Popular Oxford Street LGBTI nightspot The Midnight Shift was the victim of a brazen homophobic vandal attack in broad daylight earlier this morning, with CCTV footage capturing the offender slowly tagging anti-gay slogans on the front of the bar just prior to midday as unaware crowds walked by.
Midnight Shift licensee Michael D Bourke told the Star Observer that while he was impressed with the vandal’s “artistry,” the incident yet again demonstrated that Oxford Street was not completely safe or no longer a target for homophobic bigots.
In business for over 30 years, The Midnight Shift is the longest running gay venue on Oxford Street and is well-loved for its extravagant drag shows and hosting of LGBTI community functions.
At about 11.06am on Friday, September 13, CCTV captured the unidentified man using a marker to write and draw several phrases and images.
In one tag subtitled “The Gays,” the offender suggests: “Men should not engage in homosexual sex with one another!”
Another reads: “Pussy is delicious!! A gift from God,” while a crude picture of male genitalia is adorned with the words, “An ugly, ugly dick”.
Local police are aware of the vandalism.
Speaking to the Star Observer soon after the incident, Bourke said that while staff and patrons of The Midnight Shift had been, at times, the victims of verbal homophobic harassment, in the four years he had been with the venue it was the first time that a physical attack had occurred.
“It’s the one venue on Oxford Street that has such a solid history on the strip, and if people want to go down the religious track I think it’s a bit sacrilegious to do this to The Midnight Shift,” Bourke said.
“I think at the end of the day it just proves that we are not on a safe strip as everyone sometimes thinks we are. There are still people like this out there and homophobia still exists. Perhaps people don’t expect to see it in the heart of Sydney.”
Although the victim of the vandal’s “handiwork,” Bourke told the Star Observer that he could find some humour in the incident.
“I’ve looked at the footage and he was just calmly going about his business. For people walking past it may have looked like something the bar was paying for,” he explained.
“It was actually quite creative. It only took him about six minutes to do it. It wasn’t just scrawl, there was a kind of artistic merit to it.
“He didn’t use a permanent marker, so it was quite easy to remove.”
Asked for his opinion on who the vandal might be or what was behind his anti-gay message, Bourke said it was all still a mystery.
“It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. There was a reference to God and how men sleeping with men was not a good option … Sometimes I tend to agree,” Bourke joked. “It’s not going to change the rest of my day.
“Looking at the footage, he didn’t look unkempt or obviously homeless. From the style of his work, I’d say he is an artist of some sort. I suspect you will see it again, and I suspect you may see it again on our window.”
The graffiti has now been cleared by management at The Midnight Shift with tonight’s events at the venue due to take place as scheduled.