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Why the Tragic Murder of Gordon Church Still Matters

Gordon Church Before Matthew Shepard

On November 22, 1988, Gordon Church stopped at a gas station in Cedar City, Utah, where he met Mike Archuleta and Lance Wood. A few hours later, Church was dead because he was gay, his body dumped more than an hour north in Dog Valley.

Why the Gordon Church murder you never heard of matters

Targeted for being gay, Church had been raped, tortured, and bound with tire chains in the trunk of his own car before Archuleta and Wood drove him to a remote area of Millard County and brutally beat him to death with a tire iron.

Writer and social worker Chad Anderson came across Church’s story in his research of LGBT history in Utah. Having grown up gay and Mormon himself, Anderson felt a personal connection to Church and his story, and he resolved to make a documentary about the case. Today Anderson shares an overview of the Gordon Church story, explaining what is known about that night in 1988 and Archuleta and Wood’s bizarre behavior in the hours after the murder. He discusses several of the friends, family and police officers he has interviewed for the documentary and how their lives were forever changed by Church’s violent death.

Anderson gives us insight into what it takes to make a documentary, the expenses involved, and his progress to date. He also speaks to why he chose the documentary format and its power as a visual medium. Listen in to understand the significance of sharing stories of gay hate crimes and how you can get involved in making sure that Gordon Church is never forgotten.

Hear Chad’s passion and persistence in telling the story of  Gordon Church:

To donate or for questions about donating to the making of Church: The Life and Murder of Gordon Church please contact:

Topics Covered on Gordon Church

A brief overview of the Gordon Church case

  • College student in Cedar City, UT
  • Met Archuleta and Wood at gas station (November 1988)
  • Raped, brutally beaten and murdered

Why Chad is drawn to the Gordon Church story

  • Career as writer, teacher and therapist
  • Grew up gay and Mormon himself

The people Chad has interviewed for his Gordon Church documentary

  • College friends close to Gordon
  • Police officers involved in case

Chad’s progress in filming the Gordon Church documentary

  • One-third of filming complete
  • Professional film crew donating time, talent

The funding Chad needs to complete his film on Gordon Church

  • Needs $200K to secure services of crew as primary project

Why Chad chose the documentary format

  • Capture emotion, visuals and sound
  • Life-changing to see faces of people involved

The significance of telling the stories of gay hate crimes

  • Learn from LGBT history
  • Context for understanding what we’ve overcome

The conviction and sentencing of Archuleta and Wood

  • Archuleta received death penalty (Catholic, Hispanic)
  • Wood sentenced to life in prison (Mormon, white)

Connect with Chad Anderson

Resources mentioned

Queer Money™


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