AIDS Crucifixion by William Hart McNichols © 1986
Christ hangs on the cross below a sign saying, “AIDS, homosexual, faggot, pervert, Sodomite” in a powerful drawing by Father William Hart McNichols.
A man waves a Bible at the dying Jesus, symbolizing the conservative Christians who claimed that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay. Jesus identifies completely with the suffering of gay AIDS patients in the drawing.
McNichols is an iconographer and Roman Catholic priest based in New Mexico. “AIDS Crucifixion” grows out of his experience working at an AIDS hospice in New York City from 1983-90.
I am pleased to highlight this important drawing here at the Jesus in Love Blog. It may be the first artwork ever to link Christ on the cross with the word “faggot.” The point is not so much that Jesus is gay, but that Jesus is crucified again whenever anyone expresses hatred for LGBT people -- or other groups.
McNichols drew “AIDS Crucifixion” in 1986, but it is not widely available. In granting permission to post it here, even his agent reported that the high-quality digital file has been lost in the art studio computer storage.
When McNichols drew “AIDS Crucifixion,” there was no effective treatment for AIDS and many people were dying of the disease. New drugs can vastly extend the lives of people with AIDS, but not everyone has access to them. AIDS is still a life-threatening disease and it has grown into a global pandemic.
McNichols has also written and illustrated a moving “Stations of the Cross of a Person With AIDS.” See it online at: