Cast your mind back ten years ago to Brisbane, June 2011. A furore to end all furores was taking place.
Two men had been featured hugging in a safe sex campaign titled RipnRoll on bus stops across the city.
Even more outrageous, they were fully clothed and one of them was wearing a cross!
RipnRoll 2011 begins
These were the basis of the complaints about the posters that were part of the ongoing ‘Ripnroll‘ safe sex awareness campaign by the then ‘Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.‘
The ad featured two fully clothed gay men hugging each other, one was holding an unopened condom. The other wearing the christian cross around his neck.
After a successful run in 2010 the campaign had launched again. Now the couple at the centre of the campaign were featured on thirty five bus shelters across the city and fifteen billboards statewide.
With only days left of the campaign the Australian Christian Lobby got wind of the images. In a flurry of copy and pasted complaints the organisation went quickly on the attack to Adshel, the company behind the bus shelters.
Despite less than fifty complaints received Adshel made the decision to remove the ripnroll posters.
What followed was queer chaos at it’s finest.
Homophobia, not here.
Within hours of the posters removal a Facebook event was created, “Homophobia not here’ was the tagline.
Brisbane and Australia were clearly having none of it. Within twenty four hours the event had amassed hundreds of thousands of followers.
Social media was awash with the image as TV and radio stations carried the story around the country and the world. The complaints had claimed the complete opposite effect, the image was now being seen internationally.
Everyone was getting on board from Koshi to Kylie Minogue, who tweeted her support. Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk even said he ‘believed the advertisements carried an important health message.‘
The ACL vs RipnRoll
Wendy Francis was at the time the head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). Revelling in her infamy ‘I’m trending on twitter!‘ She shrieked during one of her crazier interviews on Sunrise.
Wendy and the ACL continued to attempt to defend themselves as the wave of public opinion swayed against them.
Time and time again the lines of ‘corrupting children‘ were screeched into the abyss. Wendy and her followers were adamant the ripnroll image and its message was stretching at the moral fabric of our society.
Across the country the ACL were being lambasted from Hack, to Sunrise and every outlet in between the ACL had little support.
The RipnRoll protest
Within twenty four hours a protest had assembled. Outside the Adshel headquarters over 100 supporters gathered on the streets.
Brandishing enlarged copies of the Ripnroll poster they chanted and cheered together. Some even opting to recreate the image.
There was no ignoring the undeniable swell of support for the campaign. By that afternoon the company had reversed their decision.
Not only reversing the decision but as a sign of good faith, the campaign was extended another two weeks. Defiantly returned, the images the ACL were so desperately trying to get rid of were now everywhere for longer. The Ripnroll campaign had been extended.
Life went on, as they say. Howwever the legacy of a time where Brisbane’s LGBTIQ+ community came together to support each other will not be forgotten.
As for the two men in the image, where are they now? They married in 2019, became parents in 2011 and one of them has written this article today.
Take a look at this Flashback to Wendy Francis defending the ACL on Sunrise below:
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.