Act Three opens with different characters talking about their experiences at Matthew’s funeral. Matt Galloway speaks first, saying that the day of the funeral was snowy, and the funeral took place in two different churches— one for the immediate family and friends, and one for everyone else who wanted to go. According to Matt, both churches were full and people overflowed into a nearby park, which also filled up. A priest and a crowd of people play out the funeral service on stage, with the priest leading the prayers. Tiffany Edwards says the snowstorm that day was a very big one. Tiffany thought it was “the forces of the universe at work.”
As characters describe Matthew’s funeral, it is clear that, like at the Homecoming Parade, Matthew has generated widespread support that represents a more general support for the LGBT community. As Tiffany Edwards says that she saw the snowstorm as “the force of the universe at work,” she invokes an intense spiritualism that she associates with Matthew’s story, although it is not specifically referred to as God.
Kerry Drake, a reporter, talks about how Reverend Fred Phelps, the leader of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, protested the funeral. An actor playing Fred Phelps preaches about God’s hatred. Kerry Drake talks about how a group of high schoolers started to yell at the protestors. One of the counter-protestors was wearing leather and spikes and Kerry thought there would be a fight, but instead the counter-protestor led the group in singing “Amazing Grace.” Meanwhile, the actor playing Fred Phelps rants with homophobic slurs about how gay people are using Matthew’s murder to promote the “gay lifestyle.”
Fred Phelps’s appearance at the funeral represents the most hateful and violent versions of religion. Phelps, who is a well-know extremist Baptist minister, protests Matthew’s funeral. Notably, one counter-protestor is a man who Kerry implies did not look like he would be an LGBT advocate. Kerry’s surprise at the counter-protestor’s good deeds exemplifies the importance of accepting and being open-minded to differences in general, not just LGBT people.
The narrator states that, six months after the funeral, the company went back to Laramie for Russell Henderson’s trial, where Fred Phelps was also protesting. Romaine Patterson, who was a friend of Matthew Shepard’s, decided to organize a counter-protest for the trial. She talks about how she got a group of people to dress as angels and encircle Phelps and his followers, completely blocking him from view. Romaine, not wanting the counter-protestors to hear Phelps’s hate speech, also bought the angels earplugs.
Romaine, inspired by the counter-protestors at Matthew’s funeral, organizes a counter-protest to Phelps at Russell’s trial. Interestingly, and like the group that sang “Amazing Grace,” the counter-protestors take up religious imagery in combatting Phelps. The protestors and counter-protests represent two clashing visions of Christianity as either defined by love or by fear and hatred.