As I wrote earlier, I painted Allegory of a Gay Bashing back around 2000 for an exhibit called “Too Queer”. There is much speculation about the painting, and the puppy and the kitten – and why such trite characters appear in such a horrific tableau.
The puppy and the kitten represent many things. The painting itself is a take on a crucifixion, which I use on occasion. In most paintings of the event, there are several supporting characters – mainly being Mary Magdalene, and Jesus’ mother, so on a compositional level, the animals take their place.
At the time I did the painting, the death of Matthew Sheppard was fresh in everyone’s mind, it was a shock to us in the gay community, a horrific beating and death at the hands of brutal, dumbshit rednecks. In the photographs he appeared so young, cute, and sweet looking, and so delicate and vulnerable. He was so unprepared and unable to protect himself against his attackers. Hmmm…
I did not want this to be a painting of Matthew – and went to great lengths so that no one could mistake it for his face. It was an allegory of all gay bashings and hate crimes. At the time I recall thinking that the republicans, and Christians, and dumbshit rednecks (Oh My!), would like our sexuality removed – not just kill us or make us disappear, but to completely and cleanly make our sexuality disappear. This is why it’s so neatly sewn back together, forming a heart. You can read more into all of this of course. Remove the sexuality – solve the problems – love the sinner – hate the sin. And since the genitals are the center of all this – just cleanly remove them – voila.
This is just a small part of the thought process that went on behind the scenes. I spent at least a couple weeks on the painting and thought about it from many angles. There isn’t room here to elaborate fully, so these few highlights will hopefully suffice. Ideally, the viewers should decide what they are feeling–and contemplate what this and other art means to them–rather than trying to figure out what the artist is trying to say.