Recently, an artist named Samuel Leighton-Dore painted a cute mural in The University of Sydney’s graffiti tunnel as part of an art installation called Queer Attack.
The mural depicted queer, sexually explicit material and was only up for one day before some ninny took offence and had the whole thing painted over.
The installation’s curator, Lucy Le Masurier, wrote: “The point of this work, and all the works in the tunnel, was to provide Queer and LGBT+ awareness. Even more so, it was about visibility of our bodies and our experiences. The erasure of Sam’s work speaks volumes to the level of acceptance around our LGBT+ identities.”
You know what lasted way longer on that wall? A bunch of swastikas.
Somehow, racist tags are less offensive than an artful depiction of queer bodies. This sends a clear message, and I challenge anybody to try and defend the erasure of this mural when some of the most racist shit I’ve ever seen continues to pollute the university toilets, hallways and of course, the graffiti tunnel itself.
Somehow, racist tags are less offensive than an artful depiction of queer bodies.
In some cases it takes weeks to get this stuff scrubbed off. Other artists have taken it upon themselves to cover up the swastikas or racist epithets because the dweebs in charge of looking after this – the dweebs who have a duty of care – are too busy looking the other way.
Le Masurier posted a particularly poignant statement on the issue and addressed the people responsible for the artwork’s erasure: “Dear Walnut(s), consider your outrage: you erased a cartoon of love and equality. You censored a scene embracing body and gender diversity. The fact that a cartoon of queer love could be deemed offensive to the point of censorship is so typical of our political state at the moment that I have to laugh. Because it’s laugh or cry. I hope your knee jerk reaction of ‘disgust’ over our queer love-in leaves you sleepless, because your actions speak hateful volumes to our community.
We meant nothing but good from this mural, this tunnel, and this space. Huge love to everyone positively involved and the rest of our community.”
The queer mural was barely offensive in terms of its subject matter, and the fact that it was taken down so fast is indicative of a tasteless cherry picking. Racism is okay; boobs are not okay. Expressions of hatred are okay, expressions of queer sexuality are not okay.
The queer mural was barely offensive in terms of its subject matter, and the fact that it was taken down so fast is indicative of a tasteless cherry picking.
There’s no hidden meaning here; nothing deeper. Scratch the surface and you’ll just find garden-variety indignation over the fact that queer people are having a good time, and that must be snuffed out. The pearl-clutching, eyebrow-raising and righteous gasping makes up a chorus of puritanical noise that functions illogically and frustratingly.
There is little by way of harm prevention at work here, so where was all this hand-wringing when swastikas plastered the walls? Surely those symbols cause more harm than an errant cartoon penis flying through the air amongst flowers and butterflies.
Header photo credit: Brianna Elton.