Galeria de la Raza staff and dozens of volunteers spent Thursday restoring a mural of two same-sex couples and a transgender individual that had been defaced.
In addition, staff at the gallery say they’ve recently received homophobic hate speech and physical threats online.
The digital mural, at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets on the outer wall of the gallery, was placed at the location Friday evening in light of this month’s San Francisco Pride celebration and The Q-Sides, a photo exhibition inside the building.
Monday night, however, gallery staff discovered the red and blue lines drawn over the two same-sex couples on the mural, and the following night, found the transgender image crossed out, Galeria spokesman Henry Pacheco said. And last weekend, the gallery’s social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook received derogatory comments, ranging from homophobic posts to claims that LGBT people do not come from the Latino community.
Most alarming, Pacheco said, were posts threatening mural artist Manuel Paul, a member of the Los Angeles-based Maricon Collective. Whoever made the online threats used pictures of the artist and images of T-shirts the collective had made.
“What this means is that there is still work that needs to be done in our community to unite and not separate or divide us,” Pacheco said. “LGBT folks are part of the Latino community — have always been and will always be and we’re committed to continue to talk about social issues that affect this community.”
Those responsible for the vandalism had not been found as of Thursday afternoon. Gallery staff, who have reported the crime to the San Francisco Police Department, plan to install security cameras near the mural, which is slated to remain on the wall through mid-July.
In 2000, the gallery had a digital mural featuring a lesbian couple that was also defaced.