It’s been 23 years since Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student, was murdered in Wyoming. It was a hate crime that shook the nation, but it seems that the spirit of that horrific homophobic act is still alive for some “Equality State” residents — and they have the T-shirt to prove it.
A bar in Wyoming has sold out of a T-shirt that says, “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS. We shoot fuck’n faggots.” The text is set against the background of a man in a biker jacket aiming a gun.
The shirt’s existence was brought to light by the LGBTQ+ organization Wyoming Equality. The group chose not to name the bar, writing on Facebook that it did this to avoid giving the establishment more “notoriety,” which could lead to even more of the hateful shirts being sold “off the pain of our community.”
However, Cowboy State Daily reported that the bar in question is the Eagle’s Nest, located in Cheyenne, which is not some small backwater town, but rather the state’s largest city.
While Wyoming Equality’s attempts to persuade the bar to stop selling the shirts weren’t successful, the organization is asking people not to protest the business. Instead, the group is calling on them to focus their efforts on supporting Wyoming Equality, as it works with “a number of businesses and leaders to make sure that our message of dignity and equality continues to be shared.”
In an interview with The Cheyenne Post, Eagle’s Nest owner Ray Bereziuk said the shirts sold out and he had no intention of reordering more because he’s “in the bar business, not the apparel business.”
Wyoming Equality’s executive director, Sara Burlingame, said this is an opportunity for people in Wyoming to become inspired to take steps to protect LGBTQ+ individuals in their state. “Want to make it unpopular to be a bigot? Donate to Wyoming Equality or Wyoming AIDS Assistance. Put a pride flag up in your business or home. Wear one of our cool AF shirts. Pass a Hate Crime bill. Invest in queer joy and resilience,” she wrote on her personal Facebook page. “Let the haters hate in their own misery. Keep Wyoming queer and wild.”