Star Observer – Minus18 Won’t Stay Quiet On Increasing Anti-LGBT Attacks On Queer Formals


This article was originally published by the Star Observer. You can find the original article here.

LGBTQI+ youth organisation Minus18 recently shared with followers on social media that anti-LGBT hate groups have been attacking their queer youth formals – and they’ve opened up to Star Observer about why they’re done staying quiet.

The beloved Aussie LGBTQI+ organisation recently shared an image that shows just some of the horrific and distressing comments they receive, directed toward the org, the queer youth formals, and the young people who attend them.

“We’ve been made aware of anti-LGBTQIA+ groups that have rallied their followers to attack our biggest queer youth event of the year, Queer Formal Melbourne. We don’t need to tell you, it’s messed up.

“Why bring this particular instance to your attention? Because it’s just one of the increasing number of threats we’re receiving as a charity that supports queer young people today.”

Minus18 spokesperson Reb Mery spoke to Star Observer about the targeted attacks, the most recent one being the Queer Formal event in Melbourne.

Mery says Minus18 is on the receiving end of harmful comments and attacks from anti-LGBTQI+ hate groups regularly, and the organisation tends to stay quiet because their top priority is protecting and shielding young queer people from hate.

But they feel that in this instance, the public needs to truly understand the enormous amount of hate that youth LGBTQI+ events like the Queer Formals – and similar events around the country – receive on a daily basis.

And these harmful comments and targeted attacks are only increasing.

“We receive comments and threats like this regularly – just for creating spaces for young people to feel safe and proud of their identity,” says Mery.

“They speak about young people “flaunting” their sexuality, that Queer Formal is “feral” – while attempting to frame their comments as protecting young people.

“We don’t speak publicly about the threats or comments Minus18 receives, because we want to shield queer young people. It’s important for us to speak about this instance though, because it highlights how far we still have to go – despite how far we’ve come – to combat the attitudes that cause attacks like these, and to make society safer for young people.

“… This time enough is enough.

“The Minus18 Queer Formals [are] the most amazing, life-affirming night of queer pride, new friends, and joyous celebration – we won’t stand by as these groups try to eliminate spaces for young people that need them.”

Hate groups are buying up formal tickets

Minus18’s next Queer Formal is in Melbourne on July 6.

All 700 of the tickets have sold out – but the organisation says that these anti-LGBT hate groups have actually been purchasing a large number of tickets to the Melbourne event in order to stop young people from attending.

In a statement, the org wrote, “We’re aware of anti-LGBTQIA+ groups that have rallied their followers to attack Queer Formal Melbourne. They’ve told their members to register for all the free tickets so that queer young people can’t attend.”

But Minus 18 say that the harder these hate groups try to stop them supporting LGBTQI+ youth with these kinds of events, the harder the organisation will fight.

“We actually plan for these sorts of attacks as part of our internal processes. After our review, we’re confident we’ve ensured all tickets are actually going to young people who need them.”

“That adults would be trying to keep young people from attending a life-changing, life-saving event just drives us to work harder to create an Australia in which all young people feel safe and supported,” says Mery.

The impact and legacy of the Minus18 Queer Formals

The LGBTQI+ organisation has been holding formals for LGBTQI+ youth all around Australia since 2010.

Minus 18 says these events are a space for LGBTQI+ young people to be unabashedly, unashamedly themselves. They can bring the date they want, express themselves in the way they want, and to celebrate their identity in a space that’s truly welcoming.

“School formals are a rite of passage, but many LGBTQIA+ young people don’t feel supported or safe to attend theirs. This attack highlights the attitudes that still exist in Australia that cause this,” explains Mery.

“Queer Formal is often the first time young people have ever been around other queer people, have made friends with other people like them, or have felt safe enough to be open about their sexuality or gender identity.

What can we do support Minus18?

Mery tells Star Observer the response to sharing the post about the anti-LGBTQI+ attacks has been “absolutely incredible, and so heartwarming”.

“Folks have shared our post far and wide, have let our host venue (NGV) know how much they love Queer Formal and Minus18, and have shared so many of their own experiences at Queer Formals gone by.

“It’s truly highlighted how valuable Queer Formal is, and the real, tangible impact that attending such a celebratory queer space can have on a young person. It’s life-changing, and in many cases life-saving.” 

Mery says that Minus18 will continue to fight as hard as they need to in order to support Australia’s queer youth.

When asked what the LGBTQI+ community and our allies can do to help, Mery says that every donated cent counts.

“Minus18’s work is only possible because of community support. Every donation, no matter how small, helps us deliver youth events around the country, run our queer youth leadership program, create free digital resources, deliver education to workplaces and schools, and run awareness campaigns.

“In fact, we’re actually dedicating every single donation received during June to creating and delivering free LGBTQIA+ education to schools around the country – to students, and to adult staff.”

To donate you can visit Minus 18’s website, and you can also check out the genuine queer joy and positive impact the Queer Formals bring to young LGBTQI+ people here:

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This article was originally published by the Star Observer. You can find the original article here.

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