Petition calls for ‘Golden Gaytime’ ice-cream to change its name

An online petition has been launched calling for iconic Australian ice-cream Golden Gaytime to change its name because it’s offensive to gay people.

The call for the change comes from an Australian man who identifies himself as Brian Mc online, and he argues that confectionary company Streets should follow in the footsteps of other brands including Coon cheese, and sweets Redskins and Chicos and ditch a name which has offensive connotations.

Brian Mc says the homophobia of the ice-cream’s name is akin to the racism displayed by those other brands, and it’s time for the longstanding brand to find another moniker. In New Zealand it’s known as a Cookie Crumble.

On his petition Brian asks “If a co-worker in your office walked in and said “they had a gay weekend”, would you assume the definition of gay as being light-hearted and carefree? Or would you feel offended?”

After pondering the question, I quickly came to my personal conclusion. No -I would not be even slightly offended. I’d assume my colleague had a fairly carefree weekend, or they’d spent Saturday and Sunday hanging out with some Bears, watching episodes of Drag Race and listening to classic disco tunes.

Next the petition asks, “If the same co-worker said ‘that’s so gay’, would you take this to be an offensive word for foolish, stupid, or unimpressive? Or would you feel offended?”

Offense might be too strong a word, I’d probably highlight to my co-worker that the use of the word ‘gay’ as a negative is somewhat of a slur to LGBTIQ+ people, and ask them to reconsider using it, but I’m not thinking negative thoughts at the sight of a crumb-coated ice-cream.

The petition says that using the word ‘gay’ might have been okay when it was first launched in 1959, but in 2021 the word describes homosexuality, not happiness or frivolity.

Wiping one use of the word from our language seems extreme, and pick up any dictionary and you’ll see a modern usage and a more traditional definition. In 1959 the word was certainly already carrying a double meaning, Cary Grant used it to describe sexuality in the 1930’s film Bringing Up Baby, and when they describe ‘Gay Paris’ it’s certainly referring to moral standards not cheerfulness. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers‘ The Gay Divorcee s still one of my all-time favourite films.

Speaking to Brain Mc on the phone, I’m upfront that I don’t feel offended by the ice-cream, or his scenario of a colleague’s weekend, but I’m eager to hear his thinking.

“I’ve always looked at the brand, you kind of gone, your historical brand, your a historical label, you’re an Australian icon.” Brian said.  “But when other brands are changing, because of race, or gender, or sensitivity to the community, then I’ve questioned and kind of gone ‘as a historical brand, should you not be updating as well?'”

I share with Brian that I can recall as a teenager in the 1980’s if I ordered a Golden Gaytime I’d run the risk of homophobic peers making a disparaging comment, but here we are nearly four decades later and the ice-cream survived that homophobia alongside me. It’s still called the Golden Gaytime, no marketing survey has ever suggested it should change because straight people saw a connotation with sexuality.

“Just because something survives doesn’t mean that it should continue in that same way. I’m not saying that the product should go away. I’m just saying that they should rebrand.” Brian said.

When I highlight that the brand has been a supporter of the LGBTIQ+ communities over the years, showing support for marriage equality with a rainbow edition, or showing allegiance with transgender people by a special edition in the colours of the trans flag, Brian is still adamant that the name has to go.

“I would never say that they are homophobic or that they’re anti gay, but I just think that they should adapt to a modern time, and a modern understanding of what that word would be.” Brian said, pointing out that the brand has recently launched cross promotions with other labels and is rapidly expanding from just being an ice-cream.

I asked why we can’t embrace the plurality of the word having multiple meanings, and for Brian this where the crux of the argument lies. He explains how one of meanings of the word gay is negative slang, and because of this the ice-cream also this word in it’s name, it can be used as a negative.

“The word gay does have multiple meanings, but one of those many deals will offensive. So it’s all just based on its context. If I use the example, that if I was to walk into a workplace and say that I had a gay weekend, that the majority of people would take that to be offensive And as a gay person myself, if someone walked into the office and said that they had a gay weekend, I would take that as an offensive word. So if it’s not acceptable in some context, and why would it be acceptable in other contexts?”

The final thing I asked Brian about is the possibility that his petition ends up being featured in right-wing media such as Caldron Pool or a segment of Sky News Outsiders. Doesn’t this suggestion to open the queer community up to be labeled a bunch of super-sensitive snowflakes.

“I fall back on to the fact that, you know, race and gender should be equal to the LGBTQIA community, and sexual identity should be treated the same.” Brian said in response.

While some petitions garner thousands of signatures within a few hours of being launched, Brian’s after a week had attracted just 21. He thinks it’s a slow-burn issue that will gain momentum.  Ahead of our chat it’s been highlighted in one British LGBTIQ+ website, and a few days after our conversation it was featured on Australian site  Pink Advocate.

On Twitter, Benedict Brook, former editor of the Star Observer shares his love of the ice-cream, and labels Brian’s petition “bonkers”.  Maeve Marsden who runs the popular podcast Queer Stories asks if Brian is a troll? Pointing out that he only has two followers on the social media platform. The thought that Brian might be an agent provocateur has crossed my mind. Is this just an elaborate hoax designed to show how woke queers will leap on the band wagon to ban anything?

I spend some time wondering if by sharing Brian’s petition I’ll end up with my George Negus meets Carlos moment.

In 1988 legendary Australian reporter Richard Carlton teamed up with magician James Randi and his sidekick Jose Alvarez and presented a tour of a ‘spirit channeller’ named Carlos. After Carlos enjoyed a week of interviews on Australian TV, and a sold out show at the Sydney Opera House, 60 Minutes revealed it was a hoax, designed to show how gullible the media can be. Carlos had a memorable interview on the Today show where he ended up throwing a glass of water over Negus.

While Brian’s Twitter account is fairly new, he has a decade long presence on other social media platforms, and we did speak on the phone, so as far as I can tell it’s his truly held belief. He’s not alone, his petition has over 40 signatures now, with other people saying they find the Golden Gaytime name offensive.

“As a lesbian I find the use gay offensive in a brand. I get this used to be called happy but times have moved on. I won’t buy gaytimes anymore.” says Emma.

“Change should have happened in the 90’s. Why does New Zealand have the same ice cream called Cookie Crumble yet we have golden gaytime. Keep the ice cream as I love it but rebrand to a modern name. Call it happy time.” says Ben.

“This is homophobic, change the name now!!!” demands Noah.

Chatting to Brian didn’t convince me that the ice-cream needs a name change. Maybe you feel differently.

Graeme Watson

OUTinPerth approached Unilever, the company behind the brand for comment.

Love OUTinPerth Campaign

Help support the publication of OUTinPerth by contributing to our
GoFundMe campaign.