Manchester’s gay village has come together to show that it will not be defeated by vile homophobic graffiti that has been smeared over artwork on two walls of Canal Street.
On Saturday evening, visitors to the area noticed that the words “dirty b ******” and “666” had been written on two murals, with the swear word misspelled.
One mural, featuring a host of LGBT + icons such as Alan Turing, Emmeline Panhurst and Manchester drag queen Foo Foo Lammar was targeted while another featured RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Divina de Campo .
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Speaking to MEN, the drag queen said she refused to take vandalism to heart.
“Of course, when I heard that this had happened for the first time, I felt a kind of middle way, but is it an attack on me personally? No it’s not, ”said Divina.
“It’s bigger and more important than that. They don’t know who I am, so it’s not an attack on me personally, but it’s an attack on LGBT + people.
Divina, who abseiled a 19-story hotel building in Manchester on Saturday, said the action underscored the importance of pride to her.
“For me, that only re-energizes that argument as to why there is always a need for pride,” she explains.
“People often say we don’t need pride anymore or ask why there isn’t pure pride, but it’s actually things like this that highlight that there is still a need for this.
“In the eyes of the law, gays, bisexuals and lesbians have full equality, but trans people do not.
“I don’t know of straight guys who have to see a doctor to confirm they’re who they say they are.
“Laws change much faster than societal protections – that’s a big part of that.
“There are still a lot of people who consider it a sin to be gay, which is why they wrote 666 on the murals.
“They try to make it look like being gay is like being the devil.
Nick Franklin, an artist who lives in Lymm, was visiting the Gay Village on Saturday with his fiance and friend.
He said it was the first time they had been to Canal Street in over 17 months and had had a great day until they spotted the graffiti.
“I walked around and just saw the graffiti on the big mural and thought it was a bit dark,” Nick says.
“It’s just the fact that someone clearly felt the need to leave their house with a can of spray paint with the intention of going out to disrupt a community.
“You don’t expect to go out on Canal Street and have rainbow tinted glasses, there will be trash and there will be vandalism, but when you know it’s targeted it just takes a bit. of garbage during the day. “
As an artist, Nick – who once created artwork from tiles from the original Rovers Return to raise money for the We Love Manchester fund – says he also feels compassion for artists whose work has been damaged.
He added, “From an artist’s perspective, it’s someone’s time and effort and the mural was probably funded by the community itself.
“I just think it’s such a huge visual against the community – it really wasn’t cool.”
Fortunately, Manchester advisers have come together to quickly repair the damage caused by the graffiti.
Downtown Councilor Jon-Connor Lyons, who represents the Piccadilly neighborhood, said the artwork was created by ‘cowards’ and said he would speak to police about it.
“We are just shocked that this could happen in a city as tolerant as Manchester,” Councilor Lyons said.
“Thinking back to other similar incidents, such as what happened with the George Floyd mural, GMP has managed to apprehend those responsible, so we will work alongside them in the hope of achieving a similar result.
“We cover it and the artwork will be restored.
“We don’t want this to have a lasting income for the community and, in fact, I’ve seen a lot of people say it will make us stronger.
“This is not the city we know, it is not at all representative of Manchester.”
Earl Pat Karney, spokesperson for the city center town hall, added that it would be cleaned up as soon as possible.
Carl Austin-Behan, LGBT + adviser to Mayor Andy Burnham, said he had worked alongside local councilors and original artists to rectify the graffiti.
“We have been in contact with the board and with the original artists of Nomad Clan who want to make sure this is put on right away,” he said.
“This might require a first touch up initially and maybe we will have to consider what needs to be done to properly and correctly restore both works of art.”
Carl said the swift response from the council and the village showcased the spirit of Manchester at its best.
He explains: “It shows the fact that Manchester’s LGBT + community and its allies have come together to make sure that we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior.
“It is not acceptable in our city to degrade something like this that is so important to our community.”
Carl added that the “disgusting” graffiti was also disrespectful to Alan Turing, who is said to have celebrated his 109th birthday this week.
He said: “Just 100 yards from the mural, there are hundreds of flowers in Sackville Gardens celebrating his life.
“He’s been recognized on the new £ 50 note, but we have these stupid idiots degrading and graffiti his artwork.
“It’s just really embarrassing.”
Hayley Garner, one of the original artists who created the mural outside Molly House eight years ago, said the plan was to remove the artwork on Monday.
“It is important for us to eliminate hate,” said Hayley.
“I don’t think there is room for that, especially for a place like Canal Street that accepts everyone so much.
“We will be covering the hateful writings on the Molly House mural and hopefully we can do something positive in the area to state that such graffiti is not working.
“Every cloud has a silver lining. The way to beat hate is to knock it over and make sure something positive comes out of it.”