Petitioner responds to news Golden Gaytime won’t be changing their name

Ice-cream company Streets say they’ve heard the calls asking for them to change the name of their Golden Gaytime ice-cream, but after consulting with fans of the iconic ice-cream and representatives from the LGBTIQA+ community – they’ll be keeping their name.

OUTinPerth spoke to Brian Mc, the Melbourne man who put forward the petition. Brian shared more about why he felt this issue was important, and his surprise that the story had been picked up by so many media outlets – many who didn’t even take the time to even contact him about his views.

Since launching his petition Brian says he experienced online bullying from both within the LGBTIQ+ communities, and from random strangers who tracked down his social media profiles.

In a statement Streets said they’d carefully considered the petition and listened to what people had to say about their product’s name.

“Over the past several weeks, the Gaytime team has been taking some time to listen and reflect. Why? Because we stand for inclusion, celebrate diversity and welcome meaningful conversations around these values. We believe that in order to really listen and understand, we must consider all voices.​

 

“We’ve had a unique opportunity to hear from thousands of people across the nation about their views on the Golden Gaytime name, and the response has been extraordinary. We’ve heard that there is an enormous amount of love and nostalgia associated with our Gaytime, but it has also provoked some very important conversations around diversity, inclusion and equity. ​

 

“The meaning behind the Gaytime name has not changed since its iconic debut in 1959 – it is, and always has been for everybody to enjoy, no matter who you are or who you love. However, we are very mindful that the world has changed since the first Gaytime was made, and culture and language has also evolved over time.

 

“We’ve been listening to our fans, consumers, engaging with our customers, and having lots of conversations internally. We also felt it was important to engage directly with the LGBTQIA+ community, so we met with ACON – one of Australia’s leading LGBTQIA+ community organisations – to get their perspective. ​

 

“Our Streets family has been in communities across Australia for a very long time. Our purpose is to make people happy and that is exactly what our beloved Gaytime name is all about – the happiness and joy that comes from eating ice cream.

 

“Following these conversations and reflection, and with the support of ACON and many other voices in the LGBTQIA+ community, we are proud to keep the Golden Gaytime name. There is a lot of history and pride behind Gaytime, and we have been inspiring a sense of community for many years. Going forward, we want to continue bringing communities together and creating a more diverse, inclusive and equal world for everybody. ​

Since OUTinPerth highlighted the petition in early March the story has been featured in the mainstream media, and inspired a hoax from trickster crew The Chaser, who suggested there was a push to rename fairy bread.

Have you been surprised by the response your petition attracted?

In one word yes, I thought this would be a topic in the LGBTQIA+ media but it wouldn’t go mainstream. I’m also saddend by the lack of engagement the media has had with me. I, as an individual believed I would be interviewed, contacted and I would be a part of the conversation, not that articles would be written about my petition, editing quotes and leaving out large sections of information. Overall, it’s been a difficult experience to lose control of a story that’s about your thoughts, and its caused quite a lot of distress in my life.

I knew the question of cancel culture would come up, but when I state in my petition “No, I’m not calling for the product to be cancelled, I’m calling for the product to remove Gay from its name.” and for this to be ignored is sad and misrepresents the goal of the petition. I have always said the goal was, that I believe my sexual identity is owned by me, not a brand and that the outdated meaning no longer applies, so Golden Gaytime needed to rebrand.

I have also been surprised by the high level of trolling, I have discussed this on Twitter, but as one example Nic Holas, Campaigns Director at change.org reached out to see if I needed support, and the company shut down comments on my petition. Many, many people signed the petition with the goal to abuse me in the comments and by signing the petition with vulgar user names, all that has now been removed by change.org

Overall, it’s an experience that has been distressing, but I stand by my view that Golden Gaytime needs to change its name, especially when its launching new products under the Gaytime branding in 2021

Unilever and Streets, the brand that makes the Golden Gaytime ice-cream, have announced that after consideration and consultation, they will be keeping the name, how do you feel about this?

This is a heartbreaking outcome, if you started a new product in 2021 and called it Golden Gaytime, I believe you would be shot down in flames! I have had to fight for my sexuality, just to be a gay man. Yet Streets/Unilever dismiss my voice, the voice of the public who have signed my petition, and the voice of 2% of the poll stating this is an outdated name.

My question now is, if 2% of a popular poll won’t change their mind to rebrand, what’s the magic number they need? I still find it sad that I needed to start a petition yet other brands like Redskins, as far as I’m aware, just rebranded without a need for public input.

Within the time of my petition, before it went viral, there was an offer of a phone call with Streets/Unilever, this was then retracted and Streets/Unilever have not spoken to myself or heard my voice directly. I know that ACON have been consulted.

