Judy Shepard, human rights activist and mother of Matthew Shepard, whose tragic murder brought national attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels, will serve as keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Houston gala dinner, to be held April 12 at the Hilton Americas – Houston Hotel.
Since the death of her son in 1998, Shepard has traveled around the world to enact hate crimes protection for the GLBT community. As executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, she will explain the group’s mission to combat hate and bigotry through funding diversity and youth programs while sharing her story of courage, inspiration and forgiveness. “We’re thrilled to have secured Judy Shepard as our speaker,” said Michael Pearce, co-chair for the event. “Her story has touched so many and we know she serves as an inspiration not only to the GLBT community, but to friends and family who care and support their GLBT loved ones.”
Past speakers for the Houston event include John Amaechi, the former NBA player and first NBA player to disclose he is gay; Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first American wounded in the war in Iraq; Kyan Douglas, grooming expert for the hit cable TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy; George Takei, best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the TV and film series, Star Trek; and Sharon Gless, who brought the role of Christine Cagney to life in the famed 1980s TV series, Cagney & Lacey, and most recently starred in Showtime’s Queer As Folk and FX Network’s Nip/Tuck; among others.