Documentary filmmaker Michele Josue is a lovely person and a devoted friend. I’m honored to tell you about her.
First, I have to share about how we met! Last week, I received a very special message on Facebook.
Liam connected me with Michele via email. He explained to her how he read my blog and recommended I write about her because he’s proud of her. Michele replied, agreeing to meet with me, and added this: “P.S. And, Liam, thanks for saying you are proud of me:) That’s really, really sweet and made my day.”
One of my intentions writing this blog is to encourage others to tell each other that they’re proud of them. Success!!!!!
Sitting down with Michele for coffee, we rolled right into ‘share mode,’ talking like we were old friends catching up on our lives. I quickly discovered that we both have the unique background of growing up an expat. She went to TASIS in Switzerland and I went to ISB in Belgium. Although we were in different countries having our own experience, we totally got one another. It’s intense to be an American abroad. There’s something about leaving home, or the homeland, that makes you vulnerable and way more open to connection. Travelers make fast friends, anyone who’s ever taken an adventure has a story of bonding with someone they met on the road. Michele and I both did that in Junior High and High School, as did her friend Matt.
Michele’s friend Matt was sweet, funny, kind, and outgoing. He loved to act, and the two friends often performed opposite each other in school plays, and even went to prom together. In 1998 Matt became know to the world as Matthew Shepard, the 21 year-old victim of one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in America.
His horrific death devastated Michele, who was in Boston going to film school at the time. She watched with the rest of the world, as Matt become Matthew Shepard, an icon whose murder opened our eyes to anti-gay hate crimes.
For years Michele felt inspired to get Matt’s story out there; she wanted people to know who he was and how loved he was by her and all their friends at TASIS.
She decided to honor him and set out to make the documentary film, Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine.
It’s heartfelt and heart breaking. Watching protestors outside of Matt’s funeral made me so angry. Michele witnessed them first hand. Making the film meant reliving those memories and mourning the loss of her friend all over again. Despite the emotionally raw journey, she saw it through, and last fall, “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine” had a bicoastal world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Washington National Cathedral.
In the film, Michele reads from Matt’s journal entries. I related to the world-traveled young man trying to find his way. He was sensitive and seeking. I think we would have been good friends.
Thank you Michele, for allowing me to know Matt. I cried for him, his family and his friends. While, I realize you’ll never be healed from your loss, I believe your film can change hearts and minds.
Michele, I’m soo proud of you.
Liam, I’m proud of you too. Thank you for reaching out and asking me to write about Michele.
I am also so proud of Matt’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard. They embody grace. Turning their grief into action, they founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs, and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to “Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, & Acceptance”.
Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org