An intimate chronicle of the community's response to Matthew Shepard's murder

So powerful--beautifully done! It's so moving, so imaginatively and intelligently conceived and executed.

Lillian Faderman, Author, The Gay Revolution
Synopsis: 

In October 1998, Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left lashed to a fence to die. The horror of this murder pushed Laramie into the media spotlight and sparked a nationwide debate about homophobia, gay-bashing and hate crimes. 

As Laramie braced for the trials of Matthew's killers, filmmaker Beverly Seckinger returned to her hometown to see how his murder was transforming the site of her own closeted adolescence. In Laramie Inside Out, we meet "God-hates-fags" Westboro Baptist Church Reverend Fred Phelps, who condemns Shepard and all LGBTQ people to hell. But we also meet students, teachers, parents, and clergy determined to fight for the soul of their community.  

October 12, 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of Matthew's death, a watershed moment that continues to reverberate through the ongoing struggle to create a more just world. Yet most college students today have never heard the name Matthew Shepard.  Laramie Inside Out vividly recounts this pivotal chapter in LGBTQ history, and keeps Matthew's memory alive.

Reviews

An achingly intimate journey into the response of the citizens of Laramie, Wyoming to one of the most sensationalized and publicized hate crimes of the 1990's. Laramie Inside Out is a testament to the bravery of small-town queers everywhere who choose to stay home and fight the good fight, where their existence is radical and changing the world.

Frameline International LGBT Film Festival

With warmth, humor, and insight, Bev Seckinger gives us a vision of Laramie that few have imagined. By documenting the strength and resiliency of Laramie's gay and lesbian residents, her film offers a complex corrective to most media depictions of her hometown. A lovely, loving testament.

Beth Loffreda, Author, Losing Matt Shepard

An important addition to the narratives that help us understand what happened to Matthew Shepard, why it happened and how that community was affected by the crime.

Moises Kaufman, Screenwriter/Director,HBO's The Laramie Project

This beautifully structured and tightly edited release is an excellent purchase for college, university, and school libraries as well as large public libraries.

Library Journal

A story of hope and grace rising from the shadow of hate and darkness.

John Eric Rolfstad, Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries


I advise the SDSU Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), and I want you to know how fabulous it was for the two of my students in attendance to see YOU (as well as your excellent film). We have a very small GLBTQ community, and very few out folks. It was just tremendous for all of us, but particularly these two young women, to get to spend time with you this evening.
 

Ruth Harper, Professor of Counseling & Human Development, South Dakota State University, Brookings

The first film to accurately portray how this city reacted to the murder of Matthew Shepard and the huge media uproar that followed...if you can see only one film about this tragic event, see Laramie Inside Out.

Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope

Perfect for college classroom use. By making Laramie, Wyoming a representative American college town that any of us could call home, it reveals hate crimes as never expected but unfortunately all too common in today's world. Most importantly it shows college students and townspeople coming together with bravery and courage to confront hatred and heal the social fabric.

Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, Professor Emerita of Women's Studies and Anthropology, University of Arizona

Laramie Inside Out does a number of things very well. It offers a unique perspective on Matthew Shepard's death, examining what effect it had on the town of Laramie through the eyes of a lesbian who has a personal connection to the town. It challenges easy assumptions about the intolerance of sexual minorities in both small town life and Christianity. It also portrays a range of forms of activism, including marching, silent protest, teaching and just simply coming out...The film brings a significant amount of nuance to the issues it addresses, and this commitment to capturing a range of sometimes contradictory meanings, which is maintained throughout much of the film, is one of its strongest features.

Teaching Sociology

Highly recommended.

Educational Media Reviews Online

Laramie not only provides courageous and touching stories of what it means to be out in the U.S. west, but it also brings out the power and importance of religion in struggles for social and sexual justice.

