Ellen DeGeneres

Vigil for Matthew Shepard - Oct. 14, 1998

Ellen DeGeneres
October 14, 1998— Washington, D.C.
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Well, just when they’d thought I’d shut up.

I am so pissed off. I can’t stop crying. You know, I know we all feel the same way and I’m here. He’s got these two close friends here, and I don’t even know him. I’m thinking this is really selfish of me. I mean, pull yourself together.

It just hit me why I am so devastated by it. It’s because this is what I was trying to stop. This is exactly why I did what I did. Boy, you see them come out in forces when they think a lesbian is going to be on television—the preachers come out then—but something like this happens. Where are they?

Anyway, everybody has already said everything. You are hearing the same thing over and over again. I really didn’t know what I was going to say. I just started writing on the plane, and thought it was pretty good. Then Ann read what she wrote and I was going to throw it away. But I wrote it so I’m going to say it. It is basically the same thing over and over.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to put into words what I want to say. My thoughts are that: this world we live in is filled with hate and darkness. Matthew Shepard was not the first hate crime, it happens every day. There are 2,500 reported this year. Many go unreported because most gays and lesbians are still in the closet for fear of this exact reason.

When three white men dragged James Burr Jr. behind their truck and killed him just because he was black, I felt the same way. I don’t see full-paged ads saying, “Stop the hate! Stop the violence!” These same evil, idiotic so-called “God-loving people” who use the Bible to justify their hate, I’m sure still feel deep down that blacks aren’t equal to whites because the Bible is also used to justify slavery.

It took one man, one white man, Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves. He wasn’t very popular for doing it, but he knew it was the right thing to do. When Hitler was killing all the Jews, the church was silent. They did nothing. It was a few good Germans who helped hide the Jews.

Right now, homosexuals are the target of, at the very least, discrimination-- at the very worst hate and violence. So I am begging heterosexuals to see this as a wakeup call to help us end the hate. Please raise your children with love and non-judgment. Tell them that everyone has the right to love who they want to love. It shouldn’t threaten you or who you are. Explain that it is not okay to call someone a f@@@@@ or a n@@@@@ or a k@@@. We shouldn’t be asked to change who we are.

The millions of dollars the religious rights spend on print ads and TV ads could be spent on helping to change the homeless or help change men who abuse women.

Matthew Shepard wasn’t hurting anyone. He was a good person, a gentle soul who was tortured to death. He is with God now, who I am sure is crying.

My torture goes on every time I think of what those boys did to him just because he was gay. When will we learn? Just because someone is black, just because someone is Jewish, just because someone is gay.

This is a war. We need your help. Please search your hearts. Think for yourselves. Be on the right side—the side of love and compassion.

Thank you very much.