Dear Shannon Power & Star Observer, Take A Seat

By admin

Dear Star Observer,

I write to you now as a citizen of two great cities. One lay south in Victoria, the other on our eastern coast, in New South Wales. We call these great cities Melbourne and Sydney, each with their own unique and fabulous qualities. I am one of the fortunate few to have lived in Sydney and Melbourne, and currently divide my time, both professionally and recreationally; in both cities.

I write to you now as a producer, promoter, friend, collaborator, business owner, lover, artist, director and designer within the queer community in both cities.

I write to you as a curator of safe and inclusive spaces, festivals and parties for LGBTIQA people in both cities, as a collaborator and friend to those who work hard to offer such things to both cities.

We Australians love a little rivalry, and whilst many of our largest media outlets regularly allow irritating, simpleton ‘journalists’ to sledge their uneducated, ill-informed opinions on which city is better (it happens nearly every year), many of us in both cities this week thought better of you.

This week, you allowed one such (and I re-quote) irritating simpleton ‘journalist’ to sledge their uneducated, ill-informed and hyper-generalised opinion of just how Sydney’s LGBTIQA’s night-time culture differed from Melbourne’s. The article in question, ‘Why I Prefer Sydney Over Melbourne‘ opens with a reference to the history of Sydney’s Dykes on Bikes, who ‘decided to get together to patrol Oxford Street and protect their brothers from the homophobic bashings’ in the 1970’s. This of course would be a wonderful story in the colourful history of such an organisation, had it been factually correct. A representative from the Australian Gay & Lesbian Archives pointed out via your Facebook page that it was in fact the Lesbian motorcycle club The Vixens, and their patrols were in the 1990’s. This you did not seem relevant enough to correct.

This was the first of many errors in what has now become the worst piece of LGBTIQA journalism that I, and many of my peers have ever seen.

This article directs its focus on a particular, notorious venue in Melbourne that still to this day maintains a VCAT (the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal) exemption to the Anti-Discrimination Act, which enables their staff to refuse entry based on a presumed sexuality or gender identity. The author, Shannon Power has been aware of the matter for some time and knows of the venue’s notorious treatment of women. Her most recent experience appears to have fuelled the words she so horribly buggers up (to be quite vulgar) in this article.

Now, as a person who spends the better part of their work day and weekends ensuring that people have a safe and inclusive space, I find the VCAT exemption and the venue’s requirement of a disclaimer abhorrent, and support Shannon Power’s view to that point. The issue here is her sweeping generalisation of Melbourne as a whole.

Did Shannon think to do a little more research into who might be actively promoting inclusive events for our community? It doesn’t appear so. Power’s argument would be better focussed on breaking down the power for such a thing to exist. Instead, she chose to target her own native city and state as a whole, taking it down with a scathing article that not only divides us, but is reductive to the concept of inclusivity itself.

Shannon, did you know that there is a wonderful monthly discotheque held at The Gasometre Hotel (just blocks from The Peel), named The Outpost that caters to all-ages, all-the-colours-of-the-rainbow disco? Were you aware of events such Hellfire Resurrection & Provocation, hosted by Mistress Mallice that offers an all-inclusive space for the fetish community across the gender/sexuality spectrum? Did you know of a great little venue on Smith Street (again, just a few moments away) called The 86 which offers Honcho Disko, Fellas in Frocks & Nancy to all and sundry, both monthly and weekly events? Have you been to DT’s in Richmond, who offer all-ages fun and frivolity nearly every night of the week? How about St Kilda’s GH? Poof Doof in South Yarra? Were you aware that Melbourne Music Week just held its inaugural queer event, hosted by Yummy & Heaps Gay just last week at The State Library? Did you know that if you show up to Yah Yah’s just next to Sircuit on a Thursday you’ll come across an unashamed weekly dance party called Thursgay that offers younger LGBTIQA adults a nice cheap option to party and be themselves? I’m fairly certain you don’t know anything about the events that I work myself to the bone on … Closet Party? Perhaps a little LGBTIQA music festival over three days on top of a mountain in Victoria called Gaytimes? No? All of these events, venues, parties, festivals and social enterprises work tirelessly to ensure we don’t fall back into the dark ages of the homophile movements before the Gay Liberation Front came into being.

There are countless examples I could offer. Melbourne, like Sydney is pioneering the charge to offer safe and inclusive spaces to everyone in the gender and sexuality spectrum. It’s not perfect, yet – but we’re working bloody hard.

Are you hiding under a rock Shannon Power?

I too share your view that these exemptions must be brought down, but you chose to join your ill-informed peers and become divisive in an environment and community that needs to stay together to be strong. You and your publication appear to have used what can only be described as click-bait to stir a rivalry that should not exist between us. One can only assume such bait, not unlike ‘I’m a Sexual Racist’ by another uneducated journalist in your ranks to draw readers to your site and report back to your advertisers on the success of their ‘spend’.

Star Observer, this article reeks of your desperation to stay relevant in a sea of ennui. Too-often do I hear of my peer’s frustration at your publication’s inability to list or even mention their fledgling, inclusive events. Organisations who barely see any fruits of their labour themselves must pay up big to be included in your editorials. A press release for an incredible LGBTIQA festival, a lineup, a performance, all-ages party or community event goes unnoticed yet you appear to publish the words of someone who doesn’t lift a finger to research what’s she’s actually writing about. One of my peers just today likened you to News Limited, which is indeed is quite an assessment of your attitude toward quality journalism. You would rather fill your coffers than be the face of your community. Having raised over $100,000 in a Pozible campaign to save your publication, one would think you would attempt to uphold your mission to provide in-depth and independent journalism, dedicated to Australia’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex community.

Shannon Power, I apologise for insulting your intelligence, but know this, I mean to do so until we see you and your publication do what they set out to do. To inform us. To do this, you must be informed yourselves. No longer will we tolerate this un-balanced, divisive content that you call journalism. Star Observer, I implore you to remove this reductive article and ensure your best practice moving forward.

Yours truly,

Mason Browne

At publication, Star Observer’s article was titled ‘Sydney’s gay community is superior to Melbourne’s. Don’t @ me’ and has since been amended to ‘Why I prefer Sydney over Melbourne’. The original post via Facebook and all of its comments has been removed, as have several from the article on the Star Observer website itself.

*The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Heaps Gay.

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