Michele

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's message

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!!!!! 

I AM Michele.

I AM Michele.

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 and Matt at TASIS

Michele and Matt at TASIS

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.

Matt and his Mom, Judy Shepard.

Matt and his Mom, Judy Shepard.

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.

[vimeo 76594178]

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.

Josue with the Shepards and Shane Bitney Crone of Bridegroom Movie. Dennis Shepard, Judy Shepard, Shane Bitney Crone, Michele Josue, Linda Hierholzer Karn, Arleen McGlade and Liam McNiff in Las Vegas, NV

Josue with the Shepards and Shane Bitney Crone of Bridegroom Movie. Dennis Shepard, Judy Shepard, Shane Bitney Crone, Michele Josue, Linda Hierholzer Karn, Arleen McGlade and Liam McNiff in Las Vegas, NV

Michele Josue in Laramie

Michele Josue in Laramie

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.

Poem

A Poem by Matt

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.

Michele and Liam

Michele and Liam

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 imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

Share this story or Like “I’m soo proud of you!” on facebook.

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3 thoughts on “Michele

  1. Michele Josue, I never cried so much before until now. I read this article and watched the clip is outstanding work. The music is spot on also. Please let me know once you get the rest done and on DVD. I want to buy a copy. Your work on this is outstanding. Thank you so much for that.

  2. I remember the day on the news when it wAs reported about Matthew. I didn’t know him but my soul sank. I started to cry why would this be happening. I live in Phoenix and at the time I had just recently moved here I felt I needed to be at the hospital to give support to his family and friends the day I was ready to board a plan I heard on the newS he had passed. Taken to soon. An angel looking Down. The hatred needs to stop. Rest in piece Matthew

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