To boycott or not - the debate over Midsumma News Corp sponsorship continues
The debate over Midsumma’s decision to continue their partnership with News Corp is not going away any time soon. Some are calling for a boycott, others are saying this will unnecessarily hurt the artists and community groups who are staging events.
LGBTIQ advocate, parent and MCV contributor, Jacqui Tomlins, like many is struggling to know what is the best course of action, so she shared her thoughts on social media, and we share them here.
I don’t generally engage in public Facebook discussion, but I am going to participate in this one, partly in response to Rodney [Chiang-Cruise’s] posts, but mostly because Rainbow Families are close to my heart and this is important to me. To be honest, I am struggling to work out what is the best way to respond to the News Corp issue and, from the conversations I’ve had this week, I think other people are too.
It is undeniable that many of the articles published in News Corp’s The Australian about Safe Schools and related issues were vicious, inaccurate and deliberately misleading – and they were very effective. They made it infinitely more difficult for schools and parents to promote or protect the program and undoubtedly had a negative effect on many LGBTIQ young people.
In response to community concern about News Corp being a ‘Gold Sponsor’, the Midsumma Board issued a statement saying that it had decided to continue News Corp’s sponsorship after a process of community consultation. Some details were provided about that consultation process. As a result of Midsumma’s decision, there were calls from people like Rodney and others to boycott Midsumma events. All of that has left me – and others – wondering: What do I do?
I’ve been marching at Midsumma for 20+ years and most of those with Sarah and one, two or three children. We love it; it’s a complete buzz and very affirming, especially for the kids. Rainbow Families are always a visible and vocal presence and I think that’s really important, both for our community and the people watching.
A respected advocate I spoke to this week said she would march because she didn’t want News Corp taking away her event, our event, and that she would make her opposition to News Corp known in some way on the day. I thought she had a good point, especially where kids are involved.
And then I started thinking about the recent plebiscite campaign. Rainbow Families took a strong stand on the plebiscite; an unequivocal position that it was wrong and we would not support it under any circumstances; a position that was not supported by all members of our community.
And I thought about News Corp’s focus on Safe Schools and the damage that’s already been done to the program. Safe Schools is designed to protect LGBTIQ kids but it’s critical for our families too. Rodney checked whether his son’s new school was a member; when we moved Corin, we checked too. I suspect it’s difficult for groups like Minus 18 to engage in any debate that’s seen as ‘political’, which means it’s really important that we do.
While I can come at the Midsumma Board not stepping back from its sponsorship agreement at this late stage, I feel very strongly that there should be no future sponsorship agreement with News Corp. The advocate I mentioned also reminded me that we have been under attack so much lately that we have got used to compromising, to accepting less, to being grateful for the crumbs we’re offered – and that we should stop doing that.
So, Rainbow Families could take a stand. We could draw a line in the sand and say ‘No. This is wrong. We will not support it.’ We could withdraw from the parade. We could clearly articulate our reasons why in a written statement and make that known to the broader community. It will send a message to the Midsumma Board that this issue isn’t going away and that, irrespective of their community consultation, this is one section of the community that does not support any form of sponsorship with News Corp. It may also encourage other groups to follow suit.
Then we could have a picnic in a park instead.
What do you think?
(Top image - Pride March. Photo Craig Francis)