A portrait of a gay B.C. couple who created their own chosen family because their own families don't support them was vandalized in Vancouver.
Private-school teacher Roger Chin and app developer Jim VanDeventer, who live in Duncan but frequently visit Vancouver, had their portrait taken for the community-based Chosen Family Portraits art project initiated by the Vancouver Queer Film Festival in 2010. Through portraits and recorded oral histories, the project captured 28 stories of chosen families involving local LGBT people, and funding was provided by the City of Vancouver, the Arts Partners in Creative Development, and the Canadian government.
Chin told the Georgia Straight by phone that both he and his partner have religious families who are against homosexuality and thus they had to make their own family.
The stories were showcased at an exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver in 2011, and eight of the portraits (photographed by Sarah Race) later were made into plaques put up around the city to celebrate Vancouver's 125th anniversary.
Chin said he was informed by a friend on December 28 that the plaque of Chin and VanDeventer on Denman Street in front of Milestones restaurant had been covered in white paint. He said his friend informed him it had been like that for about a month.
The paint has since been removed from the plaque by the City of Vancouver, with only a few traces remaining.
According to VQFF executive director Drew Dennis, only one plaque so far has been damaged beyond repair. Dennis also stated that each plaque is designed to last for a decade or more and one replacement exists for each plaque.
Although his plaque has since been restored, Chin said that the incident highlights the ongoing struggle that LGBT people face in the city, such as the debate about transgender issues when the Vancouver School Board sought to update its gender identity policy to become more inclusive.
"This is an opportunity for people to step up and say, 'This is still going on, and we need to celebrate queer lives'," Chin said.
He added that he still regularly faces homophobia in his own life.
"It's just one more of a series of things that happened. I faced, last year, two incidents of bullying.…I guess maybe that's why I wasn't that shocked that this happened because I've been exposed to homophobia several times a year so it's sort of par for the course."
A number of gaybashings have transpired in the West End over the past few years. In addition, last year on February 21, an intoxicated man attacked Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert's office on Denman Street, punching a hole in a door and physically assaulting Chandra Herbert's assistant. He allegedly shouted homophobic slurs while ranting about rainbow flags flying at the community centre. In March, 53-year-old Michael Melvin Williams was charged with assault and mischief under $5,000. He was found guilty of assault by a provincial court judge on January 15.