Quotations from The Laramie Project This section contains text taken from the script of The Laramie Project. The titles that begin each section (e.g., “Seeds of Hatred”) are based around the topics of discussion suggested in this study guide. These selected quotes will help facilitate discussion as they each relate to the discussion topic.
FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE
JEFFREY LOCKWOOD: My secret hope was that they were from somewhere else, that then of course you can create that distance. We don’t grow children like that here. Well, its pretty clear that we do grow children like that here.
DR. CANTWAY: I was working the emergency room that night Matthew Shepard was
brought in. I don’t think, that any of us, ah, can remember seeing a patient in that condition for a long time – those of us who’ve worked in big city hospitals have seen this. Ah, but we have some people here who’ve not worked in a big city hospital. And, ah, it’s not something you expect here.
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DR. CANTWAY: Your first thought is… well certainly you’d like to think that it’s somebody from out of town, that comes through and beats somebody. I mean, things like this happen, you know, shit happens, and it happens in Laramie. But if there’s been somebody who has been beaten repeatedly, ah, certainly this is something that offends us. I think that’s a good word. It
* * *
ZUBAIDA ULA: And it was so good to be with people who felt like shit. I kept feeling like I don’t deserve to feel this bad, you know? And someone got up there and said to us – he said um, blah blah blah blah blah blah and then he said, I’m saying it wrong, but basically he said, c’mon guys, lets show the world that Laramie is not this kind of town. But it is that kind of town. If it wasn’t this kind of town, why did this happen here? I mean, you know what I mean, like – that’s a lie. Because it happened here. So how could it not be a town where this kind of thing happens? Like, that’s just totally – like, looking at an Escher painting and getting all confused like, it’s totally like circular logic, like how can you even say that? And we have to mourn this and we have to be sad that we live in a town, a state, a country where shit like this happens. I mean, these are people trying to distance themselves from this crime. And we need to own this crime. I feel. Everyone needs to own it. We are like this. We ARE like this. WE are LIKE this.
SEEDS OF HATRED
GREG PIEROTTI: We are to meet Father Roger at seven-thirty in the morning. I was wishing we could skip it all together, but we have to follow through to the end. So here we go. Seventhirty A.M., two queers and a Catholic Priest.
FATHER ROGER SCHMIT: Matthew Shepard has served us well. You realize that? He has served us well. And I do not mean to condemn Matthew to perfection, but I cannot mention anyone who has done more for this community than Matthew Shepard.
And I’m not gonna sit here and say, “I was just this bold guy, no fear.” I was scared – I was very vocal in this community when this happened – and I thought, “You know, should we, uh, should we call the bishop and ask his permission to do the vigil?” And I was like, “Hell, no, I’m not going to do that.” His permission doesn’t make it correct, you realize that? And I’m not knocking bishops, but what is correct is correct.
You people are just out here on a search though. I will do this, I will trust you people that if you write a play of this, that you (pause) say it right, say it correct. I think you have a responsibility to do that. Don’t – don’t – don’t, um, (Pause) don’t make matters worse… you think violence is what they did to Matthew – they did do violence to Matthew – but, you know, every time that you are called a fag, or you are called a, you know, a lez or whatever…
LEIGH FONDAKOWSKI: Or a dyke.
FATHER ROGER SCHMIT: Dyke, yeah dyke. Do you realize that is violence? That is the seed of violence. And I would resent it immensely if you use anything I said, uh, you know, to – to somehow cultivate that kind of violence, even in its smallest form – I would resent it immensely. You need to know that.
LEIGH FONDAKOWSKI: Thank you, Father, for saying that.
FATHER ROGER SCHMIT: Just deal with what is true. You know what is true. You need to do your best to say it correct.
* * *
RULON STACEY: Um, and then we started to get people sending us e-mails and letters. And most of them were just generally very kind. But I did get this one. This guy wrote me and said, “Do you cry like a baby on TV for all of your patients or just the faggots?” And as I told you before, homosexuality is not a lifestyle with which I agree. Um, but having been thrown into this. (Pause) I guess I didn’t understand the magnitude with which some people hate.
* * *
ZACKIE SALMON: When that defense team argued that McKinney did what he did because
Matthew made a pass at him… I just wanted to vomit because that’s like saying that it’s okay. It’s like the Twinkie Defense, when the guy killed Harvey Milk and Moscone. It’s the same thing
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REBECCA HILLIKER: As much as, uh, part of me didn’t want the defense of them saying that it was gay bashing or that it was gay panic, part of me is really grateful. Because I was really scared that in the trial they were going to try and say that it was a robbery, or it was about drugs. So when they used “gay panic” as their defense, I felt this is good, if nothing else the truth is going to be told… the truth is coming out.
“LIVE AND LET LIVE”
MARGE MURRAY: As far as the gay issue, I don’t give a damn one way or the other as long as they don’t bother me. And even if they did, I’d just say no thank you. And that’s the attitude of most of the Laramie population. They might poke one, if they were in a bar situation you know, they had been drinking, they might actually smack one in the mouth, but then they’d just walk away. Most of ‘em said they would just say, “I don’t swing that way,” and whistle on about their business. Laramie is live and let live.
