The ashes of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was murdered in 1998 because he was gay, were interred in the National Cathedral Saturday morning.

Shepard, 21, was beaten and killed by two men in October 1998. The attack shocked the nation and helped the LGBT rights movement by bringing much-needed attention to the violence LGBT Americans frequently faced.

According to a statement from the cathedral, Shepard’s remains were received Friday by Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Shepard’s ashes were honored 20 years after his death by the attendees at the service, including the poet Maggie Smith.


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“What an honor meeting the Shepards,” Smith wrote in an Instagram post showing a program from the service. “As Bishop Gene Robinson said: Welcome home, Matt.”

The New York Times previously reported that the Shapard family had avoided picking a final resting place for their son, fear the grave would be desecrated by opponents of the LGBT rights movement. Now, they’ve selected the National Cathedral as the right location.

“I think it’s the perfect, appropriate place,” Dennis Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s father, told the Times.


“It’s a place where there’s an actual chance for others to sit and reflect about Matthew, and about themselves, and about their friends,” he added.

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