When Romaine Arrived at St. Marks Church in Casper, Wyoming for Matthew’s
Memorial service she was shocked by what she found outside standing across
the street. It had been said that, due to the massive media attention
Matthew’s death had garnered, there were going to be protests at
the service. No one could have prepared Romaine for the hate she would
see that day.
As the snow fell and people crowded around the church, Romaine couldn’t
take her eyes away from the neon colored signs that stood out in bright
contrast to the snow. A baptist minister by the name of Fred Phelps led
the small group of protesters holding signs reading, “God hates
Fags”, “Matt in hell”, “AIDS cures Fags”
among many others. On a day of mourning Romaine was only reminded of the
hate that took the life of her dear friend.
In early April, 1999 the trials for Matthew’s accussed killers
began. Upon hearing the rumor that Fred Phelps intended to protest outside
the court house, Romaine came up with an idea. She founded Angel Action
a peaceful protest in order to share a message of peace, compassion and
love in a time where everyone was focused on the issue of hate.
Fred Phelps showed up in Laramie with a dozen “God Hates Fags”
picketers, but he was quickly silenced when Romaine’s angels showed
up at the court house. Phelps and his group were surrounded by a dozen
counter-demonstrators in flowing white angel costumes with 10-foot wingspans
rising seven feet high. The angels turned their backs on Phelps, smiled
and silently blocked him from the view of passersby at that time. The
impact that the angels had on the residents of Laramie would not be felt
until much later when the angels started getting requests for “do
it yourself” angel kits to be used all over the country.
Angel Action has been depicted in both the film versions of, “The
Laramie Project” (HBO) and “The Matthew Shepard Story”
(This is the first press release)
April 5, 1999, Laramie, Wyoming
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Romaine Patterson. I am
from Denver Colorado. And I am the bearer of a message:
Before you stands a band of angels. They come from a number
of backgrounds: they don't represent any one group; they don't represent
any one religion, sex, race, age, or sexual orientation. They are merely
a group of people who joined with me because they believe in honesty and
truth. So often we find that people are willing to make a lot of noise
about what they believe to be true. We don't believe that we have to say
anything at all. Aside from this brief explanatory statement, our actions
will speak for themselves. Just one look and the truth is plainly clear.
Our focus is to bring forth a message of peace and love. Hatred is running
rampant through our everyday lives. But as a group, we choose to lift
ourselves above that hatred. We feel as so many others do, that love and
compassion for our community and our humanity are the answers that so
many people are desperately searching for.
And so we bring forth a message- from God, if you will:
Love, respect, and compassion, for everyone is why we are here today.
I could no longer sit idly by and watch others bring forth messages that
were nothing more than vindictive and hate-filled. As a young person,
I feel it necessary to show the great nation that we live in that there
doesn't need to be this kind of violence and hatred in our world. And
that loving one another doesn't mean that we have to compromise our beliefs;
it simply means that we choose to be compassionate and respectful of others.
With that said, I would like to now rejoin my angels silently,
bringing forth our gift to you.
If you have any questions, I will be available later today. Thank you
for your time, and God bless.