'America needs to get it together': Vandals deface WeHo LGBTQ portraits, bringing artist to tears

Leo Stallworth Image
Thursday, June 15, 2023
'America needs to get it together': Vandals deface WeHo portraits
Vandals target a public art exhibition on the Sunset Strip celebrating Drag Queens.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Vandals targeted a public art exhibition on the Sunset Strip celebrating drag queens in West Hollywood, leaving the artist fearing for her safety and wondering how people could be so nasty to each other.

More than a dozen life-sized photos from an essay on the second West Hollywood Halloween street celebration in the 1980s have been burned, gouged and covered in graffiti after Pride week celebrations.

The artist, who did not want to be publicly identified, was brought to tears over the defacing.

"I just think the energy of the country just sucks. It's like America needs to get it together, I don't know why people have to be so nasty to each other," the artist said.

The artist said she fears people who cannot see past hate for the LGBTQ community.

"Some of the images were burned and they were gouged with some kind of instrument. It just makes me sad," she said.

But the artist has many supporters as well, who say she should not let some haters bring her down.

"Keep going girl. Don't listen to those people, you deserve everything. You are doing a great job expressing yourself. Keep going at it, don't let people drag you down," said David, who supports the LGBTQ community.

Another supporter, Matthew, said, "With growth comes contraction. Maybe we're contracting right now. She should have hope that this work will take us even further down where we need to be."

The portraits have been up since May 1, and are meant to show Pride for the LGBTQ community.

The artist said she was at the event in the 1980s to take the photos. Despite the vandalism, she said she is proud of being able to display the portraits during Pride month.

"You know, I just remember that as a really fun time in my life and I wanted to share those images," the artist said.

The artist said she has reached out to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, who polices West Hollywood, but has yet to meet with them to file a report because she has been out of town.