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murders of Allen Schindler, Matthew Shepard, Billy Jack Gaither, Barry Winchell
and others are impacting the national psyche in curious ways, and I became focused
on a series of paintings that interpret them from my own imagination. Far from
being simple crimes, other factors such as economics, politics, religion, and
societal mores influenced each of these men, their killers, and the ensuing
events. As a result, the news of their deaths and the circumstances surrounding
them created widespread public interest; in some cases outrage, in other cases
celebration. And overall a hardening of attitudes both positive and negative
regarding gays and lesbians and their place in American society and culture.
It is perhaps remarkable that during two of the subsequent murder trials the
so-called Gay Panic defense was either thrown out by the judge (Shepard's)
or ignored (Gaither's).