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Two weeks after they realized the violent manner in which their lives had intersected years before, Tim was supposed to give a presentation at the Museum of Tolerance for a group of children. "I explained to them that I had done a lot of things in my life," he says. Tim then introduced Matt. "'And this is a former victim of one of my hate crimes.' And I apologized at that moment."

When Tim apologized for the first time, Matt says was so overcome with emotion that he had to leave the room. He then began trying to forgive Tim. "It wasn't overnight, you know. It was a process," he says. "It's a self-serving reason to forgive somebody—I didn't do it so Tim would feel better. I did it so I could heal. In forgiving Tim … and just over time, I realized that there were two different people—the 17-year-old who carried out that act of violence, and the man he is today who is trying to help others."

To test Tim's change of heart, Matt invited him to a barbecue—and didn't tell him that this barbecue was going to be attended by 60 gay men! Tim admits that he felt awkward at first, but that he got over it and a great time.

While he works to educate others about the dangers of hate, Tim says he still deals with the lingering effects of his own destructive past, including the effect it has had on his son.
FROM: Left for Dead: The Gay Man Who Befriended His Attacker
Published on January 01, 2006


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