Artist: Moises Kaufman
Confronting Bodies: RELIGIOUS GROUPS;
Brevard (Florida) Community College;
The Rev. Phelps and his Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas--traveling all over North America to protest the play and gay people.
Date of Action: 2000-2001
Specific Location: Broward County Community College;
Various High Schools throughout the United States as well as a televised version of it over commerical and cable broadcast stations.
Description of Artwork: The depiction of the events and life of Matthew Sheperd, a young gay man and student who had harmed no one, on the threshold of adult life and his murder because he was gay by bigots who entrapped him pretending to be gay and offering him a ride back home to the University of Wyoming. This play has no suggestive sexual body contact in it. It simply tells about the life of Matthew Sheperd and if he were not gay probally would have gone un-noticed.This sources of the play are newpaper accounts and people who knew Matthew or had some sort or contact with him.
Description of Incident: The College President and Board fired a faculty member who presented this play with his students. Play has been closed down at many High Schools by religious groups who have protested the play including the Rev. Phelps, of Topeka Kansas who is a charecter in the play as the preacher who protested Matthew's funeral with his 'God HATES FAGS' groups and in doing so has been invited to leave and not visit many communities in the United States and Canada. Many people objected because the play was about a gay man and they never even bothered to see if there was anything pornographic,etc. about it but objected on hearsay.
Results of Incident: The Florida Community College was threatened with a major lawsuit and backed down and the terminated drama coach reinstated. The play was allowed to be presented. In some High Schools; faculty members were terminated and the play not permitted to be performed. When such incidents occured; there was an International protest and in some cases the play was allowed to be presented and in others it was not. Rev. Phelps and his groups have been arrested in some cases for their protests. Amazingly, the rights to perform this play , while on Broadway, in Greenville, S.C. went off without incidence. Greenville is the home of Bob Jones University known for it's bigotry and religious fundamentalism.
Source: the sources are news reports and the writers first hand experiences.
Submitted By: william rowland