There wasn't any openly gay students in my early years of high school, and when I graduated in 2001, only one openly gay student.
In my first years of high school, I had no awareness of homophobia. Like many of my peers, we made homophobic jokes and taunts at each other.
Then the horrible and shocking murder of Matthew Shepard happened, my peers and I were shocked. We discussed it, we became more aware of our words and behaviour - which is not to say that we become LGBTQ friendly, we only scaled back our taunts, but they still existed.
It was a moment in time, one that shocked a society that was not tolerant. It didn't change anything immediately, it was the moment that I first recall the media discussing LGBTQ rights as an issue, not a novelty.
This week, I was moved as I read that Matthew Shepard's remains have finally found a resting place. They were interred at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday, it's disturbing to me that it took 20 years for his family to find a suitable and safe location to lay to rest their loved one.
Here's the Associated Press story on the internment.