THE LARAMIE PROJECT
Region: North America
Medium: Theatre Film Video Television
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.
Dates of Action: 2000-2001
Location: Broward County Community College; Florida, USA; 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, and his murder because he was gay by bigots who entrapped him by pretending to be gay and offering him a ride back to the University of Wyoming. This play has no suggestive sexual body contact in it. It simply tells about the life of Matthew Sheperd which, had he not been gay, probally would have gone un-noticed. The sources for the play are newpaper accounts and people who knew Matthew.
The Incident: The College President and Board fired a faculty member who presented this play with his students. The Laramie Project 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 at 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.
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 occurred, there has been 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 still 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.