MIDSUMMA HAS GONE TOO FAR
An open letter to the Rainbow Families Council
from Rodney Chiang-Cruise
Our family is a Rainbow Family. We have created our family over the last 10+ years via surrogacy and then coparenting. We are happy. We are thriving. We are privileged. We are indeed, exceptionally lucky. We also know that many others are not so lucky. Other Rainbow Families struggle. Kids of same-sex attracted parents struggle with hate, bullying and depression. Same-sex attracted/Queer/Gender Diverse/LGBTI kids all over the country struggle daily. They often struggle alone. They face constant threats to their self-worth and to their physical safety. Tyrone Unsworth was one of the latest victims of that.
Our family will not stay silent any more. It has gone too far.
Midsumma is a annual festival that runs in Melbourne and it sells itself as “Victoria’s premier queer arts and cultural Festival, for and by LGBTQIA+ communities”.
We no longer feel welcome or part of Midsumma because we do not think that they really understand what “LGBTQIA+ Communities” mean.
The sponsorship deal with News Corp is not only troubling. It is wrong. News Corp is an organisation that has used its media power to systematically, continuously, relentlessly target “LGBTQIA+ Communities”. In the last 12 months for example they have gone after Safe Schools with such ferocity that none of us reading this could be in any doubt that there has been an ideological agenda aimed solely at destroying safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ kids and the kids of Rainbow Families. The attacks on trans kids have been particularly disgusting and harmful.
Midsumma’s decision to accept and then retain sponsorship with an organisation that has made an attack on our families almost a daily occurrence is unbelievable. It is also unacceptable.
Clearly, the issue is about money and power. Money (and in kind support) for a festival that is only slightly more than a party, parade and performances. And power. I suggest it is about a privileged few in the community (not surprisingly, mostly white, inner city, middle aged, single gay, cis males – not exclusively, but mostly) putting the issue of a relationship with News Corp above a relationship with the communities.
It is unacceptable to our family.
It is not acceptable to put a relationship with News Ltd above the most vulnerable in our community.
Recently, we decided to take our son out of his state primary school. He will be going somewhere else in 2017. Why? There were many reasons but one was the issue of safe schools. We have tried for sometime to get safe schools introduced into our school. We had several incidents of bullying around the sexuality of his dads directed at our son. It was distressing for him. Distressing for us as parents. We were also aware of other incidents of bullying and harassment of other children at the school based on gender identity and sexuality. Those parents were equally anxious about getting safe schools in. They are good people who want to protect their children. To allow them to thrive in a safe space. They want and need Safe Schools
The constant, unrelenting, misleading media around Safe Schools published weekly by News Ltd contributed to an attitude from school authorities at our school to “push back”. As you know, I am a strong person…I will advocate very strongly for a point. I didn’t make any headway. Safe Schools is scary for them. They are scared of backlash.
In the end, for that and other reasons – we took an opportunity that arose and took our son out of the school. We are happy to say next year he is attending a school that has signed on to Safe Schools. We are attending a school that in a very short period of time has welcomed our family and the diversity that it represents.
We are privileged. Incredibly privileged to have the opportunity and to be able to take it. Other families at the school are not so. We feel torn about leaving them alone to deal with a recalcitrant school administration. But we had to make a choice.
So when we saw that News Corp was going to be a gold sponsor of Midsumma – I was furious. What was Midsumma thinking. Clearly, it wasn’t about the damage that News Ltd has been doing to our children, queer kids, our families. No – it was clearly about money for a party, parade and performances. Midsumma has it’s priorities wrong.
We can not support Midsumma in any way now. What message are we sending to our son? The son we have tried to teach about standing up for your fellow students. The son we are trying to teach that bullying, harassing, teasing kids based on their parents, their skin colour, their beliefs, their gender identity, their sexuality is wrong. It is unacceptable. The son we are teaching to be a defender of these things.
What the fuck are we teaching our son these things for – if we ignore a community organisation siding and partnering with News Corp – a company that consistently does those very same hateful things.
We are not always pure in our beliefs or actions. We get it wrong. Probably more times than we care to admit. We let our own privilege blind us at other times.
But when we are aware, when we can do something – we should.
This is one of those times.
I ask Rainbow Families Council to withdraw from Midsumma in protest. Do not march, do not participate in Midsumma activities. Do not validate News Ltd and their attacks on our families. Rainbow Families can celebrate separately, and unitedly away from toxic linkages of Midsumma.
Our families are strongest when we support each other. When you make your decision, please think of all the Tyrone Unsworth still out there. Are they worth the price of a parade?
For our family – we say “no more”. No more supporting groups that align themselves with organisations that harm our families, our kids.
Midsumma has partially withdrawn from the arrangement with News Corp: Rainbow Families react here.