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Hate posters target Port Alberni art gallery during Pride Week

Arts administrator said fear quickly turned to anger as gallery prepared to host youth events
Angela Skaley, tne new arts administrator for the Grove Art Gallery at Harbour Quay in Port Alberni, says hateful posters glued to the gallery door and community bulletin board won’t stop the gallery from supporting queer and trans artists in the city. (SUSIE QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

When Angela Skaley arrived at work at the Grove Art Gallery last Monday morning, she found a nasty surprise glued to the front door and the glass over the gallery’s community bulletin board. Someone had affixed handmade posters targeting the Pride flag, on the first day of Pride Week in the Alberni Valley.

It was disheartening, said Skaley, who is new in her role as arts administrator for the Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley. “The instant feeling was a feeling of fear that we were targeted,” she said.

The Grove hosted two youth-oriented Pride events as part of Pride Week, two of several events planned throughout the week.

“Seeing hateful material directed at us was scary. That was quickly surpassed with anger because I am protective of our community and I feel very strongly about protecting vulnerable people,” Skaley added. “I feel people in our Pride community, especially youth, to be a vulnerable community.”

Skaley said after taking photos she tore the posters off the windows then called police.

The gallery went ahead with their events. “Hate speech will not stop us,” she said. “Fearmongering is not going to affect us. We are stronger together as a community and this will not stop us.

“We have queer and trans members of the arts council and the arts community and we want to protect them,” she said. “We want to protect queer art.”

She said people in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community “are human beings,” and that if the people who put up the posters have questions they should just ask.

Alberni Valley Pride president Carrie Thorpe said she was sad to hear about the vandalism targeting the Grove Art Gallery because the Grove has been a huge supporter of Pride activities.

“It has been a difficult year for our 2SLGBTQIA+ community, with witnessing anti-SOGI 123 protests in September, reading hurtful comments online and now hearing about the hate that was displayed at the Grove Gallery during Pride Week,” Thorpe said.

“During these difficult times we remind ourselves of the amazing community allies that support us,” especially the City of Port Alberni, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and those who have taken the Alberni Valley Pride Ally training, she said.

Thorpe said she hadn’t heard of any other venues targeted for hosting Pride activities, but some people “voiced concern” about drag queen activities, “even showing up at a city facility during a registered event.”

She invited anyone with questions to email “Education is very powerful and if anyone wants to learn more about what we do, how we support the community to be inclusive of all and how to accept 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals for who they are, please reach out to us.”

RELATED: Alberni Valley set to celebrate Pride week from May 27–June 1

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I have been the Alberni Valley News editor since August 2006.
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