Within a fortnight of a street art mural appearing in Melbourne to coincide with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2021, the local LGBTQI community was shocked earlier this week to find that the installation had been vandalised with graffiti. TheMardi Gras Street Art Murals commissioned by Instagram were unveiled in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne and featured local queer heroes and artists.
The Melbourne mural, located at the corner of Peel Street and Smith Street in Fitzroy, was created by artist Rory Lynch-Wells. The mural featured comedian Jeff van de Zandt, model AJ Clementine, and makeup artist and activist Roshan Nausad.
On Monday morning, locals found that the word “Acceptance” had been crossed out, some text had been spray painted over and the words “Bye”, “Instawhack” and “Lies Money” had been scrawled on the mural.
While it is not clear if the graffiti was intended as a homophobic targeting of the mural featuring LGBTQI+ heroes, this is not the first time that queer street art had been vandalised.
One of the most infamous homophobic vandal attacks in recent times was on the St George mural in Sydney. The mural, that depicted the late singer George Michael as a saint, was defaced following the historic 2017 national vote on marriage equality in Australia.
The vandalism of Melbourne’s queer street art installation , irrespective of whether the motive was homophobic, occurred in a neighbourhood that houses many queer establishments.
“These images are an important part of LGBTIQA+ identity and it is disappointing to see that they’ve been vandalised. We would hope that representations of our community’s pride and diversity would be celebrated, not defaced,” said Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby.
Makeup artist and activist Roshan Nausad, one of the three queer heroes who were featured on the Melbourne mural, said they were disappointed at the mindless vandalism of the artwork.
“It is terrible, and haters will be haters,” Roshan told Star Observer. “It’s disappointing to say the least. It meant so much to be a part of the mural and to be represented as a fellow queer person, but more importantly as a person of colour,” they added.
It is learnt that since the damage to the Melbourne mural is not extensive, it may be repaired.
Each of the five Mardi Gras street art murals had a quote and a QR code that links to the ‘Safe & Strong 2021’ Safety and Well-being Guide for the LGBTQ+ Community on Facebook and Instagram. The guide was launched earlier this month in partnership with Trans Pride Australia, Black Rainbow, ACON, Twenty10, and Minus18.
“I rise to inspire others to live as their true selves” – Michelle Heyman.
To celebrate Mardi Gras, Instagram has partnered with top Australian street artists to create some AMAZING LGBQTI+ murals, like this one! You’ll find it along Bunda Street, right in the 💚 of Canberra. pic.twitter.com/CTq7ksPFVz
— Canberra United (@CanberraUnited) March 3, 2021
The Melbourne mural had the quote, “We Rise for Representation, Courage and Acceptance”. The word acceptance has now been crossed out.