Janet Jakobsen, Director of the Center for Research on Women, Barnard College, and Co-author, Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance

This film offers a unique perspective on the impact of Matthew Shepard's murder on Laramie, WY, one more complex and accurate than the sensationalized and stereotypical picture the mainstream media often provided. Seckinger's personal experience and filmmaking talent combine to give us a film that demonstrates how grace and honesty can overcome bigotry and fear in the aftermath of great tragedy. Laramie Inside Out gives us hope as we continue the battle against hate and prejudice.

Cathy Renna, Former News Media Director, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

I’ve actually taught your film in conjunction with The Laramie Project in a class on documentary theater/film, and the film provided such an important contrast of perspective on events (as well on documentary storytelling) that I convinced my co-teacher (the director of the show, Jeffrey Storer) to include it in the coursework that the cast/crew undertook for this production.  We watched your film early in the semester as part of a class meeting focused on documentary films/tv programs about Matthew Shepard’s death. It provided us invaluable footage of the “real” people (some of whom also appeared in the play). 

Jules Odendahl-James, Resident Dramaturg, Duke University

Seckinger...discovers a hitherto quiet gay and lesbian community that suddenly found its voice and purpose in the aftermath of the crime.

Video Librarian

Facilitates students and teachers into productive dialogue that might become a catalyst for positive social change.

Teacher Librarian

Rather than dwelling on Shepard's horrific death, the film focuses on the healing process...the positive message of hope and support is comforting, especially to teens and adults confronting their own sexual identity issues.

Booklist

An effective tool for educating people and creating awareness of the struggles that GLBT people face in life, and particularly the discrimination that so often comes from organized religion.

Bob Irland and Jim Guenther, Reconciled in Christ movement, Lutheran Church (ELCA)

A powerful educational tool for anyone interested in the life and death of Matthew Shepard and the emergence of a city that has experienced profound shame, and emerged a more unified and tolerant community.

Melinda Levin, University of North Texas Journal of Film and Video Vol 57, nos. 1-2, Sp/Summer 2005

Thank you again for sharing Laramie Inside Out with us.  I want you to know the people burst into spontaneous applause as the movie ended.  I think they were inspired and filled with hope.

Jami Anderson, Pinedale Wyoming Public Library
Director's Commentary: 

This film was completed in 2004, and over the next several years was screened at dozens of universities, conferences, and community events all over the country.  It soon became clear that the core audiences for Laramie Inside Out were LGBTQ people and their allies in small towns, churches, campuses and classrooms in the heartland. I was fortunate to be able to accompany the film for Q&A at most of these events, and to feel the pulse of change coursing through the culture during those years, as the closet was cracking open in every direction.  The most memorable screenings were not in New York, LA or San Francisco, but places like Grand Haven, Michigan; Emporia, Kansas; and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 

 

For the first several years after the murder, Matthew Shepard was still a household name for LGBTQ people and, it seemed, most American adults.  The Laramie Project was one of the most performed plays in the country for over a decade, and I often met college students who had been in high school productions.  Others had seen the HBO film adaptation of the play, and knew the broad outlines of Matthew’s story. Audiences showed up at screenings to get the Laramie-girl perspective that distinguished my personal documentary from the play, created by the New York based Tectonic Theatre Company.  A handful of screenings were programmed in conjunction with productions of The Laramie Project, which made for thought-provoking discussion about how both the play and the documentary film shaped real people into characters.

 

But as the murder receded farther into the past, there came a moment when the college students at screenings, too young to remember anything about this news story from 1998, had never heard the name Matthew Shepard, and the film gradually morphed from an account of current events into a historical document.  As I watch Laramie Inside Out with students these days, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex marriage, on the eve of the fifth season of Transparent, the world depicted on the screen feels like a different era.  Having come of age in the Obama years, the freshmen in my honors seminar on LGBTQ History through Documentary Film share a matter-of-fact assumption of queer visibility and equality, and take the freedom to be themselves for granted. The film now takes its place among other documentaries that bring the history of the struggle for LGBTQ rights alive for succeeding generations.