Matthew Shepard: Modern gay martyr and hate-crime victim

“The Passion of Matthew Shepard” by William Hart McNichols, ©www.fatherbill.org

Matthew Shepard (1976-1998) brought international attention to anti-gay hate crimes when he died on Oct. 12, 1998.

Shepard was a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming at the time of his death. He was brutally attacked near Laramie, Wyoming, on Oct. 6-7, 1998 by two men who later claimed that they were driven temporarily insane by “gay panic” due to Shepard’s alleged sexual advances.

Shepard was beaten and left to die. The officer who found him said that he was covered with blood — except for the white streaks left by his tears. Father William Hart McNichols created a striking icon based on his report. McNichols dedicated his icon The Passion of Matthew Shepard to the 1,470 gay and lesbian youth of commit suicide in the U.S. each year, and to the countless others who are injured or murdered.

Now the Matthew Shepard Foundation seeks to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. U.S. President Obama signed “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” into law on Oct. 28, 2009. It broadens the federal hate-crimes law to cover violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity

-continue reading at  Jesus in Love Blog

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