There have been a lot of accusations about your petition, including suggestions that it is a hoax, and even that you’re not a real person. Can you categorically confirm that it is not a hoax?

I find this question frustrating, though I see why it has been asked again and again. I started my petition using Facebook, after receiving trolling to my Facebook inbox, I then started a Twitter account in March to prevent trolling. As a new account with few followers, I see why people are suspicious, but if you read my petition, hear my experiences in coming out and see what I have been through in the media, why would anyone fake this?

Sadly, others who created the fairy bread petition from the Chaser team did for attention, I feel my petition has been tainted by the team at the Chaser and for that it just makes me telling my truth so much harder. Even The Project questioned my existence after nine emails back-and-forth with the team to confirm I’m real.

When we spoke last month I suggested that a likely reaction to your petition was going to be people calling you a “snowflake”, that’s certainly happened, and much harsher name calling too. How have you managed this onslaught of negative, and often rude and disrespectful, feedback.

Thank you for asking this question, I feel that not many have asked if I’m going okay. I have had some friends supporting me in this time but I have needed to seek professional help to get me through this, I never thought that I would be trolled so extensively from inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community.

This truly has become a ‘David and Goliath’ battle. How can an individual have a voice when now three Australian senators Matthew Canavan, Alex Antic and Jacqui Lambie all have a voice? Yet in the discussions on my petition both Sunrise and The Today Show I am not invited on the show to put my side of the story to be correctly communicated.

I feel that a lot of bad media reporting only fueled the fire of trolling and I was the victim of this hate.

Since launching your petition, you shared more about yourself, including the bullying you experienced at school, your family not being welcoming of same-sex attraction, and your experiences with conversion therapy via a church. Why aren’t you directly advocating to stop bullying or end conversion therapy practices?

Wouldn’t more direct action have a greater positive outcome than a petition against an ice cream?

As you may be aware, I live in Melbourne where it’s now illegal to practice conversion therapy, I’m very happy that others will not be subjected to the treatment I have been through.

I chose to start my petition to rename the Golden Gaytime ice-cream as other brands have updated, I just wish Streets/Unilever updated now as I believe it’s time and the people who signed my petition believe it’s time so also to rebrand.

A poll run by news.com attracted over 55,000 votes with 98% of people saying the name was not offensive. When OUTinPerth published news of your petition there were over 400 comments, but none were supportive, and your petition appears to have dropped to just 518 signatories, when previously it had over 800.

Why do you think people are not supporting your position?

Though I see the headline with 98% of people saying the name was not offensive, I will focus on the 2% – approximately 1,100 people who stood with me in calling Golden Gaytime an outdated name and is offensive name for an ice-cream, my question is at what point will Streets/Unilever say that’s the magic number they need to make a change.

I have also, and will always say I find polls hard as this is, even in the LGBTQIA+ community a minority issue so it’s hard to gauge support in a public poll.

As discussed before, change.org removed trolling from my signatures and abusive user names, dropping my signatures, I would rather have real believers then trolls any day, and I thank my supporters.

You’ve highlighted that while Unilever and Streets promote embracing the LGBTIQ community in their advertising and social media, it doesn’t translate to direct support via sponsoring Pride organisations or any other programs aimed at the LGBTIQ community.

This is a situation that applies to many large multi-nationals, what would you like to see brands and companies doing to provide genuine support?

Thank you for the question, note I do not highlight that while Unilever and Streets promote embracing the LGBTQIA+ community. I feel personally what they have done is appropriation.

I feel, if a brand has ‘gay’ in its name or drapes its self in a rainbow flag (as one example) around a pride event, payment should be made to the pride event its cashing in on. This should go for all large multi-national companies. The LGBTQIA+ community shouldn’t believe a rainbow means support; it might just be a cash grab.

I wish we lived in an honest world, where every pride flag or trans flag (as an example) meant funding for the community, it doesn’t and all LGBTQIA+ community members need to call this out.

According to Streets/Unilever’s comments and only based on this, I believe the Golden Gaytime has given ZERO back financially to the LGBTQIA+ community, now that’s a bitter tasting ice cream.

Brian Mc provided OUTinPerth with an extensive list of Pride organisations, including Pride WA, he has contacted asking if they have ever received financial support or sponsorship from Unilever / Streets. None of them reported any support from the company.

Since OUTinPerth published our initial report in March many readers have questioned if Brian Mc is a real person, or if his petition is a hoax. OUTinPerth undertook extensive background checks to confirm Brian Mc is a genuine person.

Graeme Watson


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