s murder touched off a wave of support and funding to fight anti-gay violence in subsequent years, including the Matthew Shepard Act of 2009, which expanded federal hate crime protections to people targeted because of their sexuality.
(In 2013, investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez published a book suggesting that Shepard actually was murdered in a drug deal gone bad, a premise hotly contested by many LGBT activists and allies.)
Josue told LGBT news blog Outtake, “I think gay or straight, I think that everyone should have a commitment to LGBT civil rights. You know gay rights are human rights and the struggle affects all of us. For me, it’s really important to stand up for my gay family members, my gay friends, Matt, and all the Matt Shepards out there. To fight for their rights to be acknowledged as equal members of society, deserving of every equality that everyone else has.”
Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine also was screened at Reel Pride Winnipeg, the St. Louis International Film Festival, and the SF Human Rights Film Festival.