Bloody Midsumma

Sergey Ivanov

Lifeline Australia :13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

This morning my Facebook news feed was swamped with people sharing the story of Tryone Unsworth, a Brisbane schoolboy of 13 who, according to his family, committed suicide because of relentless anti-gay bullying at school. The anger, shock, pain and hurt right across the community and our allies and friends were palpable.

Safe Schools is designed to prevent exactly this sort of thing, which is why it is vital it is rolled out to every school in Australia, public and private, yesterday. That’s not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen, thanks to a vicious propaganda campaign, brimming with lies and distortions, waged by people like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen, and fanned by vitriolic anti-gay writings in News Corp rags masquerading as newspapers, such as the Australian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Herald Sun. A special mention here for the worst offenders, Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine – though there are many others.

All these people have blood on their hands today, and every time another gay person takes their own life.

Hardly a day goes by without a News Corp story attacking the LGBTI community. A couple of days ago, it was Roz Ward and Safe Schools again. Today in the Australian, there’s another piece opposing marriage equality. It’s relentless, it’s vicious, and above all, it’s at the very best, distortion, at the very worst (and all too often) outright lies.

Until this ceases, more people are going to die. Mostly, but not all, young people with their lives before them. People driven to despair by lies spread and promoted by News Corp. And they provided the second shock, of the day.

Around mid-morning I learned that News Corp are a Gold Level Sponsor of the Midsumma Festival. It’s the biggest annual LGBTI festival in Victoria, rivalling Mardi Gras in scope – though with a lot less raunch and glitz. Midsumma also runs the annual Pride March in the city. Immediately angry posts and tweets rightfully attacking the Midsumma board began circulating.

Mardi Gras responded to the possibility of Malcolm Turnbull attending by letting him know, reluctantly, he wasn’t welcome. A feeble and grudging response it’s true, but heading in the right direction.

Midsumma have responded to criticism of their hot date with Rupert Murdoch by telling us that News Corp has been a sponsor for two years. They say:


Got to love that happy little exclamation mark! They forgot the smiley face!!

There is nothing to talk about.

Midsumma have made a very serious error accepting sponsorship from News Corp. If they keep News Corp it, whether it’s in cash or kind, they are complicit in the campaign against Safe Schools and marriage equality. Worse, they are complicit in generating fear, anxiety, depression and yes, even suicide, in the LGBTI community.

They need to make a profound apology to the community. They need to tear up this year’s cheque and throw it in Rupert Murdoch’s face. And then they need to find the money to return every cent they have ever had from News Corp. No other response is even thinkable.

I have had it up to here with ‘reaching across the aisle’, ‘turning the other cheek’, being nice to bigots and homophobes. There is no possible response to these people but implacable opposition.

Midsumma need to act, and fast. News Corp must have no presence at Pride. News Corp must have no presence at Carnival. All programs with News Corp name on them must be recalled and pulped. No venue must display their name, even if it means the Midsumma board running all over Melbourne with big thick black Textas for a week.

If that means no Midsumma this year, so be it. Better no festival than one fed by the blood of innocent victims.

STOP PRESS: Petition to Midsumma Board – Cut Ties With News Corp.

Lifeline Australia :13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)