CATHERINE CONNOLLY: I said, you know, “This is Catherine Connolly returning your call.” And she said, “Oh. It’s you.” And I thought, “This is bizarre.” And she said, “I hear – I hear – I hear you’re gay. I hear you are.” I was like, “Uh huh.” And she said, “I hear you came as a couple, I’m one too. Not a couple, just a person.” And so – she was – a kind of lesbian who knew who I was and wanted to come over and meet me immediately. And later she told me that there were other lesbians that she knows who wouldn’t be seen with me. That I would irreparably taint them; just to be seen with me could be a problem.
* * *
JONAS SLONAKER: But I kept telling myself, people should live where they want to live. And there would be times I would go down to Denver and I would go to gay bars and, um, people would ask where I was from and I’d say, “Laramie, Wyoming.” And I met so many men down there from Wyoming. So many gay men who grew up here and they’re like, this is not a place where I can live, how can you live there, I had to get out, grrr, grrr, grrr. But every once in a while there would be a guy, “Oh gosh, I miss Laramie. I mean, I really love it there, that’s where I want to live. And they get this starry-eyed look and I’m like, if that’s where you want to live, do it. I mean, imagine if more gay people stayed in small towns… But it’s easier said than done, of course.
* * *
SGT HING: How could this happen? I – I think a lot of people just don’t understand, and even I don’t’ really understand, how someone can do something like that. We have one of the most vocal populations of gay people in the state… And it’s pretty much. Live and let live.
* * *
REBECCA HILLIKER: You know, I really love my students because they are free thinkers – and you may not like what they have to say, and you may not like their opinions, because they can be very redneck, but they are honest and they’re truthful – so there’s an excitement here, there’s a dynamic here with my students that I never had when I was in the Midwest or in North Dakota, because there, there was so much Puritanism that dictated how people looked at the world that a lot of times they didn’t have an opinion, you couldn’t get them to express an
opinion. And quite honestly, I’d rather have opinions that I don’t like – and have that dynamicin education.
* * *
JONAS SLONAKER: And it’s even in some of the Western literature, you know, live and let live.That is such crap. I tell my friends that – even my gay friends bring it up sometimes. I’m like,“That is crap, you know?” I mean basically what it boils down to: If I don’t tell you I’m a fag, youwon’t beat the crap out of me. I mean, what’s so great about that? That’s a great philosophy?
SGT HING: It’s a good place to live. Good people, lots of space. Now, when the incident
happened with that boy, a lot of press people came here. And one time some of them followed me out to the crime scene. And, uh, well, it was a beautiful day, absolutely gorgeous day, real clear and crisp and the sky was that blue that, uh…you know, you’ll never be able to paint, it’s just sky blue – it’s just gorgeous. And the mountains in the background and a little snow on ‘em, and this one reporter, uh, lady… person, that, was out there, she said…
REPORTER: “Well, who found the boy, who was out here anyway?”
SGT HING: And I said, “Well, this is a really popular area for people to run and mountain
biking’s really big out here, horseback riding, it’s just, well, it’s close to town.” And she looked at me and said:
REPORTER: “Who in the hell would want to run out here?”
SGT HING: And I’m thinking, “Lady, you’re just missing the point.” You know, all you got to do is turn around, see the mountains, smell the air, listen to the birds, just take in what’s around you. And they were just – nothing but the story. I didn’t feel judged, I felt that they were stupid. They’re, they’re missing the point – they’re just missing the whole point.
JEDADIAH SCHULTZ: If you would have asked me before, I would have told you, Laramie is a beautiful town, secluded enough that you have your own identity… A town with a strong sense of community – everyone knows everyone… A town with a personality that most larger cities are stripped of. Now, after Matthew, I would say that Laramie is a town defined by an accident, a crime. We’ve become Waco, we’ve become Jasper. We’re a noun, a definition, a sign. We may be able to get rid of that… but it will sure take awhile.
* * *
JON PEACOCK: More and more details came in about the sheer brutality, um, motivations, how this happened. And then quite frankly the media descended and there was no time to reflect on it anymore.
* * *
JON PEACOCK: It was huge. Yeah. It was herds and – and we’re talking hundreds of reporters which makes a huge dent in this town’s population. There’s reporters everywhere, news trucks everywhere on campus, everywhere in town. And we’re not used to that type of attention to begin with. We’re not used to that type of exposure.
* * *
SGT HING: You’ve got the beginning of the news story where they have the graphics in the background, and they’ve got, “Murder in Wyoming,” and Wyoming’s dripping red like it’s got blood on it or something, and it’s like what’s the – what is this, this is sensationalism. And…we’re here going, “Wait a minute. We had the guys in jail in less than a day, I think that’s pretty damn good.”
* * *
TIFFANY EDWARDS: Look, I do think that, um, the media actually made people accountable. Because they made people think. Because people were sitting in their homes, like watching TV and listening to CNN and watching Dan Rather and going, “Jesus Christ, well that’s not how it is here.” Well, how is it here?