The trauma that began with the disruption of Rainbow Families Qld’s Brisbane drag storytime last Sunday continues. Following the death of protest leader Wilson Gavin, efforts to tweak the narrative to fit personal and political agendas flooded both mainstream and social media. The inaccuracies of keyboard fiction, when repeated often enough, become accepted wisdom.
What actually went down — “perverting children’s minds” — the blame game — the conspiracy theory (murder) — where to?
How some describe the Brisbane drag storytime protest
The Canberra Declaration: a “peaceful, non-violent protest.”
Lyle Shelton: “Wilson Gavin & his friends did not “storm”, “vilify” or “shout”, as the fake news media reported.”
The Caudron Pool: “a group of young, non-threatening conservatives.”
Tim O’Hare: “Just a couple of conservative students protesting the use of a public amenity to host a contentious event.”
What actually went down
Video footage shows not a couple, but at least 15 protestors. Peaceful, non-violent protestors do not storm into a library amongst young children, chanting loudly and aggressively. Even Tim O’Hare admitted Wilson Gavin’s finger waving in Diamond’s face “appears aggressive and does not sit well with me.”
Both Shelton and O’Hare defend the protest on the basis of a statement from the organisers claiming they “stayed outside the room.”
However, eyewitnesses told QNews that the protestors entered the room and surrounded the craft tables where the children were undertaking activities, chanting angrily. Parents quickly ushered them outside. They continued their protest there, as seen in video footage of the event.
No one has since disputed that. Either CCTV footage or further witness statements will provide a definitive answer eventually.
“Perverting children’s minds”
Numerous anti-LGBTIQ commenters denigrate drag storytime as ‘sexually suggestive’. However, Rainbow Families Qld train their Blue Card registered entertainers to ensure child-appropriate presentations. The children’s parents are also present, as are library staff.
Opponents of the Brisbane drag storytime event complain that Diamond Good-Rim’s surname references a sexual act. However, Diamond appropriately goes by their first name only for these events. That Diamond performs a more risqué act in pubs and nightclubs should no more disqualify them from performing for children than it does anyone else. Does anyone refuse to let their children see Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music because Julie Andrews went topless in S.O.B. or because she played a cross-dresser in Victor/Victoria?
The Blame Game
On social media and in the media, commenters blame the LGBTIQ communities, religious communities, the LNP, social media, and the media for Wilson Gavin’s death.
Every one of those accusations is equally reprehensible. None of us, with the possible exception of his loved ones, know what led to that terrible conclusion.
Despite George Christensen’s assertions, the media simply reported the facts of the protest. Mounting a loud aggressive protest in a library at an event for young children is a pretty shocking thing to do. The media would be remiss not to report on it.
Outrageous acts prompt outrage. Wilson Gavin’s actions outraged LGBTIQ people and their allies. They said so on social media. Some said unforgivable things. But, LGBTIQ people are just people and some people do say unforgivable things. Young Extinction Rebellion protestors suffer continual vicious media and social media vilification and there have been no reports of deaths.
Wilson Gavin had LGBTIQ, LNP and religious friends at the time of his death. Comments from friends and relatives make it obvious that they loved him while recognising his problems. They all obviously would have been there for him had he reached out.
The conspiracy theory
The Canberra Declaration says, “The Canberra Declaration’s own Jean Seah was a friend of Gavin’s. She explains that Gavin was familiar with this kind of overblown response to his political convictions… Seah is puzzled about the circumstances surrounding Gavin’s death…
“We received an unconfirmed report that Gavin’s body was found on the train station platform, and not on the tracks. For an apparent suicide, this seems unusual and should at least raise questions—particularly given the harassment and lethal threats he encountered online in the hours leading up to his death.”
Following the posting of that article on Lyle Shelton’s Facebook page, commenters dove in to speculate that ‘the left’ killed Wilson Gavin.
“Murder could be an option too. And if so, that’s extremely low of us on the left.”
“The Left are known for their vicious attacks and outright violence (Antifa and others). I have no personal knowledge of this poor young man, but it’s not inconceivable that he was murdered.”
“We don’t yet know the circumstances of his death. It will eventually be released.”
“It hasn’t been proven he committed suicide. Strong possibility he didn’t.”
“From what I’ve read, I don’t believe he committed suicide!”
Where to now?
Anti-LGBTIQ activists remain determined to undermine marriage equality and the right of people to live as their authentic selves.
They fear and resent the increased acceptance and visibility of LGBTIQ people. When they see high profile LGBTIQ people in the media, in sport, heading corporations or working as entertainers, they suspect an increase in the numbers of LGBTIQ people.
But increased acceptance leads not to increased numbers, but enhanced visibility.
Another comment from Shelton’s Facebook page.
“Wanting to have rainbow flags and the like all over the place, is exhibitionism.”
So, they will fight with all their might.
This is the importance of the Religious Freedoms Bill. Our opponents don’t want to simply stop further reform. They want to wind back existing reform.
When Lyle Shelton lost the marriage equality vote, he said as much.
“In a democracy no question is ever completely closed”.
He stated an intent to “win this back over time.”
“That could take years or decades.”
Brisbane Drag Storytime is very much endangered
As we reported yesterday, the Queensland director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Wendy Francis launched a petition asking Brisbane City Council to ban drag storytime from its libraries.
Another petition before council demands that the council permanently ban all LGBTIQ+ programs and activities and remove all LGBTIQ+ literature.
It doesn’t mention if they’d like a public book burning.
However, the damage may already be done.
Whether councils are inclined to allow the continued use of their facilities by all the community rather than just the ‘chosen few’, may be immaterial.
No one ever expected a library to become the scene of an aggressive protest, especially one designed to distress children. Councils will ponder how to protect their facility, staff, and patrons from potential future protests and may just decide not to take the risk.
Thus we will see the LGBTIQ communities bullied from public space — denied the use of public facilities they too pay rates and taxes toward.
The entitlement of religious extremists means they don’t only want the right to discriminate against LGBTIQ communities.
Their bullying to deny LGBTIQ people the same rights as anyone else in the community shows what they really want.
A return to the good old days (for them) of the right to persecute.
If you live within the boundaries of the Brisbane City Council, you can sign the petition to the council asking them to allow continued Drag storytimes in city libraries.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.