The Passion of Matthew Shepard © William Hart McNichols St. Andrei Rublev IconsMatthew Shepard died 10 years ago today, bringing international attention to anti-gay hate crimes. In his memory I post this icon by Father William Hart McNichols. The striking image is based on the report of the officer who found Matthew after he was beaten and left to die -- covered with blood except for where the tears ran down. Fr. 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. 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. Now the Matthew Shepard Foundation seeks to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance. Fr. McNichols’ own moving spiritual journey and two of his icons are included in my book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.